The signing of Tim Groenewald from Derbyshire has been loudly applauded by Somerset supporters on Twitter and social media and, for me, shows real intent that the club will make a grand push in the second half of the LV=CC campaign.
In many ways it would have been easy for Somerset to have avoided adding another wage to the club’s financial commitments at a time when the fund raisers at Taunton are focusing their efforts on gaining the revenue needed to build the new pavilion which, it is hoped, will attract international Cricket to the south west. This would always be the short-term priority for longer term wealth.
And, with the club sitting comfortably in third place in the championship table with a game in hand over their rivals, there was little expectation from many members of the clubs army of fans to make a signing at this stage of the season. Somerset has a large squad with many talented youngsters pushing to take their place in the team so a well worded quote of “we have faith in the current squad” may have been offered by the team’s management if under any pressure to make signings and ultimately accepted by the vast majority of fans.
Nosworthy may have looked at the average age of his bowling team and thought some experience would be vital as the club enter the second half of the season, especially considering Steve Kirby is currently working his way back to fitness leaving the evergreen Alfonso Thomas to lead the attack game after game. Fitness will play a large part of the team’s preparations and Nos will need to tinker to keep players fresh and ready for action.
So it is well done to Somerset for this signing as Groenewald is a player of immense talent who will thrive playing in front of large crowds at Taunton. The 30-year-old former Warwickshire man played 72 first-class matches for Derbyshire, taking 229 wickets at an average of 29 also snaring 103 scalps in the limited-overs formats.
And let’s hope his switch from Derby to Taunton is as successful as others who took the same journey. In 1990 Somerset signed Andy Hayhurst from Derbyshire at a time when the cider county were battling back from the so-called glory years and he had six successful season at Taunton, captaining the side in two of them.
In 1995 Plymouth born Peter Bowler, ironically an opening bat, made his way back to his native south west and was the club’s leading run scorer for a few of those seasons before he retired in 2004.
In 2000 Ian Blackwell headed south after falling out with Dominic Cork at Derbyshire and enjoyed a fabulous time as he developed into a hard hitting batsman and useful enough spinner to gain international honours for England. As a point of interest Hayhurst returned to Derbyshire and coached the side before he left after he too fell out with Cork just after he had appointed him captain.
Steffan Jones started his career at Somerset before heading off to Northants and Derby when Brian Rose signed him for a second spell at Taunton. He played an integral part in Somerset’s successful Division 2 championship triumph in 2007. He later went back to the County Ground in Derby to finish his career.
Some have headed the other way to Derbyshire. Current bowling coach Jason Kerr went to Derby in 2002, Mark Turner followed in 2005 and Wes Durston was released by Somerset in 2009 and signed for Derby after impressing for the Unicorns in 2010.
The player who had most success leaving Somerset for Derbyshire was wicket-keeper Luke Sutton who left in frustration as he was unable to oust first choice keeper Rob Turner. He went on to captain Derbyshire and Lancashire playing alongside Dominic Cork for both clubs although there is no evidence he left either club after falling out with him. But you never know!
So welcome to the south west Tim Groenewald and we all look forward to seeing you in Somerset colours taking many wickets in what we hope will be a successful period for the club.