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In Safe Hands: Steve Snell

Over the course of the next few months, we will be speaking to some of the players who have kept wicket for the Club.

The series is entitled “In Safe Hands” and during the interviews we will be looking at what unique qualities you require to be a wicketkeeper and discussing the pressures that go with this vital position.

This edition focuses on the current SCCC Head of Talent Pathway, Steve Snell.

Steve joined Somerset during the 2011 season and played a prominent role in the Club’s impressive performances in that winter’s Champions League. Before joining Somerset, Steve had a good career with Gloucestershire.

How and why did you end up behind the stumps?

“I was 12 and playing in a six-a-side competition for my local club side and I was by far the worst bowler but probably the best fielder. I suggested I keep wicket as I felt I was letting the team down with my bowling. We won the final and I loved being in the action all the time.”

Was it always the dream to be a ‘keeper?

“Not really. I wanted to emulate Bryan Robson more than I did Jack Russell, but Alex Fergusons loss was cricket’s gain I guess!”

Which keepers do you most admire and why?

“I loved watching Alex Stewart and how he went about all his cricket, particularly in the early 1990s. As my understanding of wicket keeping grew, Jack Russell became someone I also hugely admired. I also loved watching Ian Healy keep wicket and how sharp he was to Shane Warne. James Foster was probably the best ‘keeper around when I was playing, but it was the consistency of his work ethic and pre-match routines that were so impressive to me. I used to love watching him prepare for games in such a proactive, skillful and diligent way.”

Why do you think ‘keepers have a reputation for being a little mad?

“I think that because the job is so tough, so unique and such hard work physically, you need to have a little bit of quirkiness to help get you through it. I wouldn’t say it’s so much of being mad, but finding ways to keep yourself stimulated to be able to be ready and able to take a chance when it comes. I think mad could be correct in the sense that it’s an unbelievably tough job. It’s an unselfish job too in a sense because the ‘keeper is relied upon in lots of ways on and off the field.”

What traits make a quality ‘keeper?

“Resilience, fitness, power, flexibility, excellent concentration, being an excellent communicator plus excellent observation skills of conditions, batsman, bowlers. You also need to be tactically astute. I could go on for days! Being able to catch helps too.

Is it enough to just be an exceptional ‘keeper or is there the pressure to be a quality batter too?

“There is always pressure, but there is no path in the game if batting isn’t to a certain standard.”

Do you think it’s now more important to be a batter who can keep, rather than solely a quality ‘keeper?

“Why does it have to be one or the other? Emphasis has to be on both. England are blessed with some high quality in the area at the moment.”

Is there more pressure on a ‘keeper than on any other player?

“Each player has their own challenges, but certainly I think a ‘keeper’s mistakes can be more visible.”

How did you deal with that pressure?

I had to remind myself to catch the next ball. You can’t do anything about what has happened. You have to use the information that you have and try and do the best that you can. You have to remind yourself that it is just a game sometimes. That is easier said than done though.”

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received when it comes to ‘keeping?

“I’ve received a lot of helpful advice over the years, but the general theme that every single ball is important in any game, and at any stage of the game, no matter the score is has always stuck with me.”

What were your tricks of the trade? Were you a sledger? Did you have specific tactics for getting an advantage over a particular player?

“I used to enjoy getting into a bit of a scrap out there if I’m honest! There were no specific tactics, but I did enjoy having a good time out there and I wasn’t shy of a word. It usually comes back to haunt you though! I do think generally that society is changing the way the game is played for the better though.”

What is your favourite moment behind the stumps?

“Taking my first catch in professional cricket. It was against Hampshire and it was a diving right-handed catch to remove Derek Kenway at Cheltenham college. I remember it like it was yesterday and I have a great picture of it. To be honest it still makes me emotional in a positive sense thinking about it. It meant everything to me to have a chance in the first team and show people that I could do it.”

Which dismissal gave you the most pleasure?

“I ran Mark Cosgrove out in a T20 game with my right foot. Gloucestershire Coach John Bracewell had banned pre-match football and I remember that I was particular irked about it. I smashed a right foot shot onto the stumps to run Cosgrove out I and celebrated like Alan Shearer afterwards!”

Were there any bowlers that you particularly enjoyed keeping to?

“John Lewis was a quality operator and had great skills. Keeping on a spinning wicket to Abur Rehman at Taunton was brilliant too. I felt in the game with every ball from both.”

Were there any bowlers that you didn’t enjoy keeping to?

“Any right-arm pace bowler bowling around the wicket to right-handers or a left-arm pace bolwer coming around the wicket to a left hander can make a very challenging angle for a ‘keeper. No keeper likes byes and this angle makes it very tough.”

What is the best bit about being a ‘keeper?

“Being in the game all the time and having the best view of the action.”

What’s the worst thing about being a ‘keeper?

“Over 600 squats a day on average over the course of a season can leave you with a backside bigger than you would like!”

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