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Jason's Season Review: Part Two

Earlier this week we met up with Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr to get his thoughts on the 2018 season.

Here is part two of that interview:

How did you approach team selection for each competition?

“My philosophy is that you pick the best XI to win a game of cricket, no matter what game that is. If that means including some of the younger players and creating opportunities for them then so be it. In the Royal London One-Day Cup we wanted to bat deep and that meant that there were different roles for Lewis Gregory and for Roelof van der Merwe. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out in that competition. We played some really good cricket in that format but we were just too inconsistent. For me, there are no excuses because you learn from every defeat and it’s important that you take something from every loss.

“We lost our captain when Tom Abell got injured. Peter Trego then took the reins and then Lewis came back in and then Craig Overton got injured. That meant that we couldn’t really consistently select the same XI, which we were able to do in the Vitality Blast. That continuity in the T20 really was one of the keys to how well we played in that competition. Players were able to fully understand their roles, learn from mistakes game to game and implement what they’ve learned as they move forward. We weren’t able to do that in the 50-over competition as we were constantly having to chop and change. One of the highlights of the season for me though was the character that the players showed in that last game at Hampshire when we were chasing that massive total.”

Somerset had an impressive campaign in this year’s Vitality Blast. How important was it for you to be able to name an unchanged side on so many occasions?

“After three games questions were being asked of certain individuals in the team, but I think it’s important for a coach to keep backing their players. They need to learn from their mistakes and use that experience as a learning tool. There’s no question that we were poor in a couple of games but the players took that on board.

“If you use Jamie Overton as an example, his growth throughout the tournament was impressive. He just got better and better as the competition went on because he was learning and taking confidence from the things that he did well. If we had made changes early in the tournament we would have just been passing that pressure on to someone else by asking them to come straight in and perform. If you can keep everyone fit and therefore create competition for places, that breeds confidence.”

What were our main strengths in this years Vitality Blast?

“There were lots of occasions where we were on the back foot early and statistics tell you that if you lose three wickets in the powerplay you don’t win too many matches. However, we managed to buck that trend. I wanted guys coming in later in the order who could win games or score big runs. Lewis did that brilliantly and Corey Anderson had a fantastic competition. There were calls for Corey to bat higher and face more balls, but the impact he had in certain innings from that position were invaluable and gave us huge momentum going in to defending a total or winning the game. It was certainly a change in tack to bat so deep and that paid off for us this year because we had a number of uncertain starts.

“The bowling attack in T20 cricket this year was brilliant and it once again comes down to consistency. About three games in to the competition we worked out what we needed to do and added Jerome Taylor to the squad who proved to be truly world class at the end of the innings. The key was that week in week out the players were fulfilling the same roles and that was why we saw them develop and improve as a unit.”

The quarter-final against Notts Outlaws at the Cooper Associates County Ground will live long in the memory. How was it for you as a coach?

“We’re incredibly fortunate with the support that we get and to have had so many people here on the reserve day was great. The way they all rallied around the guys when we were trying to defend that total was absolutely superb.”

How was Finals Day for you?

“Looking back on the day you have to say that Sussex played brilliantly. If we’re honest I think we have to say that we weren’t at our best in the first half of the match. Again, we can learn a lot from that because we have a young side and a lot of them haven’t experienced that before. I was impressed with the way we chased that total after having been on the back foot early and I thought Tom Abell was outstanding. Despite the defeat and the massive disappointment that surrounded that, there were some positives to take from the day which is encouraging for the future.

“We would be foolish if we didn’t learn from that experience. We’ve had a debrief about the game already, but we will look at it again during the winter. I’m a huge believer in learning from adversity and it was a challenging day for us, but it’s one that we can learn things such as how to manage yourself in a pressure situation. Hopefully the guys will be in those types of situations again soon and will make different decisions.”

What happens now?

“The players will be given some well earned downtime and then those who aren’t going abroad will report back at the beginning of November. The planning for 2019 is well underway and our management group have been digging deeply in to what went well and what didn’t go so well as we continually look to improve. The exciting part of the winter is that you get to plan for the following year in the hope that we can go one better.”

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