Fan’s view into 2019: Barry Phillips

  • Who are you, where do you live and how long have you supported Somerset?

My name is Barry Phillips, born Eastleigh Road, Taunton and educated at Huish’s when it was a proper school. I have been watching Somerset for over 60 years and a member for most of these years. My first memory is of watching them play the Australians in 1956. Colin McCool one of my all-time favourites almost got a hundred in each innings (90 & 116) against his compatriots. Peter Burge was my first ever autograph. I left Taunton in 1969 and now live just outside of Oxford. Nowadays I pay my membership (championship only) out of loyalty but do not get value for money out of it (what ever happened to out-county membership?) I wrote the biography of Arthur Wellard (No Mere Slogger) in 1997 and have written a few books on Somerset since. You could say I am a bit obsessive about the club and especially its colourful history!

  • Overall how do you feel Somerset performed in 2018?

Anyone who has followed Somerset for as long as I have learns to live with the disappointments and once more the championship left me with a feeling of what might have been. Against Lancs at Taunton – how did we let Maharaj bowl us out for 77? Just one more run needed! The poor batting at the Ageas against the bowling of Abbott & Steyne with only Marcus putting up a fight in the second innings was also a low point. I was at both matches and left frustrated. Consistency wins the county championship and Somerset have never had it for a long enough spell. I cannot comment on the white-ball game as I rarely watch it live. In fact, the only match I attended was the T20 semis & final where it seemed they bowled too short, to a pre-conceived plan, and were unable to change tactics. Luke Wright should never have been allowed to get anywhere near his 90-odd runs.

Who was your stand-out performer on the field during the season? You can have one for first-class and, if relevant, another for one-day.

Championship – Tom Abell for his fielding, bowling and burgeoning captaincy. He has shown great character coming back from a poor season and I believe there is more to come. His n.o. century to set up the win at Leeds was something special.

One Day – From my limited exposure it has to be Lewis Gregory.

  • What will be your stand-out memory of last season and why?

Not just one memory – every time I watch my favourite player, James Hildreth, bat. Cannot get enough of it.

  • Are you happy with our preparations building up to 2019 (recruitment, preseason, etc.)

Abu Dhabi seems to have gone well but who knows what sort of weather we will get on 5th April which is a ridiculously early start.

  • How do you think we will perform in 2019:
    • Specsavers County Championship

Can Surrey be caught? My head says no but, because I am an eternal optimist, my heart says yes. Surrey, despite England call-ups, will have the depth of squad to cope but the bigger danger may be Warwickshire &/or Kent. If Somerset are to fulfil my boyhood dream of winning the championship they better do it quickly because time is running out for 4-day cricket and it is only going to get harder with the start of the abominable ‘100’ in 2020.

  • Royal London One Day Cup

They cannot do worse!

  • NatWest T20 Blast

Will be booking my ticket early for Edgbaston on the 21st September

  • Who do you expect to be our most important player in 2019?

Lewis Gregory in all forms but it will be interesting to see how Jack Brooks gets on. He was a late developer who played his cricket for the village down the road from me and I know something of him. One thing for sure is that he will give his all to the club. A left-field appointment which may turn out to be inspired.

  • Who is the young player you think can develop into a key player in the new season?

I like the look of George Bartlett. He is improving steadily and 2019 will be something of a make or break season.

  • Are you looking forward to watching Somerset under floodlights?

Not bothered – I probably will not attend. This is very much for the youngsters and the lads and lasses on a boozy night out not for Septuagenarians. You cannot be unimpressed with the lights however. The first thought that came to me on a recent visit home was “how the hell did they get planning permission”!  It wouldn’t have been allowed in Oxford – dreaming spires not dreaming pylons!

  • In general what is your main hope for the 2019 season for Somerset?

My dream of winning the championship is uppermost in my mind.