County previews April 4, 2013

Bowling Somerset's one sticking point


Last year: Second, CC Div 1; Semi-final, T20; Third Group B, CB40

2012 in a nutshell: It says much about how expectations have risen at Somerset that last year was seen as disappointing by some. It probably shouldn't have been. Somerset equalled their best-ever Championship finish in coming second - the fifth time in succession they have finished in the top four - and again qualified - for the fourth time in succession - for T20 finals day only to come unstuck against Hampshire's medium-pacers and spinners in the semi-final. They were the only side to defeat Warwickshire in the Championship, thanks to a terrific innings from Craig Kieswetter, and, along with Warwickshire, the only side to lose only one game. They suffered terribly with injury - the loss of Marcus Trescothick for almost half the season was a colossal blow - though the sustained excellence of Nick Compton, who averaged 99.25 in the Championship, with the bat and Peter Trego, who claimed 50 Championship wickets for the first time in his career, partially made up for it. Various overseas players, notably Chris Gayle, flirted with the club only to ultimately disappoint, but the emergence of yet more talented young players - such as the Overton twins - compensated. They lost their first four CB40 games, which all but ended their interest in the competition, but then went through the rest of the campaign unbeaten.

2013 prospects: If, as seems likely, Somerset are to be without Compton for much of the season, he will prove desperately hard to replace. Alviro Petersen, who has been signed as an overseas player for the first part of the season, is one of those charged with filling Compton's boots, while spinner Abdur Rehman, so successful in his brief stint in 2012, returns towards the end of the season. With a long, strong and positive batting order, Somerset should continue to be a force in the limited-overs formats and look hard to beat in the Championship, but whether they have the bowling firepower to bowl sides out twice remains to be seen. While there are some exciting bowlers emerging, some of the more experienced performers - the likes of Steve Kirby and Alfonso Thomas - are in their mid-30s and may need careful handling. Dave Nosworthy, the new director of cricket, will also have to resolve the issue of finding a way to satisfy two talented young wicketkeeper-batsmen with England aspirations.

Key player: Gemaal Hussain secured a large pay rise when he left Gloucestershire for Taunton at the start of 2011 but, so far, he has failed to live up to expectations with only 35 first-class wickets in two seasons at an average of 39.20. Now aged 29, time is running out for him to justify his signing. It goes without saying that Tresocthick remains a giant at this level.

Bright young thing: Somerset have a host of talented young players. George Dockrell, the Overton twins - Craig has more than a hint of Stuart Broad about his bowling - Lewis Gregory and Craig Meschede - should all have bright futures. But, amid the excitement in his unique style, it could be easily forgotten that Jos Buttler is only 22. He continues to learn his trade as a batsman - he didn't score a Championship century last year - and a keeper but has the potential to become a special player.

Captain/coach: Marcus Trescothick remains as captain, with Dave Nosworthy, the South African coach who has enjoyed success both at home and in New Zealand, replacing Brian Rose as director of cricket. Andy Hurry remains as head coach.

Cricinfo's verdict: A strong and explosive batting unit and canny bowling attack remains well-suited to the shorter formats, though a nagging worry remains about their Championship prospects: has Somerset's best chance of success passed them by?

Read our supporters' network preview on Somerset. ESPNcricinfo will be publishing a fan blog for each of the 18 counties as we build up to the 2013 season.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 8, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    A few names missed out there alex Barrow etc. But all in all i think this could be a good year for SCC. Yes tehre are old heads there. Not many teams are going to be able to score 400 + (potentiallY and innings and we do look the strongest batting line up. Bowling is weak but then you look at the fire of Kirby and the cannyness of AT and the back can be there. Our kids as such took a huge step last year and each of them suceeded beyond anyone thoughts. With that under there belt the issues of the lime light is forgotten and now consistancy is key.

    With the youth comming in and suprising us all i feel it does give the selectors a problem but also so many diffrent directions as they have been there and now they don't have there backs to the walls we could be going on for glory.

