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Paul and Ben look back on Royal London Cup campaign.

Somerset’s hopes of retaining the Royal London Cup ended in heart-breaking fashion last week when the young squad, coached by Paul Tweddle and captained by Ben Green, missed out on qualification for the knockout stages by the narrowest of margins.

Now that the dust has settled, we caught up with Paul and Ben to discuss the tournament as a whole.

Obviously, you were disappointed to exit the tournament but what will your overriding feelings be about the 2021 Royal London Cup?

Paul Tweddle: “First and foremost, I’m really proud of the players. They showed what a talented group they are and there’s a lot of ability there. There’s a lot of potential in the squad and I’m extremely proud of how they performed on the field and how they conducted themselves off it. They were absolutely gutted that we didn’t get through.

Ben Green: “I’m really proud of everyone as well. They gave absolutely 100% every time they went out on the field. We were a team that was learning all the way through the tournament and there were things that we did really well and the effort from everyone was outstanding.”

How do you think the tournament has benefited the players who have been involved?

PT: “The tournament has helped to accelerate their development because they’ve been put under pressure at a higher level sooner than they would have been before. That’s a big positive. All you can do when you’re out on the field is perform, and we saw some of the young guys step up impressively. That’s what you want to see. You want to see people who are proud to pull on the shirt and put in performances when it matters.

“We’ve got a proud tradition of producing home-grown players, and in the last few weeks the Members and supporters have had an opportunity to see what that’s going to look like for the next few years. The competition has been really positive in that respect. We’ve got some amazing players coming through who have got really bright futures ahead of them.”

BG: “The competition allowed us to see just how strong the Club is. To be without so many players and to narrowly miss out of the knockout stages is a great achievement. It was great to see the more experienced players like James Hildreth and Steve Davies score so many runs, and to also see the emergence of people like Lewis Goldsworthy and our young seamers excelling.”

We’ve seen the return of crowds to the Cooper Associates County Ground this summer. What did that mean to the players?

PT: “The high point for me was being able to see the engagement between the crowd and the group. Seeing so many people coming out and showing their support was fantastic. The atmosphere at the Cooper Associates County Ground was incredible and I know just how much the guys appreciated that. The messages that we’ve received have been really positive and that kind of support is just amazing.”

BG: “For the young guys to be playing in front of such big crowds at a packed-out Taunton was amazing for them. The support we received was incredible and you can really see what a family club this is because so many people came to the games to support the boys and we will always be so grateful for that.”

What have you learned from the tournament?

PT: “I’ve taken a lot of things from this experience, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Now we’ve got a really exciting run-in to this season. Everyone is fully focused on the Vitality Blast quarter-final against Lancashire and then we’ve got a serious end to the Championship campaign. Hopefully, we can play our part in bringing that championship to Taunton for the first time.”

BG: “The main thing that I’ve learned is that you have to trust your gut feeling and be yourself. Hopefully, my gut was right more often than not! It was great to be able to lean on players like Hildy too in order to get those tactical decisions right in the field. It was only a short stint for me, so I haven’t had to worry about all the other things that Tom and Lewis have got on their plate, but it was a fantastic experience.

“This was a great leadership opportunity for me, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully, it’s an opportunity that will arise again. To lead the players out is a huge honour. When you look at the names of the players who have captained the Club before you, you realise what a tremendous privilege it is. It was an incredible experience for everyone involved and it’s something that I will always remember.”

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