- Who are you, where do you live and how long have you supported Somerset?
Stephen Hubbard. I live in Berkhamsted, Herts.
My interest in cricket, which meant Somerset, started in about 1966. I watched Colin Atkinson’s team during my school holidays; my mother clearly content that the County Ground was a place where I would be safe, absorbed and could get into no mischief. I remember I had a leaflet containing details of the West Indian touring team, so that may be one of the games I saw.
- Overall how do you feel Somerset performed in 2018?
I think second place in the County Championship and a finals day appearance is a good result. Obviously, there is room for improvement but not a great deal, it is down to fine margins.
- Who was your stand-out performer on the field during the season?
Championship – Matt Renshaw because, at short notice, he arrived and performed exactly as one wishes a guest player to do.
One Day – Max Waller’s economical bowling has to be highly commended.
- What will be your stand-out memory of last season and why?
The most memorable moments were the two extraordinary catches taken on the long on (?) boundary by Jamie Overton.
Sadly the huge defeat at Guildford sticks in my mind, followed by the Chelmsford road (Essex ought to be ashamed of that lifeless pitch). These two matches did for our Championship ambitions.
- Are you happy with our preparations building up to 2019 (recruitment, preseason, etc.)
It is hard to comment upon the pre-season, whether the work done here worked will only be revealed when the serious matches start.
In terms of recruitment, I do like the approach of having an overseas player who is part of the team for the whole season. I understand the value to the team spirit of a guest who becomes wholly part of the club, so support the signing of Azhar Ali and hope he makes a pile of runs for us.
Recruiting Jack Brooks came as a surprise. I have every confidence in him as a player but did not think there was a gap amongst our contingent of quick bowlers.
- How do you think we will perform in 2019:
- Specsavers County Championship (can Surrey be caught?)
I am always hugely optimistic just before the start of a season. Of course Surrey can be caught, if not this season then next.
- Royal London One Day Cup
- NatWest T20 Blast
I will bundle these together, as in white ball cricket matches can turn very quickly and the limited form tends to reduce the differences between teams. Reaching the final of either of the two has to be defined as success.
- Who do you expect to be our most important player in 2019?
I think it has to be a batsman. We need several to score over 1,000 championship runs and one to reach 1,500. Then we really will have had a season to remember.
- Who is the young player you think can develop into a key player in the new season?
There are several emerging players who have shown that they can secure a permanent place in the first XI. In Championship matches, I think George Bartlett or Eddie Byrom will establish their place at the top of the batting order.
In white ball cricket, the two who have shown the necessary style are Ben Green and Tom Banton and there is probably scope for both to be significant players.
Of course, for any of these young guns to become key players (our Ollie Pope or Pat Brown if you like), it means displacing one or more of the established members of the first team! It also depends upon an injury-free season.
- Are you looking forward to watching Somerset under floodlights?
I think the excitement is for the club rather than the team. If there is scope for more cricket, more visits from broadcasters and more non-cricket events then floodlighting will be a step forward. There is a sadness that the pretty ground now has huge towers but I hope they prove to be a brilliant investment for the club. The idyll of an innocent rural golden age is an illusion but a persistent one.
- In general what is your main hope for the 2019 season for Somerset?
Principally, that we win one of the competitions. Top of the list is the Championship. I think we have a well balanced team, although perhaps lacking a single, stand-out performer who will drag great performances from good players. Historically, Somerset tend towards the mercurial, balancing a brilliant performance by a miserable one, can we achieve a consistently high level of performance.