There was some bright news emanating from a rather soggy and otherwise dull Cooper Associates County Ground on day one of the last game of 2019, and that was that three Somerset lads will be representing England in New Zealand before the end of the year.
Firstly Jack Leach has deservedly retained his place in the Test team having been named in a 15-man squad for a two-match Test series against the Black Caps, starting 21st November. There are first call-ups for Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley to play in these games that do not form part of the ICC World Test Championship. With Jonny Bairstow dropped the glove duties will be handed to Somerset old boy Jos Buttler.
It has been an eventful year for Jack in an England shirt. With bat in hand he has shown star qualities as an opener, having hit 92 against Ireland at Lords in July. Then, batting at number eleven, he played no small part in the last-wicket stand of 76 with Ben Stokes at Headingley in August to level the Ashes series. His knock being described as the greatest ever 1 not out!
Nobody can begrudge Jack his place in the team. Look at his short career and he has had to work extra hard to overcome some bad luck and adversity and deserves every bit of the success he is enjoying. And he does what he does with a smile on his face too.
There was good news for Lewis Gregory and Tom Banton too, with both being named in a 15-man squad for the five-match IT20 series starting 1st November which will be captained by Eoin Morgan. Lewis was unlucky not to play for England earlier this year having been named in the Test squad against Ireland but missed out. He has been tipped to play for England’s one day teams for a while now, having had a fantastic T20 campaign in 2018, where he skippered Somerset to Finals Day, but he had some injury issues in 2019. I hope he finally gets the chance to showcase his talent.
It is little surprise to see Tom included. His 549 runs in 2019’s Vitality Blast were bettered only by his team-mate and opening partner at Somerset, Babar Azam, and he has thrilled crowds with his vast array of clever if outrageous shots. Anyone writing about his batting have had to learn a whole new batch of superlatives such is his precocious talent.
The young man was clearly delighted to get the call, saying via Twitter that it was “a dream come true” whilst thanking “everyone who has helped me along the journey.”
We wish them all well wearing the three lions.
The inclusion of Jack, Tom and Lewis in these squads is further proof of the fantastic work being done at Taunton developing quality young players. Additionally Craig Overton played in the recent Ashes series and applied himself well, while Dom Bess played two Tests against Pakistan last May.
And, from what I am told, there are plenty more promising young players in the academy too. The future for Somerset is most definitely bright.