Today saw the opening of the New Pavilion at the County Ground and The Incider were there to witness this magnificent new facility. Whilst there Steve Jennings bumped into Matt Maynard and they spoke for 10 minutes about a few of the talking points among supporters.
10 minutes with Matt Maynard on…..
…the 2015 County Championship season
A little frustrating I guess. I think in the championship we fought really well towards the back end when the pressure was on. I think the guys took a little more responsibility. Hildy apart I think there were times during the season where there were some decent knocks but they didn’t go on to make those match winning contributions. But I think we got that towards the back of the season. So that was very pleasing.
I think the body language improved throughout the course of the year. I think that was important. The best exponents of that are Australia – they never show when they are beaten – and in domestic cricket it’s Yorkshire.
So you have that strong body language and you keep going at the opposition which we did at the end. So there were some very pleasing aspects of the County Championship.
Take the Sussex game down there where we only lost four wickets to deny them two bowling points, we really put a price on our wickets and maybe we hadn’t done that quite as much during the early part of the summer.
I thought Craig Overton had a superb year. Jamie Overton bowled some tidy spells – they both feed off each other when they play alongside each other. It was good to see Jack Leach come in at the end from a bowling point of view. Also Timmy Groenewald had a good first class year. Lewis Gregory had three five-fers early on and put us in some good positions but unfortunately we couldn’t finish those off.
..the Durham game where Somerset effectively lost a winning cause in one session
That was one of the few occasions that I got angry with the lads in the changing room afterwards. The way we went about it and the way we disappeared during the game. But after that Durham game, to be fair the guys responded fantastically well. And that was very pleasing for me.
…T20 cricket in 2015
That was most frustrating for me, we always played our strongest side. We made some really good signings like Sohail Tanvir and obviously Chris Gayle and Jim Allenby, but as a unit we didn’t perform very well. I know we had some tight finishes – I think four of our first five games went to the last ball? – but in truth we were further away than that. I reflect very honestly and slightly harshly at times, and I can see there is definitely room for improvement as we didn’t play to our potential in Twenty20 cricket last year and I want to create the environment where they always play to that potential. That’s not easy. We were set up very well on paper but you don’t win matches on paper and our performances weren’t good enough. So that was the most frustrating part of the season for me.
Chris will come in at 3. That was part of our discussions and I spoke at length with Chris about this and how I saw him fitting in. He was asking questions as to how he would fit in and was very impressed with the youngsters. He is a very good team man and will help develop those youngsters – the batters and the bowlers. We don’t want to slow down Tom Abell’s development – he came in last year and opened the batting all season after playing only something like three first class matches and his partnership with Marcus worked very well. I’m not one of those guys that see something that works and say let’s change it and just put Marcus at 4 and Tom at 5. Things are working and Marcus has retained his enthusiasm, he still loves the game and still loves playing. It’s a lovely partnership – the youth of Tom and experience of Marcus adds that element of vitality.
So to have Rogers coming in at 3 and Hildy at 4 makes a very strong top 4.
..Roleof van der Merwe
He will play in the Championship. He is batting very well. I think early season with the ground works and irrigation system we have had installed at the County Ground we probably won’t start here so will have the first two rounds of games away so, if that ends up Notts away and Yorkshire away we probably won’t play a spinner so he will offer a little variety.
..the prospect of more signings
If the right players come along. It would be nice to supplement our white ball squad a little bit. Obviously we let Alfonso go so if someone could come into that position it would be great but not just for the sake of it. I would look to someone who can come in, help develop the other players and perform to a good level themselves.
We are after high quality players again. Last year we had Chris Gayle and that is the quality we are looking for. I am currently talking to four different players agents at this moment.
That’s a tough one. We can’t guarantee him a start and he wants to play cricket week in, week out. Pete Trego finished really well last year, Lewis Gregory had a good season so he will have to fight for his place here. He is guaranteed a place at Glamorgan so in reality he will probably want to go there.
He is keen to play as much cricket as possible so it is up to him whether he wants to fight for his place here or whether he takes the easier route and plays at Glamorgan. It is difficult for him as he obviously loves Somerset – this is his club – he is torn between the two and I doubt anything will happen (with him) before Christmas.
…the youngsters in the Academy
There are very exciting talents coming through. Liam Redrup and Ollie Sale are two promising guys who have just signed a contract now. Ollie is still at University up in Newcastle but Liam’s on the MCC tour in Nepal but he will be back in preseason and will spend a lot of time with the first team. He’s quite an exciting bowler and good character as well. In one game last year at Taunton Vale which I was at he went off with a broken finger but was straight back out and carried on bowling. I like that. He’s a tough character.
It’s an exciting group. Eddie Byron is a good young batsman, big Joe Gore is a good young quickie, there’s Tom Lammonby – yeah, there’s some really good talent coming through.
I know we have lost some experience over the past few years – Craig Kieswetter, Nick Compton, Alviro Petersen from a batting side of things and Alfonso in the bowling. I just feel that this team looks like there is more competition in it for every place. Look at Johan Myburgh who will be pushing, Adam Hose. Whereas last year the top six picked itself with no-one really pushing to get in and I don’t think that’s a healthy scenario but now we have a more balanced squad.
Someone once said you’ll never win anything with kids, well you can. Just because they are young doesn’t mean they can’t be successful so I am very encouraged by that. I think we will be dynamic in the field – like the older days of Somerset when they were tigerish in the field – and that is what we missed at times last year because of the ageing squad. The vitality of these youngsters is so exciting.
If we can supplement that with some quality signings for the T20 then we’ll do well I think.
..the Taunton crowd and playing at Taunton
It’s an old cliché but the crowd here really are the 12th man. It’s daunting for the opposition but it lifts our players. This is still a ground to be incredibly proud of. It’s not a stadium, it still has that old county ground feel still, it’s still a cricket ground and that’s the beauty of it. To host international cricket here in 2017 and then the World Cup in 2019 is very exciting and I think the new pavilion finishes off the ground beautifully.