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Hildy reflects on dramatic 17th season

Since making his First XI debut in 2003, James Hildreth has gone on to become one of the Club’s finest batsmen.

As he prepares for his 18th season with the County, we sat down with him in Stragglers Coffee House to look back on 2019 and to find out his thoughts ahead of 2020.

Obviously one of the highlights of the summer was lifting the Royal London One-Day Cup at Lord’s, but what was it like for a man who has previous experience of winning silverware with the Club?

“That was such an amazing day and it was a great tournament for us,” James said. “It was an amazing achievement from the guys because we’ve got a relatively young squad. It was just brilliant for us to get a trophy after all those years.

“Obviously, we also came so close to winning the Championship again as the season went right down to the wire. It was a shame that we couldn’t quite get across the line, but credit has to go to Essex. They lost fewer games, so fair play to them. All in all, it was a season that we can be really proud of and certainly one that we can build on.”

James hit the winning runs in this year’s final and he also played the winning stroke when Somerset last lifted a one-day trophy, the Twent20 Cup in 2005, so how did both of those days compare?

“They were very different occasions,” he said. “To play in a final is a great achievement and it feels different to any other game. To get across the line in both was obviously brilliant. It was more of a razzmatazz event in 2005. Girls Aloud were performing on the day and there were four different teams there, so there was a slightly different atmosphere. When you play in a T20 final some of the crowd have left because their team’s been knocked out, whereas the 50-over final at Lord’s is a more traditional kind of event.

“Lord’s is an amazing place to play and Somerset has a history in that competition. We felt that on the day. Growing up at this Club and seeing former Somerset teams win trophies and hearing about the Glory Years team in limited overs cricket, you know that it’s in our history. You know how much it means to supporters from seeing those trophies won in the past. Hopefully this trophy will be talked about in the future. I don’t have a favourite because they were very different days, but they were both absolutely brilliant.”

The majority of the squad have already reported for pre-season training, so we asked Hildy what the mood was like in the camp and what the young players who have just graduated from the Academy can expect.

“Pre-season in the winter is always a little bit strange because people are off playing cricket in all parts of the world,” he said. “It’ll be strange going into a dressing room without Tres and Tregs. It’ll be a bit different and I guess I’m one of those older guys now.

“We’ve got a great squad. They really are a great bunch of lads and the new boys have spent a lot of time around the professional environment during their time on the Academy. They’ve done twelfth-man duties and spent some time with the pros at Academy sessions, so they know most of us already. I think it’s great for the Club that this kind of system is in place. I love helping the batsmen out and I’ll be happy to support anyone who wants to work on their batting.”

What has James got planned for the winter months?

“I’m spending a couple of days a week with Arbuthnot Latham who have offices in Exeter. My official role is Private Banking Executive. I’m trying to learn about that environment with potentially one eye on the future.”

How does James think the Club will fare in 2020?

“It’s going to be really interesting,” he predicted. “With the squad that we’ve got, we’re in a really good place as a Club from a cricket point of view and that’s really exciting. There are exciting opportunities available for several players across a number of formats this year and we’ve got some great youngsters coming through. In terms of talent and in terms of the future, Somerset is looking really bright.”

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