It’s the last few days of November. It’s cold and icy and some thoughts are with the festive season ahead. But with the 2018 cricket season fixtures now announced there will be those thinking of sunny days sipping a cold one at the Cooper Associates County Ground. And why not?
Somerset fans have enjoyed incredible highs and lows in the past two seasons of the Specsavers County Championship. The memory of that last day at Taunton in 2016 will live long, as we all watched while Middlesex and Yorkshire contrived to do a deal in the men’s toilets at Lords to deprive Somerset of a first ever title win.
Then there was the great escape of 2017. With four games to go Somerset looked dead and buried, with the longest tenure in the top flight of the County Championship almost certainly about to end. But the team responded; led brilliantly by young skipper Tom Abell, Division One cricket in the South West was secured with Middlesex heading down one tier, despite long protracted protests from the Londoners which I can’t be bothered to even talk about.
Somerset will start their 2018 campaign with two homes games; in fact four of the first five games will be at the Cooper Associates County Ground. Newly promoted Worcestershire will be the first opponents on Friday April 20th with Yorkshire visiting one week later. A trip to Lancashire on Friday May 4th will be followed by a visit by Hampshire on the 11th.
Four-day cricket will take a short rest while the qualifying rounds of the Royal London One Day Cup are fought out. Somerset head to Surrey on Friday May 18th two days before a home fixture against Glamorgan. Plum fixtures would appear to be the visit of Middlesex on Sunday May 27th – and a potential grudge match given all that has gone on before – and the always well awaited local derby with Gloucestershire on Friday June 1st. The early stages end on Friday June 6th at Hampshire with play-offs and semi-finals on 14th, 17th and 18th June before a Lords final on 30th.
Somerset will start the T20 campaign with two home fixtures too. On Friday 6th July we welcome local foes Gloucestershire before Kent visit on the following Sunday. And it’s time we dished out a beating to them after failing to do so since – well, I can’t remember when. The campaign ends against the same opposition on Thursday August 16th.
The County Championship ends at Nottinghamshire with a game starting on Monday September 24th.
So, we know who we are playing and when but who will be coming from overseas to wear the Wyvern in 2018? For the County Championship I heard there were two options, depending on which division we would be playing in. Some reliable and trusted voices are saying on social media that this will be New Zealand’s Kane Williamson with West Indian Andre Russell signing up for the 20-over stuff. If so these would be amazing additions to the squad.
Williamson presently sits with the best batsmen in Test cricket and would be a great fit to replace Dean Elgar who did so well in 2017 before he headed back to South Africa. If true a genuine marquee signing for the cider county.
Russell is slightly more controversial as he is currently serving a one-year ban for a doping violation in his native Jamaica. This ban ends on January 31st 2018. But he is a fine player and one who will excite the crowd, should this rumour bear some fruition. And we have a proud history of West Indians wearing our colours.
With our top flight status secure I am surprised the club has taken so long to make the announcement given the recent heated debates about the changes to Membership for 2018.
I am sure the new CEO, Lee Cooper, has his reasons and we will not be disappointed with any new arrivals at the Cooper Associates County Ground for the year ahead.
With Matt Maynard gone to pastures new and Andy Hurry returning as new director of cricket it certainly promises to be a good season for the Somerset faithful.
One thing is for sure, we will be there.