A dose of straight talking in the Somerset dressing room this week has helped the players open up about the batting collapses which cost them their first three LV=County Championship matches and the tour game against New Zealand.
Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said his charges talked about the importance of building partnerships, something they know they need to do as they look to kick-start their season with a visit Trent Bridge tomorrow.
Maynard said: “We had a really good chat after our last game about trying to build partnerships because if we can put that right then we will get the totals on the board that our top-order have been suggesting we should be getting. We have had some good nets and now hopefully the boys will go out at Trent Bridge and perform for us in the way that we know they can.”
Maynard said a lot of the players had been taken aback by what their teammates had to say this week, telling The Bristol Evening Post: “It wasn’t a case of anyone being offended by it – but there was real honesty, which has been well received by the guys.”
Somerset will meet a team on a high after last night’s convincing eight-wicket home win against Birmingham Bears in the NatWest T20 Blast in which Alex Hales hit six straight sixes. However, like their West Country opponents tomorrow, Nottinghamshire have yet to record a County Championship win this season, although they have only lost one game to Somerset’s three.
Marcus Trescothick and Alfonso Thomas come back into a 13-man squad after being rested for the New Zealand tour game along with Lewis Gregory who was away on England duty in Dublin last weekend.
Nottinghamshire will be without Hales for tomorrow’s match, having joined Mumbai Indians for the closing stages of their Indian Premier League campaign.
His absence ends his chances of becoming the first player since Graeme Hick in 1988 to make 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May, a record which Somerset’s James Hildreth will certainly have his eye on.
Hildreth, who has so far enjoyed a rich vein of form which has included three first-class centuries, is under no illusions as to the size of the task that Somerset face.
“This is going to be a tough game,” he said. They are a good side and have got Vernon Philander, one of our old teammates playing for them. Trent Bridge is never an easy place to go and play, especially after the start to the season that we have had. We have lost four out of four so it’s going to be hard going to play a good side away from home. However Notts haven’t enjoyed the best of starts either so it’s a good time to play them.
“We have got to try to rectify some of the mistakes that we have been making in our first four games. We have to get into the nets and get into the gym and work on our games to try and overcome the things that have been going wrong for us.
“If we are honest with ourselves, we have got a lot of improving to do and hopefully the results will come, but we need to see an improvement out on the pitch and start building things up again because we are at the bottom of the table at the moment.”
Talking about his batting so far in 2015, which has seen him score 778 First Class runs Hildreth said: “I have had a pleasing start to the season and will try to keep on doing what I am doing. However I have been in cricket long enough to know that there are ups and downs so you have to try to keep on going through the same processes I have been going through in previous games.
“I am certainly having a bit of a purple patch at the moment so I am trying to ride the wave for as long as possible. It doesn’t happen in cricket that often so when it does you just have to try and keep churning them out and getting as many runs as possible while you are in good form.
Looking ahead to the match, Trescothick said: “We have had a week away from the LV=County Championship and now we are ready to get back on with it. We want to turn our fortunes around pretty quickly and get ourselves back on the road. I thought that we did some good things against New Zealand but we still need to improve and do more. We always have a good contest against Notts so fingers crossed, if we can up our performances then we will give ourselves the opportunity of winning.”
Maynard added: “Notts are a good side and will be hungry to come back after their defeat by Durham. I guess, a little bit like us not all of their guys are at the top of their game at the moment. Alex Hales has been playing fantastically well as is James Taylor and Steven Mullaney at the top of the order and the other guys have showed glimpses but not gone on. Chris Read is a dangerous player and is in great form this year.
“I think it’s going to be a great encounter because both sides are searching for some form and looking for their first win so I expect it to be a tough contest.”
The two top teams in Division One are Durham and Middlesex who both beat Somerset earlier in the season about which Matt said: “We let both of them back into the game and it’s not surprising they are up there given the style of cricket they play. They both seized their opportunities against us and we didn’t so that’s an area we need to look at. Ours is effectively a 13 game campaign and that is how we have got to look at it.”
Maynard added: “We have got a strong squad of 13 going to Trent Bridge to give us a range of options depending on the surface we see in front of us.”
Meanwhile, Tim Groenewald, who claimed career-best figures of 9-136 in the tour game against New Zealand, is in confident mood. He said: “I have felt good about my bowling since the start of the season, so it was great to get my rewards in the game against New Zealand. It’s great to put in a good performance for your new county and I’m sure that this has done my confidence a great deal of good going forward.”
The Somerset squad for the Nottinghamshire game is: MarcusTrescothick (captain), Tom Abell, Jim Allenby, Alex Barrow, Tom Cooper, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Johann Myburgh, Craig Overton, Abdur Rehman, Alfonso Thomas and Peter Trego.
Weather forecast: Sadly the weather may end up being the winner over the next four days. Cloudy conditions are forecast on day one with sunshine and showers on days two, three and four.