The great Alfonso takes his place in a Somerset team for the last time against his former club Warwickshire, after it was announced he will be leaving the club after this final game of the season.
Alfonso Thomas has taken over 550 wickets for the cider county in just under eight seasons having arrived at the County Ground before the 2008 season. He was signed by Brian Rose who was impressed with the player he saw while on a scouting trip to South Africa.
The former director of cricket said at the time of his signing: “I watched him twice when I was out in South Africa and was impressed with what I saw.”
He added: “He is very highly rated and has a great record. Alfonso will be a great addition and will really strengthen the Somerset squad.”
The move to Somerset was good for both parties; few had heard of Alfonso when he signed on yet the move to the south west seemed to galvanise him as he went on to become one of the best one day bowlers in the world, particularly in T20 cricket where he won trophies playing in Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh and enjoyed two season playing in the Indian Premier League.
He played once for South Africa in 2007.
Likewise he was Mr. Reliable for Somerset in all formats and won many games for his adopted county. He was particularly impressive at the death of games turning some lost causes into games won.
A highlight would be the four wickets in four balls against Sussex at Taunton in 2014 which was a real ‘I was there’ moment for everyone in the ground.
He led Somerset many times when Marcus Trescothick was unavailable including the memorable journey to the Champions League semi-final in 2011 when Somerset’s unfancied youngsters so nearly beat Kieron Pollard’s Mumbai to make the final.
The decision to allow Thommo to leave is hardly a surprise as he has appeared to be out of favour for some time with the club’s cricket management. This is the first time Alfonso has featured in a Somerset team since the corresponding fixture in Birmingham in a game that started on 18th July, and since then had been loaned to Sussex for the Royal London One Day Cup in late July and August.
He is 38 years old now and Somerset director of cricket Matt Maynard has made it clear he is backing Somerset’s developing crop of youngsters.
But the game gives the great Alfonso a perfect opportunity to sign off in style and say a proper farewell to the Somerset fans who held him in high regard throughout his time at Taunton. Let’s hope he takes some wickets while helping Somerset to retain top flight status too.
Alfi says he intends to stay in the game: “It’s been great fun but like all good things they eventually come to an end.
“I’m intending to remain in cricket – either continuing to play or by making the transition into coaching – it was a great privilege to be asked by Gary Kirsten to work with his bowlers during the IPL in India this year that I really enjoyed.”
Maynard said of the veteran South African: “Alfonso has proved himself to be one of the best bowlers in one-day cricket – particularly in high pressure situations – where he has proved himself to be world class time and time again.
“Alfonso’s contribution to Somerset has been immense over many years and I am sure I can speak for all Somerset supporters in extending their thanks and best wishes to Alfonso and his family for the future.”
Alfi played at a time when Somerset were arguably the best all-round team in the country, able to compete in all formats, yet the team fell at the final hurdle many times. Yet silverware proved elusive and it is a crying shame Thomas never got to win a trophy during his time at the County Ground. It certainly wasn’t for his lack of effort.
Given his age it will remain to be seen whether he will extend his playing days in county cricket although he remains incredibly fit and has performed well in the four-day game in 2015 for Somerset. He would certainly compliment the youngsters at Leicestershire or Derbyshire or even the noisy lot up the M5 at Bristol.
But his Somerset career is coming to an end so thanks Alfonso – you’ve been great!