Snell gets Champions League call
Less than a month ago Steve Snell, the former Gloucestershire wicketkeeper, was playing Minor Counties cricket for Hertfordshire but on Sunday he will fly with Somerset to the Champions League Twenty20 qualifier in Hyderabad.
Somerset have been given a headache over their wicketkeeping position due to the likely England call-ups of Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler for the two Twenty20 internationals against West Indies next week. The matches coincide with the qualifying event in Hyderabad from where three teams will join the main Champions League event.
Somerset went through a similar scenario at the end of August when Kieswetter and Buttler were both in the Twenty20 squad to face India and called up Snell, 28, for the final CB40 group match against Essex - which they needed to win to qualify for the semi-finals - where he made an unbeaten 18 and took two catches. He then played the following Championship match against Hampshire, but the feeling was that Somerset would gamble on using 19-year-old Alex Barrow behind the stumps.
"I think we might have been made to look ridiculous had we not taken a specialist keeper," Brian Rose, Somerset's director of cricket, told the club website. "Alex Barrow could have done it at a pinch, but it wouldn't have been fair on him. Steve Snell did a good job for us in the CB40 game with Essex and on the opening day of the Championship game with Hampshire so he was the obvious choice."
Snell, though, will not be needed if Somerset qualify for the next stage of the tournament because Kieswetter and Buttler will be able to come into the squad providing they get clearance from England. The same applies for George Dockrell, the Ireland left-arm spinner, who isn't available for the early matches due to international commitments. Lewis Gregory and Max Waller would be the other two players to drop out if all the internationals became available.
Somerset's problems haven't been confined to their wicketkeeper. Gemaal Hussain, the pace bowler, is having problems obtaining a visa for India and if it doesn't come through in time his place will be taken by Chris Jones. However, they have been boosted by the return of Roelof van der Merwe, the South Africa left-arm spinner, who will be the second overseas player alongside Murali Kartik in a potent spin attack. Alfonso Thomas will captain the team in the absence of Marcus Trescothick who no longer travels overseas.
The odds are stacked against Somerset heading into the qualifiers because of a congested schedule which has them flying out on Sunday evening having played the CB40 final at Lord's on Saturday. They arrive in Hyderabad less than 24 hours before their opening match against Auckland on September 20.
"We shall see how the players are on Tuesday morning after their long journey before making practice plans and, of course, our first game is that evening, starting at 8 p.m. Hyderabad time," Rose said. "It's far from ideal, but we are going to give it our best shot and in Twenty20 cricket you just never know. It only takes a couple of big individual performances to swing a game."
Somerset Squad: Alex Barrow, Nick Compton, Adam Dibble, James Hildreth, Gemaal Hussain, Murali Kartik, Steve Kirby, Craig Meschede, Arul Suppiah, Alfonso Thomas (capt), Peter Trego. Roelof van der Merwe, Steve Snell (wk), Lewis Gregory, Max Waller