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Jason Explains Pre-season Friendly Format

Somerset Head Coach Jason Kerr is relishing the opportunity to meet local rivals Gloucestershire in a recently announced pre-season friendly. 

The clubs have agreed to meet for a red-ball practice match, starting on Sunday July 26, with the first two days being played at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, and the last two at the Bristol County Ground.

While a fixture list for the coming campaign has yet to be finalised, it has been announced that games will commence with the Bob Willis Trophy, a series of four-day matches, before a shortened T20 competition, beginning on August 27.

Gloucestershire and Somerset have therefore decided that the pre-season clash, behind closed doors, should be based on the County Championship format.

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr said: “We will simply take the score at the end of the second day at Taunton and move it to Bristol where the match will continue.

“There are a lot of benefits in doing that. There is the potential for the players to practice on two different types of pitches ahead of the new season.

“Under normal circumstances, we would be looking at three or four warm-up games, so it will be good to have varying conditions over the course of the one match.

“Just as importantly, it will give both clubs the opportunity to see how cricket will work logistically in the current circumstances.

“A huge amount of work has gone into getting the grounds ready, but it will be useful to test matchday operations at both Taunton and Bristol.”

While there will be nothing at stake apart from local pride and no crowd to provide an atmosphere, Kerr expects the match with Gloucestershire to be hugely competitive.

“Apart from the local rivalry, there will be players in both sides looking to claim places when the season proper begins,” he said.

The idea of a pre-season derby was first discussed some weeks ago, when Gloucestershire head coach Richard Dawson was working at Taunton in his role as England spin bowling coach ahead of the current Test series against West Indies.

Dawson’s team will require no motivation, having been denied the chance to compete with their neighbours in the County Championship First Division this summer following promotion last year. 

Gloucestershire assistant head coach Ian Harvey said: “This will be a fantastic opportunity for our players to test themselves against quality opposition ahead of the first game.

“We are extremely grateful to both Somerset and our own staff for the amount of work behind the scenes to get this fixture to happen at both venues.

“On and off the field, there are many challenges that we need to prepare for over the next couple of months.” 

Play will commence at 11am at Taunton and Bristol, with 90 overs to be bowled in a day, rather than the customary 96 in Championship cricket.

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