2018 was a successful season for Somerset County Cricket Club.
The team finished second in the Specsavers County Championship and qualified for Vitality Blast Finals Day.
Club Captain, Tom Abell was one of the key factors behind that success, and we spoke to him to get his views on how the campaign panned out.
“The 2018 season seems to have just flown by,” he said. “Having had a few days now to reflect on it we can feel very happy and proud of how we have done this year.
“As a team we’ve come a long way and I feel that we’ve laid a foundation that we can now build upon.
“We have got a fantastic squad of players and an unbelievable coaching staff. There are good people in all of the right places, which can hopefully bring us success.
“Obviously we just missed out this year and didn’t quite achieve what we set out to try and do, but having said that we came second in the Championship to a very strong Surrey side who were deserved winners this year. We were also right up there in the Vitality Blast, but we didn’t quite achieve our potential in the Royal London One-Day Cup.”
What does Tom think is behind this year’s improvement?
“One of the big things that has come out of this year is that our success has been a collective effort” he said. “We spoke a number of times both before and throughout the season about the team effort and how important that has been. Within that there have been some fantastic individual performances.
“It goes without saying that James Hildreth was outstanding once again. He does it year in, year out for us. Lewis Gregory also had a fantastic year and showed just how good he can be and what he is capable of. Josh Davey had a great year with the ball too.
“However, it’s hard to single out too many because everybody had such a fantastic season. Each player stuck their hand up at different times in the season and I think that’s what enabled us to win so many games.”
What Championship victory gave Tom the most pleasure during the season?
“We had a number of phenomenal wins in the Championship, but getting off to the start we did by beating Worcestershire and then Yorkshire in our first two games was great.
“To start like that was a massive thing for the team and to put in two really good performances on surfaces that were relatively conducive to the seamers was exactly what we had hoped for.
“However, the win against Yorkshire at Headingley was also very special because of the way that we played. We were made to work very hard for the victory.
“Finishing the season the way that we did at Nottinghamshire was a very special thing as well. To have two hat tricks in the game was something that doesn’t happen very often!”
Regarding his own performances throughout the season Tom said: “I was happy to be able to contribute, and I had a far better season than I’ve had for the last couple of years.
“This meant I was able to be the captain and the leader that I wanted to be because I was scoring runs and that helped me in my position. Last year I found it very difficult trying to lead from the front when I didn’t warrant my own place in the team.
“The way we’ve been playing and the way that we’ve been going about our cricket enabled me to go and play with confidence and I know that everybody in the squad backs me 100%.”
One of the highlights of Tom’s season was his hat trick at Trent Bridge in the final game of the season against Nottinghamshire. Looking back at that mment he said: “Bowling is a relatively new thing for me and finding my role in the team with the ball has been quite important to me. Our bowling unit are fantastic and I can’t talk highly enough about them as a group, but equally at times it’s good to have that extra option and give our bowlers a bit of a break.
“To pick up the odd wicket here or there has been great and it’s something that I will be looking to continue. I’m not quite there in terms of my consistency, but hopefully that will come the more that I do it.
“The hat trick at Trent Bridge was surreal and happened in a flash. I certainly wouldn’t have anticipated that happening at the start of the season, but the ball was swinging, the right handers were on strike and luckily three in a row went to hand.
“Craig Overton then got one in the second innings – all caught by Tres, which was quite phenomenal and was what we really needed at the start of the day to get us going.”
How does taking a hat trick rate with scoring a century?
“For me there is no feeling like scoring a century. Obviously as captain winning is the greatest feeling you can get, but from a personal point of view scoring a hundred is the best because that’s my job.
“Scoring a century takes a huge effort. A lot of work goes into it and the feeling it brings is very special. I experienced that at Headingley, and having not had one for a while I wont forget that for a long time.”
What lies ahead in 2019?
“There’s an air of excitement about the Club at the moment and rightly so,” said Tom. “The most pleasing thing about this season is the way that we’ve gone about our cricket and it’s been fantastic playing so well, dominating good teams on good surfaces, which we haven’t done as consistently in the past.
“That gives me a huge amount of optimism moving forward, but next year we have to start all over again. What we achieved took a massive amount of effort, and this year at times we went out into the middle and put into practice some of the things we had talked about and worked on during the winter. However, we still had periods in some games when we let ourselves down and you cant afford to do that.
“The teams that win the Championship are right up there all the way throughout the season, so we can’t afford those lapses in concentration during games.”
“It’s exciting but we’re not getting carried away. There’s still a lot of work to be done and we still have plenty of areas to improve upon and that is where our focus will lie.”
Regarding this coming winter Tom said: “I’m going to have a little bit of time off at the start of the winter to physically and mentally freshen up. I think that’s important because the season takes a lot out of you. It’s all encompassing and very intense.
“I’m then hoping to head back out to Perth and play for Freemantle CC again later in the season in perhaps November or December.”
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