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Take Five: The Twins

Sibling rivalry can prove to be a positive thing to some. And it can also be negative to others. In the case of Somerset’s Overton twins it would appear to be the former and any rivalries are a drive and inspiration to two young players who are building fearsome reputations for themselves, despite both managing mixed fortunes during extended periods of their short careers.

It would appear that expectations are always high for the twin boys who will turn the grand old age of 22 on the same day that Somerset kick start their 2016 season up in sunny Durham on 10th April.

Even when they were teenagers playing club cricket in North Devon there were those close to the game championing the talents of Jamie and Craig Overton, and predicting a bright future in county cricket.

Even after being signed by Somerset, a year or two before either had made a first team appearance, there were others proclaiming bright futures for the boys in international cricket.

In 2013 and 2014 both players enjoyed success and endured disappointment at different times and Taunton regulars would have been forgiven for believing they would rarely see the twins play well in the same side, so it’s defining that 2015 was the first season that both played well in tandem.

Like many Somerset regulars I first saw Jamie when he was playing for England u-19s against their South African counterparts at the County Ground in July 2012 alongside future county regulars Bell-Drummond, Rossington, Foakes and Topley. He was fast! At the start of the 2013 season young Jamie found himself in the spotlight when Somerset played Warwickshire in their first home game of that season in front of the Sky Sports cameras and he caught the attention of the pundits who simply drooled at his pace and hostility. Jamie had certainly arrived and enjoyed a successful season that prompted inclusion in the England ODI squad late in the season.

Craig, who made his way into first-class cricket a month earlier than Jamie, suffered from injury and had to watch while his brother stole the limelight but, unlike some may have, he sought comfort in his brother’s success and used it as inspiration. He was determined to take his chance when it came. That happened in early 2014 and kick-started a season when Craig would step out of his brothers shadows to forge his own reputation as a canny pace bowler and hard-hitting lower order batter. He had some big highs; who will forget the 99 he smashed off Lancashire at Taunton? And he had some blistering bowling spells that turned games.

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In contrast Jamie suffered his own injury problems and a chronic loss of form but, to his great credit, resorted to playing club cricket back home and for Devon in the Minor Counties to get games under his belt. And he returned with some zest and determination in 2015

Craig received his first international call-up in June 2015 when he was selected as cover for Chris Jordan for England’s third One Day International against New Zealand but didn’t feature.

With both players gaining the attention of the England selectors already many feel that the Overton’s are well placed to become the first pair of twins to play for England. It is a sentiment shared by club captain Marcus Trescothick.

In a fabulous interview with All Out Cricket Tres talked about the young talent at Somerset and said of the duo: “I think there’s a very, very good chance the Overton twins will be included [by England] somewhere along the line.

“They’ve got different attributes. Craig’s an allrounder who bowls nicely and can whack it at the end, and then you’ve got Jamie who’s an x-factor bowler who bowls at a very high pace. It will be interesting to see how long we can keep hold of them here before they disappear off.”

Both still possess raw talent of course and there are some flaws. It is pertinent to remember that Craig will miss the start of the 2016 season and that game at Durham because of suspension after three altercations with umpires in 2015. He will need to rein in the emotions if he is to be as successful as he can be.

Jamie can be as erratic as he is hostile and has taken some stick from experienced batters in the past but he will undoubtedly learn from this simply by playing more games.

The Overton’s are central to Somerset’s plans and the county will need both firing in tandem if the club is to challenge for trophies. So, for now, England can wait!