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The Day Tom Banton arrived on the scene

July 14th, 2016. Arundel Castle. It won’t be a occasion that is instantly memorable in the minds of Somerset fans, but it was a very significant step in the career of Tom Banton.

Banton had arrived at the Somerset Academy the previous autumn after moving to King’s College in Taunton, where appropriately enough the teacher in charge of the BTEC course he had enrolled on was Aimee Hildreth, wife of the Somerset batsman James.

The first time he donned a Somerset shirt in a competitive match was on May 23rd, 2016 in the Second XI championship match against Middlesex when going in at number four he hit 96 off 129 balls with 15 fours.

Three days later Banton played his first T20 match for the Second XI. This was also against Middlesex at Taunton Vale when opening the innings he struck 24 off 20 balls against an attack that was led by Harry Podmore and Tom Helm.

But it was Tom’s next appearance for Somerset at the Second XI T20 Finals Day that he really announced himself to the wider cricketing world. In the pressure of a cup final, it was Banton that people around the ground were talking about when the day was done.

Hosted at the beautiful Arundel Castle Ground where the cricket is played in an amphitheatre like hollow surrounded by trees, Somerset 2nd XI took on Tom’s former Club Warwickshire in the second semi-final.

Skipper Adam Hose won the toss, chose to bat and shortly afterwards was striding out to the middle alongside Tom to face the Warwickshire attack led by Oliver Hannon-Dalby who was already a seasoned professional having spent four years with Yorkshire before moving to join the Bears in 2013.

At this stage very few sitting on the boundary edge had heard the name Tom Banton or knew what they were going to witness over the course of the next few hours.

With the score on 11 the experienced Hannon-Dalby claimed the wickets of Hose and Tim Rouse with consecutive balls. Banton and Bartlett then added 13 runs off 12 balls before the new batsman was out for 10. Michael Leask and Josh Davey followed soon after and on 44 for five off 7.5 overs, Somerset were struggling.

Tom, who was then joined by Max Waller, then stepped up to rescue the innings and he did it in some style. Over the course of the next 11 overs he took the situation by the scruff of the neck and proceeded to play an array of reverse sweeps, ramps and scoop shots that were nothing short of breath-taking.

By the time Tom departed with the total on 146 with seven balls remaining, bowled by Hannon-Dalby, he had scored 80 off just 58 deliveries with two sixes and eight fours. Tom’s sixth wicket partnership of 102 with Max, who remained unbeaten on 26, enabled Somerset to post 151 for seven by the end of their innings. The young batsman had quite simply transformed the Somerset innings, but he wasn’t done yet.

Proving that he was no one trick pony the 17 year old exchanged his bat for the gloves and played a dominant role behind the stumps, as Warwickshire were bowled out for 94 with 10 balls to spare. Tom claimed four victims, two catches and two stumpings to see Somerset through to the final.

In the final it was Middlesex who triumphed, but after watching Tom Banton announce his arrival in the semi that was almost immaterial.

Somerset journalist Richard Walsh, who was reporting on the game for the Club that day said: “The round trip of 280 miles was worth every minute of the drive to watch 17 year old Tom Banton show those of us who were fortunate enough to be there at Arundel Castle just how an exciting talent he really was.

“My memories of that sunny day in July 2016 are still imprinted in my mind and whenever I next see Tom walking out to bat for Somerset – which we all hope wont be too long, I will be reminded of that Second XI T20 Finals Day.

“What a day and what a player Tom Banton is, something to look forward to during these difficult times.”

Somerset’s Digital Marketing and Communications Executive Ben Warren, who was also covering the game for the Club added: “I’d heard bits and pieces about Tom but this was the first time I saw him bat live. It was a beautiful day at a lovely ground and I remember Somerset playing really well to narrowly miss out on winning the tournament. George Bartlett got an excellent half-century in the final against Middlesex and I recall thinking that both were very likely to play for the First XI soon. Looking back now it was a definitely a moment where a lot of Somerset fans, including myself, took notice of Tom and the talent he had.”

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