Paul will leave with fond memories

It was announced recently that Paul van Meekeren will be leaving the Club at the end of the season.

We caught up with the 26-year-old Dutchman to discuss his time with Somerset.

“It’s been great to have been part of the county set up here at Somerset,” he said. “Although I probably haven’t played as much cricket as I would have liked to, there aren’t too many Dutch guys who can say that they have played three and a half years in a county set up.

“When I joined, we finished second in the Championship and then the next year we were fighting relegation. Last year we were second and now there is a chance of going one better and getting the first Championship title for the Club, which would be a great leaving present for me.

“Hopefully it’s not the end of me in county cricket, but it looks like I may have a gap year away from it next season.”

Throughout his time with Somerset, the paceman has also been kept busy with international commitments.

“I’ve always been playing cricket for Holland and that has kept me very busy during the winter. I’ll be part of the Dutch team that is involved in the ODI Super League plus we have a T20 competition coming up next month and if we do well enough we will go on to play in Australia and India. There’s a lot of highly competitive cricket for me to play.”

During his years at the Club, Paul has played a prominent part in supporting the Club’s Community Programme, a role that he feels is very important.

“I think that it’s a key part of what a professional cricketer should be doing,” he said. “I remember when I was growing up and my Dad took me to see all the Dutch International footballers taking part in a tournament one New Years Day. I got the chance to meet them and talk with them and it meant so much to me.

“I decided that if ever I got into a position where I could do something to help the next generation take an interest in cricket then I would do it. I really enjoy my community activities as well and if it inspires a few guys to play cricket then it’s a job well done I would say. People like local heroes Tom Abell and Jack Leach inspire a lot of youngsters to take up the game.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it and hopefully it won’t be the last of my community involvement.”

Paul has also been very involved in the Club’s link with Selworthy Special School.

“We can help to make their lives better,” he said. “It’s been great to help them to develop by inspiring them in some way or other.

“I’ve been there on a number of occasions and every time it has been an eye opener. It makes you realize just how blessed you are to play cricket. Helping them is just  an incredible feeling.”

The Netherlands International has also helped Somerset Cricket Board to deliver a number of All Stars cricket sessions. The SCB League & Club Development Officer, Matt Counsell was quick to praise Paul when we spoke to him about the sessions.

“Paul has been an outstanding supporter of many of the programmes that we run especially All Stars,” said Matt. “He has taken time to travel across the county to All Stars Sessions where he has joined in the activities, signed countless autographs and been in a tremendous amount of selfies. Paul has shown great willingness and enthusiasm to inspire the younger generation often going above and beyond”.

How has Paul found living in Taunton?

“If you look at the support we get as Somerset players, it’s just simply fantastic. I’ve also met a lot of people outside of cricket as well.

“I first came to Taunton when I played at the King’s College Festival as a young kid and now I’ve lived here for three years, so it’s a place that will always have happy memories for me.

“I would like to thank all of the fans who come along and support Somerset, and even the fans who think that I’m one of the Overton twins! It means a lot to me as I’m here without my family and close friends.”

What’s next for the Dutchman?

“I am heading off to Ireland for a last-minute tri series with Scotland and Ireland which has been arranged since the Euro Slam was cancelled,” he said. “Then I will go off to Oman for 10 days from October 1st. Then it’s off to Dubai for the ICC tournament which is always very exciting.

“I would like to think that I’ve got a future in county cricket and hopefully I will get another chance at some stage in the future. If I don’t pick up a county next year then I will play club cricket here in England and play some Second XI cricket. If it doesn’t work out, then I will go back home and play a lot of competitive cricket there.

“Playing county cricket is something that I would love to have another go at. I’ve had three or more years living the dream and I hope that I’ve got some more time ahead of me.

“I’m still young enough and I’ve got a lot of overs left in me, as I haven’t bowled as many overs as other 26-years-olds who have been playing county cricket all of their lives.”

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