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Press Day 2021: "We have aspirations to win all three competitions"

A virtual press day was held at the Cooper Associates County Ground on Thursday afternoon.

The event gave the opportunity for members of the press to question Club Captain Tom Abell, Head Coach Jason Kerr, Director of Cricket Andy Hurry and Chief Executive Gordon Hollins.

Looking ahead to the 2021 campaign, Tom outlined that the Club were aiming to be successful across all three competitions.

“We certainly don’t want to put any limitations on ourselves,” he said. “Going into the summer, we have aspirations to win all three competitions. I honestly believe we have the ability in the squad to be able to do that. If you look at the depth and the competition we have, I don’t see why not.

“Of course, it’s going to be tough and we will have challenges along the way, but I think we are always getting better as a squad and are learning from our experiences over the last couple years.”

The captain added: “We are a very driven group. We had the taste of what success felt like in 2019 and we want to feel that again!

“In terms of the quality that we have at the Club, it fills me with a lot of confidence. If you marry that with the depth of talent, I don’t see any reason as to why we should not be competing across all formats.”

Regarding his own game, Tom distanced himself from the idea of being Somerset’s T20 death bowler, despite his exploits for the Delhi Bulls in the Abu Dhabi T10 tournament this winter.

“That’s quite ambitious,” he joked. “We have plenty of highly skilled bowlers. It is something I aspire to do, but I think I have a lot of work to do before that can be the case.”

There was a new face at the Cooper Associates County Ground over the winter with the arrival of Marchant de Lange. On the South African’s arrival, Tom was full of praise: “As a character, he is exactly what you want in your side. I like to think he has fitted in seamlessly in the dressing room.

“He brings that X factor with the ball, that point of difference to complement our skilled attack. Hopefully, he can be that missing piece of the jigsaw and take us one better this year.”

Pre-season has given the opportunity for Somerset’s Academy player’s to be involved in the senior set up. Head coach Jason Kerr said that he was “immensely impressed” with the young players over pre-season.

“Six weeks of pre-season has been invaluable,” Jason said. “This week we saw Sonny Baker and Ned Leonard be excellent with the ball.

“With Second Team cricket starting again this year, the competition for places is probably going to be greater than it has ever been across the three formats. It is certainly exciting for the long-term future of the club.”

The 2020 season saw Somerset reach the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s in a dramatically shortened campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic. Familiar foe Essex were crowned Champions at the Home of Cricket. The match was drawn, yet Essex won by virtue of scoring more first innings runs than Somerset.

Despite agonising defeat, 2020 saw young players play an important role in the season.

Talking about the 2020 campaign, Jason said: “I took a huge amount of confidence from last year. We were outstanding with the ball. The group are incredibly excited about this season.”

Questions were additionally fielded to the Club’s Chief Executive, Gordon Hollins. His arrival in March 2020 feels like a distant memory with all that has occurred in the past year.

When quizzed on his first twelve months in charge, Gordon said: “I joined the Club a week before the first lockdown. It has been interesting but has given me the opportunity to see just how committed our Members and supporters are. We had a phenomenal amount of support last summer”.

Director of Cricket, Andy Hurry also spoke about the challenges of the past year. “There’s no doubt that the last twelve months have been challenging for a lot of people,” he said. “There is no doubt that in cricket it has presented its challenges. One of the things I’m so proud of is the attitude of all the players. They’ve understood how important it was to follow all the protocols. There is no doubt they have given it everything they can and remained hungry to maximise opportunities through the winter.

“We’ve had a productive winter and it is great credit to our ground staff that we have had such excellent surfaces to prepare and compete on.”

Despite the departures of Jamie Overton, Dom Bess and Nathan Gilchrest in 2020, Andy Hurry was quick to ensure supporters that this is due to the high competition for places.

“We want to ensure we are doing everything we possibly can to keep our players at the Club. In a way we have become victims of our own success. We have significant competition for places, we have been relatively successful and we’re competing for silverware. As a consequence, we can’t keep everybody happy. It is challenging. It would be more of a question for us if we weren’t producing players and weren’t competing.”

Tom Abell was full of praise for the Somerset staff and how they have handled the past twelve months. “From a playing point of view, the way our group gets managed is phenomenal,” he said. “Clearly there’s a lot of competition in the group, but the management of the players has been outstanding.

“There comes a point where individuals have their aspirations and goals, and they decide to follow those. In terms of management of players, I don’t think we could ask for anymore.”

 Somerset begin their LV= Insurance County Championship campaign on Thursday April 8th with a trip back to Lord’s to face Middlesex.

By Benjamin Redwood.

The full virtual press conference can be viewed below:

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