Pre-Season 2024, More Questions Than Answers AND A New Direction for The Blog

With the new season just around the corner SomersetNorth is back, but it’s a different approach focussed more on proposer Somerset supporters. But there are a couple of things I’d like to get off my chest first

I’ve been a Somerset supporter since 1970, a devotion that through all that time has been borderline obsessive. But I hit a bit of a personal wall in 2023. I admit it wasn’t all Somerset CCC’s fault but they were a major contributory factor. I found myself, in late March 2023 having no excitement for the cricket season and through the whole of the summer dipped in and out rather than dived in head first as usual.

But 2024 has, thankfully, seen a return to the old mindset. It has been a gradual return and has to be honest crept up on me in the last month, helped along by the recording of the off-season Always Look on the Bright Cider Life last month.

SomersetNorth is going to be different though. I’m not committing to writing every day, previews, match reports and other features will appear when I want them to. AND most importantly this blog is going to be promoted far less on social media, if you have supported the blog in the past and are back, thank you. If you like what you read and want to share with other true Somerset supporters please do but I am not going to be focussing on page views, retweets and mentions. SN is going back to what it was when it started – replacing the conversations Dad and I used to have almost daily about Somerset cricket. That sadly ended after the 2014 season. SomersetNorth started in 2016 and after being fostered elsewhere for a short while, became a thing with a life of its own in its current form in 2019.

I’ve invested a lot of time in building the site and to be honest it became a bit of an obsession in getting the look, feel, depth and breadth right. but, and I am sorry to say this I began to realise in 2022 that I was pushing a big stone up a steep hill in trying to achieve what I wanted for the site.

I won’t go into details but lets just say that there wasn’t much support for this supporters efforts to support his club. The tangible evidence of this was that I wasn’t able to do one of the things I most wanted the blog to do, showcase my own photos. Not only was I unable to get squad photos when the club reduced access to press day but I was unable to take the long lenses and other kit needed to get the shots I wanted into the majority of grounds.

Now that may sound self-serving and petty but believe me when you have banged your head against a brick wall for so long you decide it is hurting too much and stop. Perhaps the new Chief Executive may have a different approach, we’ll find out. After 18 months of not doing it I owe it to myself to give it one more go.

(Spoiler alert – the next post is going to be an open letter to Jamie Cox later this week)

But, having got all that off my chest, let’s make up for lost time. A lot has changed since September 2022. We have a new captain with Lewis Gregory taking over from Tom Abel. For me a case of one of my all time favourite Somerset cricketers replacing another.

We have another trophy in the cabinet after a record-breaking T20 campaign.

We have a new chief executive, another England spinner and in Jake Ball a like for like replacement for Jack Brooks (we hope).

And some things have stayed the same.

We have another season of Jason Kerr’s impenetrable coach speak as he ploughs through another season trying to tell us absolutely nothing of any value to a single Somerset supporter.

Jack Leach continues to suffer the bad luck that seems to dog him every year.

Another year of the club refusing to acknowledge it’s a DRAGON,

AND that gap for that much coveted Championship Trophy in the Trescothick Pavillion remains empty.

For now let’s concentrate on the red ball stuff. I am not going to make any predictions this year instead I’ve pulled together a list of things that need to happen to put us in contention for the Championship.

– Lewis Gregory has to stay fit through the season

– Craig Overton has to recover successfully from his back surgery and have a career season.

– Jake Ball and Josh Davey have to have seasons much better that they have in the last few years both in terms of injuries and wicket hauls.

– Somerset’s opening partnerships have to be considerably better on a consistent basis.

– James Rew has to repeat or better his phenomenal 2023 season.

– Tom Abell, free of the strain the captaincy was clearly placing on him, has to deliver the volume of runs his talent merits.

– Somerset’s leadership have to manage the new twin spinner situation better than they did Jack & Dom and Craig and Jos.

That’s a long list and even the most optimistic Somerset supporter would be hard pressed to say yes to the proposition.

The bookies have us finishing clear of the relegation zone but not by much. And despite the upbeat words of Thursday’s press day, that seems to me about right.

But one thing the 54 seasons I’ve lived through since my Dad first took me to the County Ground has taught me is that Somerset cricket glories in its perversity.

So expect us to go into early September with a 70 point lead, Lewis and Craig battling for the season’s leading wicket taker and TA and JR having cruised past 1,000 runs.