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Andy Hurry gives his thoughts on 2018: Part One

2018 saw Andy Hurry return to Somerset County Cricket Club as Director of Cricket.

In his first year at the helm, Somerset finished as runners up in the First Division of the Specsavers County Championship and qualified for Finals Day in the Vitality Blast.

We spoke to Andy today to get his thoughts on the 2018 campaign.

Here is part one of that interview:

Have you enjoyed your new role?

“It’s been challenging, because in the past I’ve always been a Head Coach. This is a completely new position for me and it’s a challenge that I’m really enjoying. It’s been good to take a step back and look at it from the outside to ensure that we’ve got the right systems and processes in place to support the Head Coach and the team in order for them to achieve success.

“I still get the opportunity to work with the players now and again when invited by the Head Coach and that allows me to maintain a connection with the players, and I really value that.”

What have been some of the biggest challenges?

“I’ve been stretched by the challenge of player recruitment, especially regarding overseas signings. Obviously we had to deal with the situation surrounding Cameron Bancroft and I was really pleased with how we then handled the recruitment of Matt Renshaw and subsequently Azhar Ali. I was also pleased by what Corey Anderson and Jerome Taylor added to the squad in the Vitality Blast.

“However, that sort of thing is becoming more and more challenging because of all the competing demands of international and global T20 cricket as well. Being able to get the right players with the right character to be available for the right amount of games is difficult.

“I’ve been stretched in a number of areas, but I feel that I’ve taken some good learning from that and that will stand me in even better stead moving forward. I’m relishing the challenge and I think we’re on our way to achieving something special in the future.”

Are you happy with what the Club achieved in 2018?

“I think this season started really well and I was really pleased with our pre-season preparation. I think that the marquee was hugely influential towards the success that we had early on in the Championship. Those early wins gave us great momentum and great belief.

“We were competitive in the Championship for the majority of the season, but it was frustrating that we fell away at the end. The frustrating part isn’t how we went about our business, it’s frustrating because a tremendous amount of effort and dedication was shown by the players, the staff and the supporters. To have not put Surrey under greater pressure at the end was disappointing. It was so frustrating because I think we’ve got the best team and we fell at a couple of hurdles at the back end of the season. The Royal London One-Day Cup campaign started well and we fell away because of a bit of inconsistency at times. We finished really strongly and we will take some great learning from that campaign. I think we grew from the experiences that we’d had in the 50-over competition with the ball and progressed really well with that. We took that in to the Vitality Blast where we became more consistent.

“The overseas acquisitions filled some gaps that we had within our white ball squad. Players behind those overseas players in the pecking order will have learned a lot from them and will have therefore developed as a result. I was particularly pleased with how we played in the group stage of the Vitality Blast and especially how we competed against Notts Outlaws in the quarter-final. There were some outstanding displays in that competition and our fielding was extraordinary. Our batting had tremendous depth and it was a real team effort.

“We were all disappointed with the performance in the semi-final at Edgbaston because again I believe that we had the best team. We will learn form that and implement that learning over the winter.

“I felt that we were good enough to win silverware this year. I was pleased with the progress that we’ve made across all formats and that will enhance our chances of winning something next season.”

What was your highlight and low point of the season?

“It’s very difficult to single out one highlight because there’s been so many. The high point for me isn’t about one performance, it’s about how someone always stood up when we needed them to. We kept finding people to stand up with the bat and the ball when we needed it. Everyone else then gelled into place around that performance which kept us moving in the right direction. That was really encouraging for me.

“I also thought that our fielding was outstanding in all three formats. The way we generate energy in the field and support our bowlers is excellent and we need to continue to do that.

“There were a couple of early performances in the Championship where we were under pressure and showed real fight which was really encouraging. The Vitality Blast match at Hove is one game that does stand out though. The team performance there was outstanding, as it was here against Notts Outlaws in the quarter-final. Notts were the white ball team of 2017 and we outplayed them. That was a great step for us and was a real reflection of how far we’ve come in 12 months.

“The low point is not winning the County Championship. We got ourselves in a really strong position, but the results against Hampshire and Lancashire really took the wind out of our sails.”

Did one individual performance stand out for you this year?

“Rather than highlighting an individual performance, I’d like to mention an individual. This player’s performances across all three formats this season were significant, and that was reflected in him picking up the Player of the Year trophy.

“James Hildreth has performed consistently in Championship cricket for a number of years and he played some crucial innings for us again this year. One in particular was against Yorkshire at Headingley when we were under a lot of pressure. He shared a partnership with Azhar Ali that enabled us to go on and win the game. He also put in important performances with the bat in the Royal London One-Day Cup and the Vitality Blast and was consistent in both.

“I’m really frustrated for him that his performances over the years haven’t been recognised by England at senior level. His performances across the season were a real standout for me.”

Part two of this interview will be available later this week.

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