Sometimes it is easy to forget that James Hildreth will only turn 32 in the next fortnight. That is not because the boyish good looks are on the fade or the flow of runs are diminishing but one could be forgiven for thinking he was older because he has seemingly been around the County Ground for decades now!
It was actually in late July 2003 that Hildy made his Somerset bow in a rain affected one day game at Old Trafford. Since then he has played well over 500 games for Somerset and been a firm favourite with fans throughout.
It was in 2004 that Hildreth started to play regularly for the 1st XI and scored the first of his 36 first class centuries against Durham in the opening Championship game of that season hitting 101. His century count is the fourth highest in the list of most centuries for Somerset and only 11 behind Viv Richards in third. Marcus Trescothick and Harold Gimblett lead the way with 49 each.
Hildy’s 13,651 first class runs for Somerset is the 13th best and he will move into 12th ahead of Lionel Palairet when he scores another 200 runs, which is likely to be this season.
With many more seasons ahead of him it is likely that Hildreth will be breaking more records before he calls time on his career.
Born in Milton Keynes, Hildreth attended Millfield School and started playing for the county’s 2nd XI in 2002.
This week Somerset announced that Hildy will enjoy a well-deserved Benefit Year in 2017.
“I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded a benefit. This Club has been such a big part of my life for so long and I feel privileged to have been involved with Somerset for so many years. I was still a teenager when I made my debut and so many things have happened in the last thirteen years. Since I played that first game back in 2003 the time has just flown by. The game has changed a lot in that time and I can’t believe that I’m one of the old boys now!
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone connected with the Club who has helped me over the years to get to where I am today. Their support has been absolutely vital in helping me to achieve my goal of becoming a professional cricketer. “
Hildy also found time to praise the Somerset supporters, saying: “I would also like to thank the Somerset Members and fans who are the best in the business. They turn out in their thousands every week and support the Club through thick and thin. They are without a doubt the most passionate supporters on the circuit.”
As well as being a fabulous Cricketer I have had the pleasure of meeting James socially on several occasions and have interviewed him for The Incider and other publications a few times now and he is always a perfect gentleman. A class on and off the field. I am sure James will enjoy great support from the Club and the fans in 2017.
He deserves to!