Having made his 1st XI debut for Somerset in late August 2014 – and that memorable debut innings of 95 against Warwickshire at Taunton that so nearly re-wrote the record books – 2015 was a massive year for young Tom Abell as he attempted to solidify the good start to his career. And he achieved this scoring 726 Championship runs, scoring his maiden hundred against Hampshire at Taunton just over one year after his debut, whilst also carrying his bat for Somerset twice against Notts (76 not out) and Warwickshire in the last game of the season (88 not out).
The season ended perfectly for Tom when he was named the LV Breakthrough Player of the Season for his performances in the County Championship.
After a successful winter in Australia Tom has another stern test ahead of him further developing his standing in the game and we caught up with him to see how he hopes the season will pan out.
Tom it was a great year for you last year, one that you established yourself at the top of the order alongside Tres, so what was your main highlight of the season?
Thank you. There were a few highlights I guess but from a personal point of view a highlight would have to be the maiden hundred which was a special feeling and hopefully I can emulate that a few more times this season. But for me the main highlight would have to be the last game of the season and that win against Warwickshire. It’s good to see young players coming to the fore, especially Leachy bowling so well in that game. It felt like a lot of hard work after a hard season so that was the main highlight.
When you carried your bat in that amazing game against Notts in June last season were you aware you were the first Somerset player to do this since John Francis in 2005?
I didn’t at the time but I was told soon after. It’s a bit of a strange one because we lost some early wickets so I just tried to dig in when it got tough and obviously the longer you bat the easier it gets. We didn’t bat well as a side so I just tried to anchor the innings so others could bat around me. It set up a fascinating run chase for us so it’s an achievement I am pretty proud of.
Chris Rogers has signed for this season as captain and he will come in after you at number 3 so will make you feel easier when batting knowing that he is behind you in case things don’t start too well?
Probably not because I put most pressure on myself, probably more than anyone else does. Obviously it’s nice to know in the back of your mind that you have quality coming in at 3 and that bolsters our top order with Tres and Hildy also there, but I don’t want to rely on runs from Chris and want to make sure I pull my weight and try to get the side off to a good start.
And what do you think Buck will bring captaincy-wise to the team that will possibly be different to Tres?
Obviously he will have his own way of going about things but he has made it quite clear that he intends to carry on the good work Tres did but naturally he will put his own stamp on things. I have only got good things to say about him after the preseason games. He is a tough competitor which I think will be really good and will hopefully filter through the side while we are challenging other sides.
A batsman’s currency is runs, and last season you scored 726 Championship runs at 36.3, so naturally the main personal aim for you is to exceed last season efforts?
Of course, I always strive to get more runs and I am looking to get 1,000 runs this year. But to be honest those numbers aren’t really a big deal for me. I want to do as well as I can and we want to be pushing at the top end of the table this year. If the team does well then I think the individual performances take care of themselves.
The club made a terrible start to 2015 with three defeats on the spin so it will be vitally important to start better this season but it looks a tough one on paper. Are the team confident of a better first few games?
It is going to be a tough start but when you look at all the sides in the division they are all good sides so it is going to be a tough season throughout. I think that at times last season we played some really good Cricket then at crucial times in games when we were in match-winning position we fell away and lost games. A few percent’s here-and-there and I think we can turn those results into positives but, yes, getting off to a good start is crucial – that’s where our efforts will be focused.
You played primarily in the Championship last season but did have a run in the Royal London Cup too so are you looking to play all forms of the game in 2016?
If I am being realistic at the moment I have got a bit of work to do on my one day game and I want to establish myself at the top of the order in the Championship side – that’s my priority – and then I want to keep learning and progressing my one day and Twenty20 skills, but that will take a bit of time. But, yeah, in future I want to play in all forms of Cricket.
And it is too soon to harbour any international ambitions?
Obviously it is an ambition of mine to represent my country but realistically I have a lot of work to do first and have to back up what I did last season. But if I perform well for Somerset this year then down the line I would love to play for England.
It is April but if we were to rush now to September and the end of the season what would make 2016 a successful season for yourself and the team?
For myself a thousand runs after last year. From a team point of view pushing at the top of the Championship, whether we can win it or not we will be giving it everything we have got and try to cement a top three finish.
Do you think we can the T20 or 50-over tournaments?
Without a doubt, we have the talent and ability and it came together at times last year. I think it is just a case of stringing those things together and the couple of overseas signings has given everyone at the club a massive boost. When you look at out T20 side then there won’t be many with a stronger batting line-up than Somerset has so we stand a great chance.
Thank you Tom – have a great season!