When Chris Rogers left Somerset at the end of the 2016 season he left a gap in two departments; not only did the club lose a high-quality top order batsman but a skipper who has successfully led his team to within a whisker of winning a first ever County Championship.
Somerset are due to announce Rogers’s overseas replacement for the 2017 season in the next few days and the player in question is like-for-like; a top order batsman of international quality, but this player will not come in as captain.
So as 2016 draws to a close supporters have been questioning who will captain Somerset in 2017.
Well there is a very real possibility that Somerset will have three on field captains in 2017. If the club are to appoint a new County Championship captain from within then who do we feel would be the candidates?
James Hildreth is highly rated throughout the game and particularly at the Cooper Associates County Ground by Matt Maynard, his fellow players and the cub’s supporters but it appears Hildy is not keen on taking on the captaincy. So for me that leaves one other candidate and that is Tom Abell.
Tabes is as equally highly-rated and has made great strides in the game in the last few seasons. Of course there is a very real possibility that young Tom will be called up for England sometime in the future but, with the arrival on the international scene of the likes of Haseem Habeeb and Keaton Jennings, much will depend on how others fare before Tom can be considered for international duty. And Somerset cannot plan on what maybe.
I am not alone in this thinking. A few seasons ago former Somerset fast bowler Steffan Jones named Abell as a future Somerset captain when the player was still a teenager. And anyone who has played with Tom at club or county level will tell you he is a very intelligent and level Headed young man who reads the game very well.
With the likes of Marcus Trescothick, Peter Trego and James Hildreth alongside him to advise and mentor him I believe Tom can develop into a captain who can lead Somerset successfully for many years to come. He would be my choice.
As for the 50 over tournament there is only one candidate. Jim Allenby did a sterling job leading Somerset in the Royal London One Day Cup in 2016, taking the club to a semi-final encounter against Warwickshire at Edgbaston. And it was in this tournament under Allenby’s leadership that’s Somerset young stars started to find their feet playing with a little bit of determination and fight which offered momentum for rest of the season. If it is not broken then don’t fix it and I would be amazed if Jim was not skipper in this format in 2017.
Allenby also captained in the T20 tournament but you would be hard pressed to say that the club has performed well in this tournament in the last two seasons, not that this reflects on Jim personally. Maynard knows he has to think hard about how his team will prepare for the short format next season and some new thinking is needed. This is the format that I feel Somerset are most likely to appoint a captain from outside the club.
This particular competition will be a shorter format in 2017 with games starting on 7th July and the qualifying games wrapped up 6 weeks later on 18th August, so there is every possibility a big name overseas skipper can be enticed for the whole campaign. Somerset start their campaign at Surrey on 9th July.
I do not feel there is a genuine T20 captain within the clubs playing ranks so it’ll be interesting to see what Maynard thinks and how he will approach this competition. I guess we will have to wait and see!