There was a pleasant surprise for Somerset supporters this week with the news that Ireland will be coming to the Cooper Associates County Ground in April to play a four-day game in pre-season. This will also see the welcome return to Taunton of George Dockrell, who wore the Wyvern from 2010 to 2015.
This game hands the visitors a perfect warm-up ahead of their historic Test debut against Pakistan, who were confirmed as Ireland’s first Test opponents late in 2017, for a match which will start on 11 May 2018 at Malahide in north Dublin. Pakistan will prove tough opponents and are currently third in the Test match rankings.
George had made his Ireland A debut when he was invited by Brian Rose to train with Somerset in 2008, and a full international when he was signed on a two-year deal in July 2010. His early progress was hindered with regular call-up’s by Ireland, a dislocated shoulder injury he suffered in the 2011 World Cup and the presence of Murali Kartik.
But he had some great moments in a Somerset shirt and looked set for a long career in County Cricket. After Kartik left Somerset at the end of 2011, a 19-year-old George accepted the challenge of being our senior spinner in the opening match of the 2012 County Championship taking 6 for 27 in the second innings against Middlesex to help us to a six-wicket victory.
He enjoyed another six wicket haul later that season in another win taking 6 for 29 against Durham as Somerset’s finished second in the table.
In all George took over 100 wickets for Somerset and it was Matt Maynard who released George at the end of the 2015 season alongside James Regan and Adam Dibble. He has been playing for Leinster and Ireland since.
I often wonder if those regular excursions around the world with Ireland were a help or a hindrance to George. I think a full season in the County Championship for Somerset would have exposed Dockers to stronger opposition, and therefore experience, than playing the UAE or Namibia for Ireland.
And there was, of course, the rise of a certain Jack Leach, another left-arm spinner that may have influenced Maynard’s thinking?
Whatever the case, George is looking forward to coming back to the south west, and he said: “I have some great memories from my time in Somerset and made some great friends while I was there.
“It’s a wonderful place to play cricket and it’ll be good to get a run-out after a winter of mostly white-ball cricket.
“Everyone is buzzing ahead of the historic first Test for the squad and this game will be a great help as we build up to the match.”
It is not known at the time of writing whether the game will be treated as a touring game or friendly, therefore whether there will be a fee to enter or not, but, if the weather is kind, then there should be a healthy crowd to see in the 2018 season.