In an exclusive interview with The Incider, Taunton Cricket Club vice-captain Ben Orr shares his thoughts on a memorable season for his club, which saw them earn promotion and the emergence of Tom Abell as a first-class cricketer.
By Ben Orr
Clearly the promotion is a massive deal for the club, particularly when you consider the turnaround from the end of last season where we retained our place in the Bristol and Somerset division on a reprieve!
To then only lose two games in a season and record as many victories this season as we have in the past four seasons it really is a staggering turnaround.
The manner in which we went unbeaten for the entire season at home and winning every game in the second half of the season is particularly satisfying.
The brand of cricket we’ve played at home this season has been very aggressive. We’ve had the confidence that has been lacking in recent season to go out and attack with the ball knowing that our batting line up has the depth to chase or set totals well over 250 at the Vale. This attitude change can be attributed to Jack’s (Cooper) appointment as captain. Jacko has been a big advocate of playing brave cricket this season and the results have been obvious.
Clearly we’ve been very fortunate to have a player of the sheer class of Tom Abell! Tom means a massive amount to this club having played his first game for TCC aged 8! So to have seen him go on to make his hugely deserved Championship debut just adds to the massive amount of pride surging round the club these past few weeks.
Putting aside Tom’s performances for the county 2nd XI which have been phenomenal – an unbeaten 200 at that standard is huge in itself – he has been truly special for us this season. An average of 128, three hundreds and being the league’s leading run scorer with only 10 or 11 innings is staggering for a man who turned 20 this year and was competing against former international stars like Ian Harvey in our division this year.
Tom has also stepped up this season by supporting Jack and myself from a leadership and tactical perspective, passing on his obvious gift for captaincy! I can go on and on about Tom but the reality is we’ve also been successful without Tom this season, winning big games away at Bedminster & Old Bristolians without him. This bodes well for us going forward as we are clearly going to see less and less of Tom as he blossoms in the Somerset 1st team!
It also needs highlighting that we’ve been far from a one man team! A new recruit at the start of this season Graham Fitt has ended the summer as the 1st team’s leading wicket taker! He’s fitted in very well to the spin trio that has developed in the 1st team and made a very useful habit of picking up wickets in the middle overs!
The skipper has stood up with bat and ball this season, making a habit of scoring big scores when Tom has been unavailable or on the rare occasion he has missed out! Long may this continue. Special mention must go to our overseas player this season, Chris Davenport, who has averaged 60+ and only just come behind Tom in the run scoring stakes. Chris has fitted in really nicely to the team environment and his contributions are particularly impressive for someone aged just 19. Fingers crossed we can tempt Chris back next summer!
One man who needs a huge thank you is our groundsman and attacking 1st team allrounder Rob Hake! Rob has come back into the side after a couple of seasons off and has done a super job injecting momentum at the end of several big totals at Taunton. His work on the pitch is only part of the package as his work preparing it and the surrounds is heroic. We are the envy of every visiting team and the quality of the playing surface is now also a weapon in our armoury with the confidence streaming through the club.