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Somerset v Worcestershire LVCC preview: Somerset aim to keep that winning feeling

Worcs LVCC HSomerset have opted not to break up a winning squad and have stuck with the core of their one-day team for tomorrow’s return to red ball cricket against Worcestershire at Taunton.

Director of Cricket Matt Maynard has kept faith in the bowling attack who performed so well during the Royal London Cup campaign, with youngsters Craig and Jamie Overton, Lewis Gregory and Jack Leach as well as 31-year-old Tim Groenewald all named in a 13-man squad.

The move means that there is no room for veteran Alfonso Thomas who stood down as captain for the 50-over tournament in place of Jim Allenby and went out on loan to Sussex.

When I spoke to Maynard for The Incider before the start of the one-day campaign, he admitted that momentum from the Royal London Cup could be key if Somerset were able to take a winning run from that competition into the LV=County Championship run-in.

While Somerset had a disappointing Royal London Cup overall, failing to qualify for the quarter-finals, they finished on a high, winning their final three matches against two strong sides in Yorkshire and Surrey, as well as a weak Leicestershire team at Grace Road.

Somerset Director of Cricket Matt Maynard
Somerset Director of Cricket Matt Maynard has continued to back youth as the club returns to red ball action tomorrow. Photograph by Alexander Davidson.

Crucially, given increased responsibility, a number of younger players seized their opportunities and made impressions with bat and ball.

Maynard is keen to capitalise on that energy and initiative as the club starts a critical run-in to the County Championship.

Currently the county are sixth in the table with 120 points from 11 matches. They have a game in hand on seventh placed Worcestershire, who have 112 from 12, and fifth placed Nottinghamshire with 149, so need a win to create a cushion between them and the three clubs below them as they seek to avoid relegation and retain their prized Division One status.

Maynard said: “The boys are all looking forward to Friday’s match and the last three one-day results have produced some confidence in the camp, so everyone is quite excited to be returning to Championship cricket at Taunton.”

Returning to the side for tomorrow’s encounter with Worcestershire is Championship skipper Marcus Trescothick who called time on his white ball career and acted as assistant coach to Maynard during the Royal London Cup.

Marcus Trescothick
Marcus Trescothick returns as captain after acting as assistant coach to Matt Maynard during the Royal London Cup. Photograph by Alexander Davidson.

Trescothick, who hit 127 for the Seconds in their drawn game against Hampshire earlier this week, said: “We have still got a bit of work to do. It has been a while since we played red ball cricket so we need to get back into the groove pretty quickly.

“We are at the back end of the campaign with five games left and each one is as important at the next one so we have got to be on the money from ball one at 11 o’clock on Friday.

“We have done well in our last three white ball games and that winning feeling is vital when you come into this stage of the season so we want to keep that going.”

The skipper added: “Hopefully we can take a lot from that and keep going forward.”

Also returning to the 13-man squad for tomorrow’s game are batsman Johann Myburgh and keeper Michael Bates, who played the first half of the Royal London campaign before losing his place to Alex Barrow. Since then Bates has been playing for the Seconds, where he scored his first century in Somerset colours. It seems unlikely however, that either he or Alex Barrow will feature in the remaining Championship games after this one, following Somerset’s signing of Luke Ronchi. The New Zealander will join Somerset as an overseas player for the final four games of the season, starting with the match away to Yorkshire, starting on 1 September.

Tom Abell faces a late fitness test tomorrow after receiving a blow during the game with Leicestershire earlier this week.

With Somerset out of the Royal London Cup, they can now concentrate all their efforts on one form of the game, something which the team said helped during the Royal London Cup, where they did not have to switch between disciplines.

Jack Leach and Craig Overton
Jack Leach and Craig Overton will both feature against Worcestershire after excellent performances in the Royal London One-Day Cup. Photograph by Alexander Davidson.

Somerset (from): Marcus Trescothick (capt), Tom Abell, Johann Myburgh, Tom Cooper, James Hildreth, Jim Allenby, Michael Bates (wkt), Peter Trego, Lewis Gregory, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Jack Leach and Tim Groenewald.

Meanwhile Worcestershire have announced that Daryl Mitchell will return to LV = County Championship action tomorrow and lead the side against Somerset.

Mitchell was forced to sit out the previous match against Nottinghamshire at New Road while he recovered from a hamstring injury. It was the first four-day game that the 31-year-old had missed in four-and-a-half years spanning 68 LV = CC matches.

Mitchell comes back into the side in place of Richard Oliver who has had a battle to find consistency this season.

Brett D’Oliveira looks set to continue as opener, while Alex Gidman, who returned to the side as skipper in place of Mitchell against Nottinghamshire, retains his place after an impressive innings of 71.

Joe Leach, Jack Shantry and Charlie Morris have also been given an opportunity to recharge their batteries after forming the basis of the pace attack throughout the season and taking 50, 47 and 42 LV = CC wickets respectively.

Leach and Shantry were rested from the final two Royal London One-Day Cup matches while Morris also had eight days without any competitive action before returning in the RLC match at Derby on Tuesday.

Leach told the Worcestershire CCC website: “It’s been a long season but physically we feel fine. Obviously you are not going to be as fresh as you were in May. It’s about managing ourselves these last four games.

“We need to throw everything at them so we need to make sure we are doing the right things to make sure we are prepared to throw everything at those games.

“It’s a good challenge but certainly one we are up for.”

Bowling coach Matt Mason said: “People get mentally tired, but that’s part of the game. It happens every August-September. Everyone fades a little but that’s another part of the test you have to go through when you play professional sport. It does get difficult.

“”These three guys in particular, as well as the support from Brett bowling his spin and Saeed and young Ed Barnard, they will get through it.

“When they sit back at the end of the season and see how well they’ve done statistically, they are all going to be pretty proud of themselves for sure.”

Worcestershire (from): Mitchell, D’Oliveira, Fell, Clarke, Gidman, Whiteley, Cox, Leach, Shantry, Ajmal, Morris and Barnard.