Exclusive: Somerset fans divided over signing KP for 2015

KP YorNSomerset fans are split over whether signing the controversial former England batsman Kevin Pietersen would be a good move for the club.

In an exclusive survey for The Incider, a sizeable 45.13% of people said they did not want to see the mercurial batsmen at Taunton any under circumstances.

However 31.86% of you would like to see Pietersen play for Somerset in all formats of the game in 2015, while a further 23.01% wants the club to sign KP for the NatWest T20 campaign only.

Rumours have been rife for the past few months that Pietersen could be on his way to Taunton, although Director of Cricket Matt Maynard has attempted to play down the chances of such a move happening due to the player’s existing links with Surrey. However there has been media speculation since, that a new ECB salary cap could put an end to the south London club’s hopes of Pietersen rejoining them for 2015. Finally, The Guardian reported last week that Surrey have decided not to re-sign him.

Pietersen would be a controversial signing for many reasons, not least his recent pronouncements on the English T20 system and branding young English players “muppets”. Our survey shows that he would certainly divide opinion if he decided to move west this year. However he remains a special talent, who recognises that he needs to play more than weekly T20 cricket if he is to sustain consistent form in an English season

Our survey also asked you whether you felt Maynard already had the right squad to challenge for silverware in 2015 or whether you felt he needed to bring in extra manpower, given the departures of Nick Compton and Alviro Petersen, among others, and the long-term injury to Craig Kieswetter.

Of the 113 people who completed the survey, only two thought that Somerset already had a sufficiently strong balance of youth and experience, with the overwhelming majority calling for additional signings.

There is considerable concern about the current strength in depth of Somerset’s batting. Some 73.45% of people believe that the club urgently needs an additional top-order batsman. “We need a quality top-order batsman,” said one.

There is also strong support, from 46.9% of you, for signing an additional opener to partner Marcus Trescothick.

KP2With Kieswetter expected to miss the whole of the 2015 season, 35.4% of respondents called on Somerset to invest in an additional wicket-keeper, despite the presence of Alex Barrow and James Regan at the club. One person stated that any keeper must be experienced at county level, although Barrow did have a decent run in the side last summer and acquitted himself well.

There is little demand for an additional all-rounder or spinner, but 24.78% of all those who completed the survey think Somerset needs to sign another pace bowler for 2015. It’s possible this response may have been influenced by recent injuries to Craig Overton and Alfonso Thomas as well as Steve Kirby’s retirement and Craig Meschede’s move on loan to Glamorgan.

So who should Somerset sign this year? We threw the floor open to you to suggest your ideas and hopes for new recruits – and returns – to the Taunton dressing room.

Many of you are in agreement that Somerset need a world-class T20 player for 2015, with one person pointing out that Yorkshire have just clinched a deal to bring Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell to Headingley.

Unsurprisingly, Chris Gayle’s name came up several times. The explosive West Indian opener was on the verge of joining the club a couple of years ago before his return to international cricket put paid to a move to the West Country. Gayle has since said that Taunton have ‘first refusal’ if he ever decides to play T20 cricket again in England.

Four players who have impressed for Somerset in previous stints at the County Ground, Kieron Pollard, Cameron White, Dean Elgar and Roelof van der Merwe, were also suggested by several people.

The name of AB deVilliers, the prolific South African was put forward by many. AB would certainly have been a tremendous asset in the shortest form of the game this year. Unfortunately it appears that Maynard has already made approaches and the player’s existing commitments mean a stint in England is not possible.

Other exiting international batsmen-keepers whose names were put forward include New Zealand’s Brendan McCullum, South Africa’s Heino Kuhn and India’s MS Dhoni.

The names of two English county players who have been continuously linked with possible moves to Taunton on social media, Rory Hamilton-Brown and David Willey also cropped up several times in your responses.

Another name that came up more than once was Tom Cooper, an Australian middle-order batsman, who because of his Dutch mother has played one-day internationals for the Netherlands. One person proposed that we turn to former Somerset captain and Australian Test legend Justin Langer for advice as to which batsman to sign.

Of those who think Somerset need to bolster their wicket-keeping resources, a few people suggested the club sign Michael Bates, who was released by Hampshire at the end of last season. One person called for the club to sign Kent’s explosive Sam Billings who destroyed Somerset at Taunton in the Royal London One-Day Cup competition last summer, while one person suggested James Regan should start as Somerset’s first choice keeper for 2015. There was also an appeal for the return of Jos Buttler to the West Country.

A wide range of other names were put forward by just one person, ranging from Jonathan Trott to Younis Khan, from Jacques Kallis to a return to Taunton by Wes Durston.

  • The club hope to make announcements about new signings in the next few weeks. Chairman Andy Nash tweeted last week after the AGM that they are still sorting paperwork at the moment.

UPDATE: Since this article was published, Pietersen has signed to play in the Caribbean Premier League this summer. With his existing IPL commitments, that would only leave a narrow window in which to play a small number of T20 games in England, should he decide to sign a short-term contract with a county.