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And so it all starts with Essex
Posted by: Farmer White
Date: 14/04/2017 08:55
14th April 2017

A new day dawns. A day like no other in the 365. The first day of the season. Or at least of the season proper. Others have skirmished and Surrey have announced themselves as a force to be thought about. But this is the first day of Somerset’s season and that is what really matters. At least to those of us who sport the Wyvern.

The new season’s start, as always reveals something of our personalities. The optimists see another tilt at the Championship. The pessimists worry that the cold water of reality will wash away the joy of the friendly matches; for after all they were only friendly matches and not against the best of opposition. And for most of Somerset’s sojourn in this division the early season reality has been cold indeed. Alistair Cook too it seems is playing. It could only be that his first match since the weight of the England captaincy lifted from his shoulders is against us. It feels sometimes that the cricketing gods take delight in putting obstacles in our way. And yet we are a resilient lot and hope springs eternal as it has sprung, unrequited, for a century and a quarter past.

For all that the optimists hold sway this year. Our batting line up looks transformed by the simple addition of a class batsman who can bat at five and also keep with the invisibility that breeds confidence. Trescothick looked rejuvenated last year and the years rolled back as his cover drive struck the boards as hard and true as it ever did. Hildreth showed the consistency that eluded him for so many years. And in showing it retained all the glory of the genius that only he can show when his planets align. Trego has re-invented himself as a reliable front-line batsman who yet retains the explosive power that can take an innings by the scruff of the neck and turn a game in an hour. And he can take, still, a wicket or two when most needed. Our bowlers, spurned it seemed by the England Lions but embraced by the MCC, reminded Middlesex that they will face a fight if they wish to retain their title. And so they should have been embraced. For last year with ball and sometimes bat they won games that were, it seemed, beyond redemption.

And let us not forget Simon Lee the magician who has found a way of producing pitches at Taunton on which results may proliferate without resort to connivance. Can he cast a spell this year which can shift the balances that have sometimes seemed against us this last 125 years when it has often been harder to win at home than away?

And then finally: Tom Abell the youngest captain in the Championship and by some way. He will need to captain with the precision and determination to force a win, and in so doing sometimes risk a loss, that Chris Rogers showed us last year. He will need to bring to his batting, with its immense promise and classicism, some of the consistency that James Hildreth seems to be finding later in his career. In both cases Abell bears a heavy responsibility and carries the hopes that this County has carried since the century before last. It is for him, and perhaps for all of us, the opportunity of a lifetime to realise a dream of many lifetimes. On whether he feels the weight of responsibility or the glow of opportunity may depend the outcome.

Go to it young man. We are willing you on. One and all.

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