Thomas Benjamin Abell
March 05, 1994, Taunton, Somerset
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
Tom Abell had a demanding, and sometimes traumatic, blooding as Somerset's Championship captain when he was awarded the role for the 2017 season. He was 23 when the season began, putting him among the youngest county captains, such as Kim Barnett and Rory Hamilton-Brown, who were both 22 when they took charge of Derbyshire and Surrey respectively, but by the end of the season must have felt twice that age.
By early July, things had turned sour. Abell was dropped to find batting form in the 2nd XI after a pair at Southampton meant his lack of runs could no longer be overlooked. His coach Matthew Maynard remained insistent that he was "a genuine leader of men", but Somerset were 29 points adrift of safety with half the season gone. What followed was remarkable: Somerset escaped relegation on the final day with Abell at the helm once more, his batting average stabilised at 26, and his ambitions restored.
Abell's ability not only to survive that grounding but to prosper the following summer suggested that there he possessed more steel than his polite style might convey. He scored his first hundred as Somerset captain, Yorkshire the victims, as he averaged 40 in the Championship and broadened his range, too, in limited-overs formats. His medium-pace outswingers came on a bundle, too, and the sense that the game was running his way came with a hat-trick of Nottinghamshire tail-enders in a late-season affair at Trent Bridge.
Abell is the latest and perhaps most exciting of Somerset's talented locally-developed players, a methodical opening batsman whose technique and temperament suggests the potential to enjoy a distinguished career in the game.
A product of Taunton School, he was named Young Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year for 2013 after a 2012 season in which he amassed 1,156 runs at an average of 193. He made seven hundreds in 11 innings and passed 50 every time. He also won the Cricket Society's Wetherell Award for best all-rounder in schools cricket in 2012.
He continued to score heavily when promoted to the Somerset Second XI - he was Somerset's second XI player of the season in 2013 - so it was not a huge surprise when, aged just 20 and with more than a touch of the schoolboy still about his build and fresh face, he made an accomplished 95 in his maiden first-class innings (against Warwickshire). Had he scored five more in that first innings, he would have become the first Somerset-born player to register a century on their Championship debut since Harold Gimblett in 1935. One of the umpires, Steve O'Shaughnessy, rated it the finest first-class debut innings he had ever seen.
Only playing due to the unavailability of more senior players such as Craig Kieswetter, Alviro Petersen and Chris Jones, he top-scored for Somerset and contributed two more half-centuries in his next three Championship matches. Further progress followed in 2015 with a maiden Championship hundred against Hampshire during which an opening stand of 272 with Marcus Trescothick felt to Somerset supporters like the official connection of two generations.
Abell, who by then was studying for a degree in French and sports science at Exeter University, eschewed a year abroad to commit instead to more fluency in his cricket career. "Cricket is not played much in France so it probably wasn't the ideal subject to choose," he said ruefully. After a productive close season with Fremantle in Western Australia, his hopes for 2016 were high, but two Championship hundreds apart - including a career-best 135 against Lancashire - he struggled to meet expectations. A century against Sussex at Taunton, though, in the Royal London Cup, and a debut in the NatWest T20 Blast, told of a player also gaining ground in the limited-overs formats.
Batting & Fielding
Debut/Last Matches - Player
Recent Matches - Player
News and Features