Young all-rounder Lewis Gregory has been voted the Player of the Month for July by The Incider readers despite being injured for part of the month and unavailable for selection in three NatWest T20 Blast games. Lewis picked up 78% of the votes with the remainder shared out between Alfonso, Tres, Cove and Compo.
This is Lewis’s second player of the month award as he was the inaugural winner in April. The monthly awards are supported by Somerset County Sports.
Despite not being 100% fit Lewis put in some memorable performances across the formats.
In the LV= County Championship Lewis had a modest game in the drawn encounter with Middlesex at Uxbridge, taking one wicket and scoring just five runs in the whole game. But in the next game Lewis put in a man of the match performance taking 11 wickets with the ball and scoring 50 runs with the bat as Northamptonshire were put to the sword in Northampton with Somerset winning by 52 runs.
Somerset batted first and scored 375 with Tres leading the team brilliantly scoring 124, supported by Tregs’ excellent 77. Lewis scored 10.
The home team were then put under the cosh by Lewis who took five wickets to reduce them to 160 for 8 in reply. Northants had a late rally with Rossington and Willey putting bat to ball but when Lewis picked up the wicket of Stone he had taken 6 wickets in an innings for the first time and finished with 6 for 47 as Northampton were bundled away for 221.
Lewis then scored 40 in Somerset’s second innings, hitting 6×4’s and 1×6 in the process. Tres declared on 249 for 8 to set Northants an unlikely 404 to win. In fairness they gave it a good go scoring 351 and falling just 52 runs short. Lewis took 5 for 75 to finish with match figures of 11 for 122.
Lewis only featured in the last two T20 games – a heavy defeat against Kent and a convincing win against Middlesex which brought a close to Somerset’s interest in the competition.
But it was in the first game of the London Bank One Day Cup that Lewis shone. He took 1 for 66 as Durham set an imposing 311 in their 50 overs. Somerset were struggling in reply at 21 for 3 with Tres, Compo and Tregs back in the hutch. Ingram joined Hildy and took the score past three figures but he was fourth man out when the score was 103 and Baz followed quickly 3 runs later and Somerset were 106 for 5 and a win looking highly unlikely.
But Hildreth hit 146 and Gregory a career-best 105, his first century, in a one-day county record sixth-wicket stand of 209 to ease Somerset home on 315-5 with 20 balls left. It was an amazing end to an amazing game.
Lewis played in the other two LBODC games in July, taking 3 for 54 in the tied game with Notts and scoring 35 in a close defeat by 2 runs (D/L Method) against Kent.
Lewis was presented his bottle of champagne by James Brice of Somerset County Sports on Friday 29th August and afterwards spoke with Steve about his efforts in July and hopes for the game against Northants which was due to start two days later.
So we meet again, Lewis?
It has been an amazing season for Lewis personally and seems to get better and better?
“It has been a relatively decent year for me. At the start of the year I was hoping to play a few games for Somerset and put in a couple of performances so what has happened has been more than what I wished for at the start.”
This is Devon boy Lewis’s second player of the month award from The Incider having won the first ever award in April. The June award was won by another Devon boy, Craig Overton, so three of the four awards have a Devon association and our little county (I am a Devonian myself) has been a good breeding ground for Somerset CCC. This must give Lewis some satisfaction?
“Definitely. It’s good for Somerset to have almost the whole of the south west to pick and choose the best young cricketers. The Devon youth set has been brilliant with the guys there bringing through myself, Dibbs, the Overton boys and Burkey, and there’s a few more in the Academy too that will come through in a few years’ time. It is a tremendous thing for Somerset. ”
Regarding the award if Lewis had to pick one defining moment in July which particular performance would he choose?
“For me it would have to be the hundred. When I came in we were in a sticky situation and still needed to go at eight an over so there was work to do (*NB: the score was 106 for 5 chasing 311). The first 60 or 70 runs were thought out. Having Hildy at the other end was brilliant, he was very calm and took the risks and this allowed me to get myself in so that was good. It was a case of just batting and not thinking about myself. So the first 60 or 70 runs flew by and it was then that I looked at the scoreboard and thought we could do it.
“The last 10 to 12 overs or so we still needed to go at eight per over but you know that Taunton is a decent track, we had five wickets in the bank and it was a rapid outfield so you always know there is a chance.
The innings Hildy played was brilliant. Phenomenal.”
And the great all-round performance up at Northampton, how does Lewis reflect back on that one?
“The bowling? It was ridiculous to go out there and take all those wickets, more than I ever would have wished for. It was just one of those games where you come on and immediately something happens, taking wickets with balls when you don’t expect it. It was just one of those games and I would hope for a few more in the future.”
Somerset start the game against Northants 35 points behind leaders Yorkshire so is the game against the basement boys a must win game?
“They are a very dangerous team given the place they are in. They are basically down so can the game with a bit of freedom which can be dangerous so we have got to be right on the money and go out and perform as we know we can. We have got the players to put in a strong performance and bring home the points.”
Can Lewis repeat the same performance as he put in up at Northampton when he took 11 wickets and scored 50 runs?
“That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Yes I would take that.”
Is the team and management still talking about the possibility of winning the Championship or is it just about winning the last few games now and finishing in as high a position as possible?
“We have got to believe. Notts & Yorkshire have to play each other so for us it is all about going out and trying to win this game (against Northamptonshire) and see where we are at the end of the week.”
The Royal London One Day Cup started in promising fashion but petered out thanks to some abject performances and the finer details of Duckworth & Lewis. Looking back how did he and his team-mates reflect on not qualifying for the quarter-finals?
“As a group we are very disappointed that we didn’t qualify. We played ourselves into a position where we should have qualified and the matter of fact is we didn’t play consistently good enough Cricket in games where we should have won but didn’t. And that obviously puts you on the back foot and we got into the momentum of struggling to win games. It is something we are going to work on over winter.”
And what has Lewis learnt from the campaign, his first 50-over experience (apart from youth Cricket) and a format radically different from 20-over and 40-over Cricket?
“There is a lot more time than you think in 50-over Cricket – look across the board at some of the scores posted this season. Sometimes we have lost wickets at the wrong time so did not get the totals that we should have done. But it is all about experience and there are learnings we can take from this campaign and into next season so we can put in a better performance.”
Lewis’s and his reputation has grown this year. One or two Somerset fans (like myself) were surprised that he didn’t make the England Lions squad alongside team-mate Craig Overton so is there any indication that he may be close to a call-up?
“It was too early for me. It’s the first season I have gone out and proved what I am capable of and I like to think that if I carry on through the winter and then into next summer showing this form then I will find myself in one programme or another. At the moment I am concentrating on playing for Somerset and putting in winning performances and we’ll see what follows.”
And what plans does Lewis have for the winter ahead? Is he heading off to sunny climes to play some Cricket?
“None as yet. There will be a much needed couple of weeks off at the end of the year to chill out and let the body settle down. So no plans as yet.”
If this season is one that Lewis describes as “a relatively decent year for me” then I am sure I am not alone in looking forward to a season that he can describe as a great one! Well done young man!