It was the former Hampshire and England opener Mark Nicholas who once said: “A great 1st XI is not built entirely by the eleven players in it, but also by the five or six players fighting hard to get in the side.”
And he is right.
Building a successful side means building a successful squad by shaping players ready and willing to step into the fray when the situation occurs.
This week Somerset showed its commitment to building a great side for now and for the future. Not by making any marquee signings but by rewarding some hard working youngsters who are striving for a long career in the game and who are keen to play for Somerset.
Adam Hose joined Somerset during the 2015 season and was offered opportunities in the 1st XI and didn’t disappoint. He found chances harder to come by in 2016 but a very good 77 at Chelmsford showed his potential and he has shown the right attitude, supporting his team-mates throughout the exciting end of season as Somerset tried in vain to win a first Championship title.
Hose will be a Somerset player until at least the end of the 2017 season and told the official site of his delight, saying: “Playing for Somerset is a very special privilege. The support we get, not only for our home games, but around the country is something very unique. The supporters take great pride in calling themselves Somerset fans and I know the players feel no different. As a squad there is a huge hunger for success growing throughout the changing room and I know we can’t wait to get started come March 1st.”
Flying Dutchman Paul van Meekeren has also extended his stay at the CACG. He has been rewarded with a two-year deal at Somerset following an initial three-month contract with the county.
The 23-year-old, who mostly played for the second XI in 2016, featured in two first-team T20 Blast matches and against the touring Pakistani’s but he has international experience having played in 15 T20 internationals and two one-day games for the Netherlands.
He was also happy to be around a bit longer telling the club’s official site: “It’s great to have signed a contract with Somerset and I hope to develop my game more while I am here at the Club. I will be going home for a few weeks at the end of the season and then I will report back here with the rest of the squad for winter training later in the autumn, which I am really looking forward to.”
What is really good about these deals is that Somerset have shown they are not scared to give players a chance. Hosey was released by Hampshire but Somerset saw enough in him to offer a chance and he looked the part early on. Despite limited opportunities Somerset have not made a hasty decision and released him but offered him more time to progress. By signing a two year deal Meeks will also have the chance to concentrate on developing his bowling.
The two were joined by George Bartlett, who has signed his first professional terms for Somerset. The 18 year-old has had a good year scoring a century for England against Sri Lanka in the Under 19 Test Match plus his century for Somerset against Yorkshire Second XI. Many of the supporters who head to Taunton Vale to watch the seconds rave about Bartlett and he I another one to watch in Somerset’s ever growing pool of young players in the Academy.