As the press gathered at the Cooper Associates County Ground for the 2018 Media Day they were met with drizzling rain, grey skies and a pitch waterlogged in several places. Far from the spring conditions one would expect so close to the start of a new cricket season.
But a new season is indeed near and this spells renewed hopes and ambitions for all Somerset players and supporters.
Now twelve months is a long time. For Somerset County Cricket Club the past twelve months have been a time of change and evolution. It all started about one year ago, pretty much to the day, when the club announced that Guy Lavender would be vacating his position as chief executive and his replacement was being identified. So, ultimately, in came Lee Cooper and subsequently some high profile members of the Somerset set-up left the building, including the director of cricket and the one-day captain in 2017, who both left with time left on their contracts. Back came Andy Hurry as DoC, Jason Kerr was promoted to head coach and Tom Abell re-instated as our captain in the County Championship. And Lewis Gregory named as the t20 captain.
But, earlier this year, and just as things were looking stable after an amount of discontent with members over increased membership package prices, the club announced that Cooper would be leaving Somerset after just a few short months. This after his replacement was identified and appointed. Then, to compound things further, there was Bancroftgate, but the less said about that the better.
So, in the world of Somerset CCC, twelve months is indeed a long time.
But despite the weather and all of the above there was a very positive atmosphere circulating the CACG as the players and club officials met the press. And why shouldn’t there be? Jack Leach and Craig Overton have played for England this winter, and played well. Dom Bess starred for the England Lions and three of our promising youngsters played key roles for the England u19s. And there are a number of other youth players in various programmes, far too many for me to remember. It all augers well.
So when everyone was sat comfortably new chief executive Andrew Cornish took his place alongside Andy Hurry and the two young captain’s to address the press for the first time. He spoke of his career journey and that managing a cricket club was one of his career aspirations and – as he put it – “what better cricket club to come and run than this cricket club here?” He went on to say that Somerset had the best county set-up in the country with the most potential.
Mr Cornish looked very assured and comfortable as he answered questions and spoke of his first impressions of Somerset. “What has shone through in my first week has been the professionalism and the desire to win trophies,” he added.
But cricket is changing of course with proposed changes to the county structure, but Mr Cornish promised that the views of Somerset members would be shared with the game’s governing bodies. “Cricket faces several challenges but we will ensure Somerset have a voice and are heard at the top table”, he said. “I have already heard plenty from members and I would like to hear more.
“People haven’t been backwards in coming forwards, which I like, and I have a desire for further input and for everyone to be able to put their views across.
“I have a meeting next week with other chief executives and the ECB when I will be able to turn my attentions towards other challenges.”
Andy Hurry insisted that Somerset had the talent and experience available to win the County Championship so that was his aim. “I’m no fool,” he said. ”One of the reasons I came back was because of the talent within the dressing room – we have a great mix of senior players and ambitious young players.
“Since I left they have come very close to winning the Championship, which is a very powerful experience, and then battled at the other end of the table, which is another valuable experience.”
Andy went on to say he was not in a position to update the supporters on the recruitment of an overseas player and would only comment when he did.
So it was all very positive. And thank goodness for that. The players had smiles on their faces as they had their pictures taken in the damp car park because the playing area was out of bounds. But it will be on the pitch that the real business starts April 20th when Worcestershire visit Taunton. Let’s hope for more positivity then.