The week: Preseason starts, Yasir signs and the new kit revealed

We take a look at the last seven days for Somerset County Cricket Club.

  • Draw at the Vale

The 2016 season came one step closer this past week as Somerset started their preseason on Monday with a 3-day game against local rivals Gloucestershire at a chilly Taunton Vale. It proved to be a useful workout for the players.

The visitors batted first and declared on 277 for 9 off 72 overs having been 216 for 9 at tea. Craig Overton led the bowling picking up 4 for 54 off 14 overs and was supported by Tim Groenewald (10-6-25-2) and new boy Tom Barber who took 2 wickets but his 15 overs cost 76 runs.

Somerset closed day one on 2 for 0 and the batsmen dominated the second day with Marcus Trescothick hitting 95, Tom Abell 40 and James Hildreth an unbeaten 54. Somerset declared at tea on 229 for 3, just 48 runs shy of the Gloucester score. The visitors ended day 2 on 115 for 3, 163 runs ahead, and declared just before lunch the following day on 206 for 4, therefore setting Somerset a target of 255 off a minimum 74 overs.

Captain for this game Jim Allenby opened and retired on 54 and Abell helped himself to a second half century in the game finishing unbeaten on 55 as the home side ended on 186 for five off 51.5 overs, 68 runs short of their target. Debutant keeper Ryan Davies played some nice shots in his useful 23.

  • T20 washout

Trehs 2016 T20The players returned to the Vale on Thursday for an intended 20-over double header but the weather had the final say and only 13 overs were possible during the day. Somerset’s batsmen did manage to get out to the middle as Allenby (46 off 29 balls) opened with Adam Hose who scored 35 off 33 balls. Peter Trego came in at number 3 and struck 26 not out from 11 deliveries. But the rain kept coming and the umpires ended things prematurely with the cider men 114 for 2.

New signing Michael Leask was in the Somerset side for these games.

  • New kit

Somerset showed off a new kit in the rain interrupted game against Gloucestershire. As this was a T20 match it was presumed this was the new T20 kit but the club have conformed that the kit worn is for the new 50-over competition.

Produced by TYKA Sports the shirt has a black body with horizontal red stripes and grey sleeves. The picture shows Peter Trego in the shirt. The new T20 kit, which will be worn by Chris Gayle this season, will be officially revealed to the press on Thursday 7th April.

  • Yasir returns

On Tuesday the club announced that Yasir Arafat had agreed to return to Somerset for the 2016 season on loan from Hampshire to play in both forms of white ball cricket. It would appear that the Southampton-based club’s signing of Reese Topley from Essex would limit Yasir’s game time so they allowed him to move to Taunton.

Yasir played for Somerset’s T20 team in 2013, one that finished second in the group stages before losing to Surrey in the quarter-final’s. He was part of a formidable death bowling partnership with the now departed Alfonso Thomas and his 20 wickets during that campaign cost 292 runs with a best of 4 for 5 and an economy of 7.09.

The player, who last played for his native Pakistan in 2012, has signed as a non-overseas player although I must admit I am still trying to work that one out! But there is no doubting the ability and experience will be very useful during the upcoming campaigns as the bowling was often lacking in the one day stuff in 2015.

  • Another new signing to be announced soon

It has been a busy winter for Somerset with Roleof van der Merwe, new 4-day skipper Chris Rogers and young keeper Ryan Davies all signing up before Christmas. Since then the club has signed players of potential in Michael Leask and Tom Barber while the signing of Chris Gayle for six T20 games made all the headlines.

The signing of Yasir Arafat will not be the last one before the team starts the campaign against Durham in two weeks’ time as there will be a second T20 player recruited who was described to me as a “stunning signing” that will excite the fans. This player will not necessarily be a replacement for Gayle when he is not available and may play alongside him.

With Matt Maynard spending time in Australia during the winter there is every possibility this new signing could be from down under. We will have to wait and see.