  • Michael on April 7, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    The picture in the article sums up Buttler for me. He has tremendous potential, but seems a bit preoccupied with his novelty shots. Needs Championship runs early to move up the pecking order for England.

  • Dummy4 on April 7, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    I'm not as disheartened as many with our bowling attack this year. It is fundamentally the same as last year with the prospect of it being fit for the whole season. Dibble, a hugely promising player missed most of last year; the Overtons and /Dockrell went to Oz and Alfonso was at the #IPL for the start of the season. Straight away that is an improvement on last year. Yes, Kirby and Alfonso are twinderling forces, but the youth coming through is good and will naturally fill in for them - they will only get better if they play. Potential is not fullfilled playing in the second eleven. Hussain could be key: he showed glimers of his potential last year, most notably against Warwickshire. He needs to string together a few performances like that this year. Remember we done so well last year with only eleven fit players at times: we hopefully will have fully fit team and be challenging on all fronts come September - fingers crossed.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 19:04 GMT

    Shame that Waller the very talented English wrist spinner isn't mentioned yet the Irish spinner Dockrell is!

  • Samuel on April 4, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    @juiceoftheapple - agree about Kieswetter; people judge him based on his poor England form, but his batting has improved hugely over the past 2 seasons in the Championship, to the extent where I don't think he's too far off being considered Prior's deputy in Tests. It helps that many of his competitors are struggling: Davies has gone backwards, Buttler is in no way a Test cricketer yet, Foakes is incredibly raw & Bairstow needs technical work. Craig is a better keeper than Bairstow too. That's not necessarily saying much for the glovework of either of them to be honest but CK's keeping has definitely improved massively from when he first played for England. Basically, I wouldn't be surprised if Kieswetter is on the plane to Australia as back-up to Prior come November.

  • John on April 4, 2013, 14:19 GMT

    "Close , but no cigar" - was a phrase invented for SCC in recent years.

    We could do with the weather gods smiling on us a bit more this year.Despite our absentees (varying reasons) we only lost one CC game last season and that was to champs Warwicks and we reversed that defeat later in the season - both games could have gone either wayOf the many games which were rained off only Middx had the win nailed on. Despite being an amazing bowler I feel VP's workload restrictions cost us somewhat and in the OD tourn we narrowly missed out on qualifying after turning things around when Rehman joined so I hope this year we'll have an overseas player from the off for that comp. We'll miss Nick but hope Hildreth can do what he did in 2010 and part of 2012. We need him and Tres to fire in the CC and would be good if Craig and Jos could show some consistency in CC.Also look forward to see how Craig Overton progresses. Not 100% convinced by the signing of AP but time will tell

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    A very fair and positive write-up. But I will be very much surprised - pleasantly so, of course - if Hussain turns out to be a key player. I doubt he will even make the Championship side unless at least one, probably two, of the other quicks get injured or have a catastrophic loss of form (or the Overton boys get commandeered by the U19s). My choice for 'key player' would be one of Trescothick (too obvious?), Hildreth (due a good season on the three-year cycle he seems to follow) or Kirby, who unlike Hussain has had more than one good Championship season and whose form and fitness, given (as George rightly points out) our thinnish fast-bowling resources, will be crucial to any possibility of a title challenge. I wonder if this will get published, my comments don't usually.

  • Simon on April 4, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    I think Dibble and Overton look like they could do a seriously good job in the CC, and Gregory looks to be a great one day bowler. Definitely good replacements as the old guard approach retirement. Would love to see Meschede / J Overton turn into quality First class players too. Kieswetter is a much underrated batsman due to his pich hitting top order opening for England. There is no way we are letting him go anywhere. We'll wheel Tresco out if we have to (in 10 years time).

  • Mark on April 4, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    Woo! So excited for the new season. I have faith Somerset will win something this year! Blind as it may be.