|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Three months ago Somerset supporters thought Dave was a Freeview TV channel broadcasting endless repeats of Top Gear and QI. They now eagerly await the arrival of Dave at Taunton. Dave Nosworthy is the man given the role of turning Somerset's brickbat-earning perennial bridesmaids into trophy-winning, bouquet-throwing brides. The new director of cricket arrived in mid-March and he will need to hit the ground running.
At his disposal he has a squad little changed from the Somerset who in 2012 were runners-up in Division One of the County Championship, reached T20 Finals Day and narrowly missed out on qualification for the CB40 semi-finals. These were remarkable achievements in a season marred by unprecedented injuries, when at one point in May the squad was down to its last 11 fit players.
Most notable of those injured was the captain, Marcus Trescothick, who played just 17 matches across all formats, scoring 655 runs (compared to 41 matches and 2518 runs in 2011). The news is that following last summer's ankle surgery the Trescothick trotter is fully functional. Somerset need a fit Trescothick if they are to win their first County Championship this year.
The loss of Trescothick's runs last year was alleviated by Nick Compton's annus mirabilis. It is heartening to know that, in these days of academies, performance programmes and fast-tracking, sheer weight of runs or wickets in county cricket does not go unnoticed by the England selectors. Compton's success with England in India and New Zealand will make him an infrequent visitor to Taunton. Somerset must plan for his absence.
Their early season overseas signing will help. South Africa Test opener Alviro Petersen probably won't get Somerset supporters' pulses racing but, if he brings his Glamorgan form of 2011 (1069 runs in 15 matches at an average of 42.76), there will be no complaints. Whether he slots in as a direct swap for Compton at No. 3, or opens the batting with 2013 beneficiary Arul Suppiah dropping down the order, remains to be seen. Just where Petersen fits into Somerset's strong limited-overs batting line-up will be interesting, not only for the early season YB40 matches but the FLt20 as well.
James Hildreth, Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler complete Somerset's likely Championship top six. The question everyone is asking is whether Kieswetter or Buttler will wear the gloves. A compromise whereby Kieswetter keeps in the Championship and Buttler in limited-overs cricket seems an all-too-simple answer. Certainly this may suit Buttler, freeing him to concentrate his Championship efforts on improving his batting consistency to match his undoubted talent. Whether Kieswetter would feel so altruistic in relinquishing the gloves to his county colleague in the shorter formats so soon after being cast aside by England is a different matter.
The Somerset chief executive, Guy Lavender, recently sought to pour cold milk in this storm in a teacup, saying that the club's priority was the long-term success of Somerset, not England. A final, diplomatic decision will have to be made by Nosworthy, and his early performance in charge may be judged on how he handles the wishes and ambitions of two talented players along with the needs of Somerset and pressure from the ECB.
Peter Trego gave 160% in 2012. As the queue for the physio's table grew ever longer the allrounder carried the bowling attack like a tattooed Atlas. In the Championship he played 60% more matches and bowled 60% more overs than any other bowler. His reward was 50 wickets - 17 more than in his previous best season. He has earned the new ball for the start of this season. Trego will also want to improve on last season's limited-over batting returns, where he can be as destructive as any in Somerset's batting line-up.
Steve Kirby will share the new ball in the Championship. Alfonso Thomas returns for the start of the season, leaving Adam Dibble, twins Craig and Jamie Overton and Gemaal Hussain competing for one bowling spot.
The final member of the Championship line-up should be left-arm spinner George Dockrell. It is easy to forget this tall Irishman is only 20 years old. He is undertaking a part-time degree course that shouldn't affect his availability; with fewer absences due to Ireland commitments this summer, he could become the first Somerset spinner to take 50 Championship wickets in a season since Mushtaq Ahmed in 1997. It will be difficult to choose who to leave out when Abdur Rehman returns to Taunton in the late season.
Thanks to last season's injury woes there is a host of young players with plenty of first-team experience. Competition for places has never been higher. Batsman Alex Barrow, allrounders Craig Meschede and Lewis Gregory and legspinner Max Waller may find their chances come first in limited-overs matches. There is the prospect of a second overseas signing for the FLT20.
Whilst seeking the elusive first-ever County Championship title, do not expect Somerset to take their eyes off the other prizes. Recent seasons have shown them more than capable of challenging in all formats.
Likely Championship side
What I love Sun, cider and crowds of the best supporters in the country.
What I'd change The oft-repeated assumption that Taunton is the home of benign batting pitches. Work on the square means this is no longer the case.
Nicky King is a Somerset supporter and member of Somerset CCC's radio commentary team. She tweets hereFeeds: Nicky King
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
Nicky King, a Somerset supporter and member of Somerset CCC's radio team, was weaned on the Somerset of Richards, Botham and Garner. A career in sport would have followed had she not been blessed with poor hand-eye co-ordination and a girly throwing arm. Instead she followed in the footsteps of another childhood influence, James Herriott, and became a vet. A keen follower of county cricket in the summer and England tours in the winter, away from cricket she bakes a legendary carrot cake, and can separate a cat from its testicles in six minutes. @somersetbagpuss