Andy Hurry looks back on 2020

Despite just missing out on silverware at the very final hurdle, 2020 was another impressive year for Somerset County Cricket Club. Some outstanding on-field performances plus the emergence of several extremely talented young players ensured that this season was indeed a memorable one.

Here, Somerset Director of Cricket, Andy Hurry gives his views on the campaign.

“It’s been an incredibly successful season,” he said. “There was a Lord’s five-day final, where we continued to play some outstanding cricket, alongside a number of things that are extremely exciting from the Club’s perspective moving forward.”

“This year has also given us an opportunity to find out a lot more about our players following the impact of Covid-19. The players had to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their own training and the demands of being isolated during lockdown. I was impressed by how everyone threw themselves into their strength and conditioning training, and how they invested their time and resource into taking that responsibility so that they could hit the ground running and ensure that they were physically robust enough to get through the demands of the season. That was very pleasing because it was unique to how we would of normally prepared for a season.

“When we eventually all returned back to training everyone was so excited to be back in each other’s company. Everyone had to face the initial challenges of getting used to the new protocols and measures that were put in place to create a safe environment, but the boys adapted and adjusted really quickly.

“We had a lot of momentum from last season and, due to the winter break and the Covid-19 situation, there was a chance that we could have lost some of that and started on the back foot. However, the players embraced the situation and we certainly hit the ground running with some seriously convincing performances.

“One of the most exciting things for me is that I’m convinced that we performed to another level in red-ball cricket this year. Our bowling unit is simply phenomenal, we hit the right areas more consistently and there is no doubt we have put opposition batsman under significant pressure. They are unbelievable role models for our young players who are coming through the system.

“From a batting perspective, we had nine hundreds in the Bob Willis Trophy this year. That’s really exciting. There were centuries from Tom Abell (2), George Bartlett, Steve Davies, Jamie Overton and Eddie Byrom, whose vital hundred in a Lord’s final will give him huge confidence. The progress of Tom Lammonby has been really exciting too. To make hundreds in three consecutive red-ball games is a great achievement. There was also a hundred for Babar Azam in the Vitality Blast.”

Andy was particularly impressed by how some of the younger players in the squad made the transition in to the First XI.

“We gave Lewis Goldsworthy and Will Smeed their debuts in the Vitality Blast this year. Lewis made his debut at Glamorgan and straight away he looked like he was born for it. That is really encouraging for the future and I’m really excited to see how he will develops across all formats of the game.

“Will demonstrated his potential in the game against Gloucestershire and he will take a huge amount of confidence from that. The future for the Club is very exciting.

“These players will have learned some valuable lessons from their experiences and there will have been some constructive learnings to take away as well. That will give us areas to work on and develop with them over the winter.

“Youth creates energy and excitement. When both of those players made their debuts there was a visible lift within the dressing room. There was an excitement from the group for the players making their debut. They were genuinely excited to see these young men perform because they believe in them. It’s also really healthy for us as a Club to have young aspiring players pushing more established players. That’s been a recipe for success here for a number of years now. Healthy competition for places is vital and it’s important that young players are embedded into an experienced group in order to aid their development but also to bring that energy to the more established players who are energised by the positivity of young professionals.”

Despite the disappointment of defeat to Essex in the final of the bob Willis Trophy, Andy believes that the team and staff should be really proud of their performances this summer.

“The main lesson that we will take away from this year is that if you stick to your processes, you’ll get the rewards,” he explained. “The evidence suggests to me that if we keep doing the things that we talk about every day then we will continue to be a leading force to be reckoned with within domestic cricket in this country. It’s really exciting to see not only the senior players demonstrating that, but the emerging talent too. Everyone wants to be a part of a successful team and there is no doubt in my mind that we are very close to winning more trophies. That said, I believe that we are already successful because of the quality and the consistency that we have demonstrated.”

Now that the season has come to an end, what are the next steps?

“Obviously, there is still some uncertainty on the structure for next season,” Andy explained. “Hopefully, there will be clarification in that regard soon. We will plan for a full county programme across three formats and in the immediate future we will be reviewing this year, understanding what we have done well and what we can grow moving forward.

“We also need to ensure that the players get the right recovery and rest as well as planning for our return in November. There is always a great opportunity to develop by playing the game and that is why we often see a number of players going overseas during the winter. It can be a benefit to them as players and also as people. However, that may not be possible this winter due to the current restrictions that are in place. Therefore, our plans are to ensure that everyone has a bespoke programme based around their individual needs from a physicality perspective and also from a skills perspective. If the opportunity to go overseas should then become available, then we will certainly look to explore that.”

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