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Steve Snell proud of his five years at SCCC

Steve Snell has been Director of the Somerset Academy for five years now, a time during which several of the former graduates have gone onto become established first team players.

Looking back over his time in charge of what is widely recognized as one of the best Academies in the country, Steve said: “It’s hard to think it’s five years, but a lot has certainly happened during that time. It has been a hugely enjoyable and simulating experience so far on so many levels.”

The Winchester born keeper, who began his First Class career with Gloucestershire, started his association with Somerset back in 2011 when they were in need of a wicket-keeper because both Jos Buttler and Craig Kieswetter were absent on England duty.

“I owe a great deal to Steve Kirby,” he explained. “In 2011 I was laying in a hospital bed in Bristol after having quite a serious operation when I had a call from him. He told me that Somerset were in need of a wicket-keeper a couple of days later against Essex in a 40-over game. I told him I was in hospital on a drip and didn’t think that I could be of much use.

“However, Kirbs refused to take no for an answer and I ended coming down the next day for a fitness test. If the coaches had known the full extent of my injury, I don’t think I would have played,  but I sensed a great opportunity and was strapped up and took the field against Essex, scored a brisk 17 not out and took a sharp leg side catch off James Foster. I guess that warranted me a few more games.

“I ended going out to India to play in the Champions league with with the side and managed to help win a game for Somerset in the qualifying stages against Auckland Aces, which I guess helped with my affinity with the Club. As enjoyable as that experience was, it all seems so long ago that it’s almost like it happened to another person. I am very grateful for that opportunity that Andy Hurry and Brian Rose trusted me with.

“During the trip to India with Somerset, I had already completed my ECB Level Four coaching qualification and had a clear idea that I wanted to progress in coaching. I remember sitting by the swimming pool talking to Andy Hurry and picking his brains about his journey into coaching. Now it seems so amazing that we work so collaboratively together given that was almost our first connection, so I am really grateful that Kirbs refused to take no for an answer. Now Taunton is certainly my home from a cricketing perspective.

“That’s how my affinity with Somerset started as a player. Fast forward a few years and I’m extremely grateful to Matt Maynard for giving me an opportunity when he joined the Club.

“In taking the role as Academy Director, I was well aware of the reputation the Club had in terms of the quality of the players they we were producing and felt I had a lot to prove, so I had the bit between my teeth that I was going to try improve upon that.

“We have got a great staff at the Somerset Academy and the fact that so many of our former graduates have gone onto play in the First XI is very much a team effort.”

Steve went on: “When I look back at some of the players who have been own the Academy since I started here, the likes of Dom Bess, Ben Green, George Bartlett, Tom Lammonby, Eddie Byrom, Tom Banton, Kasey Aldridge, Lewis Goldsworthy and Sam Young  are all young men that people will recognise as having an extremely exciting future in the game. To be able to see aspects of their development gives me a huge amount of pride in what we are doing as a club.

“However, I guess coaching for me is about helping players grow and I look back at players like Fin Trenouth, Louis Shaw, Liam Redrup, Joe Gore, Sam Wyatt Haines and Sam Underdown, all of who also developed really well in a number of ways. They had a taste of professional cricket but didn’t quite break through for long careers in the professional game, but I hope they look back with a great deal of pride at their efforts and achievements. Playing professional cricket certainly doesn’t define them as people, though I do ask myself what more could have been done to try to help them to pursue a career in the game and prepare them more effectively for a life outside it.

“Whilst I am really proud of the likes of Tom Banton, Tom Lammonby and Dom Bess who have all gone on and made success in the First XI, as a coach I have a tinge of regret and wonder what more could have been done for those who didn’t.

“Over the last five years I have learnt so much from the people I have had exposure to in our environment in Somerset. We have an excellent group of coaches and I believe that we are constantly trying to evolve and improve what we are doing.  I have also been fortunate enough to spend some time with international coaches from Rugby, Swimming and Hockey and I am currently embarking on a high performance leadership course with coaches from other sports.That has been really insightful and interesting.

“My responsibilities have shifted a since I began my role with Somerset. I was looking after the 2nd XI and the Academy when I began and the role then changed to full time with the Academy, which has its own real joys in terms of players transitioning into Second XI cricket and beyond. Seeing the journey of someone like Tom Banton, Eddie Byrom and Tom Lammonby for instance has been exciting.

How does Steve see the future for cricket?

“This is a really interesting time for the game and it has never been a more attractive profession for the players to come into in terms of the level of exposure and opportunity.

“There is a lot more white-ball cricket and so much going on around the world with various leagues and players are playing more, so these are exciting times.

“The incentive for players to be good at short form cricket is much higher than it is to play the longer form. This doesn’t affect us in what we do as we still focus on developing the foundation skills to ensure that they are equipped to perform in four-day and Test cricket, but the lure of the short game for young players is certainly greater.”

Finally Steve talked about Tom Banton, who after spending two years on the Academy has gone onto make such a huge impression in the short format of the game.

“I was very confident in his ability to transfer his skills into professional cricket especially when he got his chance at the top of the order in white ball-cricket. From the first time I saw him take our Under 17s apart in a game I was very keen to get him onto our Academy.

“In his first innings for the Second XI he scored 96 against a strong Middlesex attack and was caught on the boundary try to get his century with a six!  Since then I have seen his game really grow and what he has shown is his ability to take the game to the opposition and look to show people what he can do as a young batter.”

“The way he has played in the Big Bash proves he looks right at home under the spotlight. The bigger the occasion for Tom the more stimulating it is for him.”

Steve added: “I will certainly be following his career with interest with a wry smile on my face because I still remember being sat with Phil Lewis his housemaster at King’s College on the day we signed him on to the Academy. That seems a long time ago but it was probably only four years ago and a lot has happened since then!”

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