Somerset look to Maynard to push for silverware
By Adam Matravers
When South African Dave Nosworthy was appointed as Director of Cricket at Somerset in late 2012 hopes were high. The Cidermen had come close on several occasions to winning a trophy in the preceding 5 years and Nosworthy inherited a strong group that the club hoped would be able to shed the “nearly men” tag which had characterised Somerset cricket.
Fast forward 2 years and after a disappointing first season for Nosworthy, which saw the county fight a desperate battle to retain their Division One status in the County Championship the three year contract he signed was ended a year early by “mutual agreement”. Despite a better set of Championship performances this summer the squad were no nearer achieving silverware for the first time since 2005 and the club have acted amid rumours of players unhappy and unsettled by the South African’s management.
So at the end of the 2014 season the Board appointed Matthew Maynard as their new Director of Cricket for the upcoming 2015 season.
Unlike Football for example, where a manager has transfer funds and a greater opportunity to reshape a squad of players, a cricket coach has to work predominately with the group of players at his disposal. Player movement between clubs is less prevalent than in other sports. In view of this expecting a new coach or Director of Cricket to come into Taunton and make wholesale changes is akin to expecting a magic wand to be waved. From a far it would appear some careful tweaking and fine tuning is required not a mass clear out or recruitment drive.
Firstly Somerset are run as one of the most profitable cricket counties in the first class game and have a ground undergoing major redevelopment to provide future opportunity to host international cricket. More importantly on the field the club boast some established seasoned professionals such as former England batsman Marcus Trescothick and leading international T20 bowler Alfonso Thomas. Together with the number of core, experienced players are a number of young players just beginning to flourish on the county scene such as Devon born twins Craig and Jamie Overton and all rounder Lewis Gregory.
Clearly the basis is there for a successful team.
With pitches at Taunton renound for being batsman friendly the age old problem of bowling sides out twice has been a hurdle which has led to a plethora of drawn matches, Somerset drew 10 of their 16 Championship matches last season. Turning those draws into wins has been identified by Maynard already as the club have made the decision to recruit Pakistan spin bowler Abdur Rehman as overseas player for 2015. The Pakistani twirler had a successful spell with the county at the back end of the 2012 season and will be returning to familiar ground. This is a positive move by Maynard and should provide Somerset with a better opportunity to bowl teams out on flat Taunton wickets.
With the promise of the young seam bowlers beginning to bear fruit in 2014 the bowling department seems well covered although the youngsters must continue to develop to support the ageing legs of Thomas and Peter Trego.
The batting, on paper looks strong although last season a number of players struggled at times for consistency. Any county would be glad to name a batting line up of Trescothick, Nick Compton, James Hildreth and Craig Kieswetter. However more will be required from the likes of Johann Myburgh and Alex Barrow. The emergence at the tail end of last season of Taunton born Tom Abell bodes well and with Chris Jones retiring from the first class game he may well gets plenty of opportunity to cement his undoubted promise.
With Maynard dispensing with the services of batting coach Dave Houghton with the intention of taking on that role himself and an overseas player recruited already changes have begun at the County Ground which the supporters will hope can push Somerset nearer to the holy grail, a maiden County Championship title.