Late last week one of those moments all cricket-lovers wait for in the long winter months took place. As the last of the floodlights were being installed at the County Ground, Tom Abell, Dom Bess and Peter Trego were selected for the trip to Dubai to face Surrey from 24th March.
For Tom Abell, overlooked for the Lions squads over the winter, this is a clear indication that he is on the England selectors’ radar while for Bess it is a huge vote of confidence after a season which failed to deliver on the early promise and his England call-up. The selection of Trego who now only has a “white ball” contract for Somerset is potentially the most intriguing.
Tom Abell has in the past year earned great credit for the way he has developed and led his county. Tom, remember, in early July 2017 was at such a low point that he dropped himself for the visit to Scarborough in the Championship. Since then he has led the 4-day side with great skill while becoming a genuine all-rounder. 2018 saw him amass 883 runs at an average just over 40 and 19 wickets at just under 27 apiece. It should be remembered that the majority of those wickets were, at the time, vital.
While I don’t expect Abell to be playing in the Ashes this summer he should draw great encouragement that both his leadership and all-round skills are of a level that sees him very much in the conversation for the winter tours. If he needed any additional motivation, which I doubt, this surely is it. Let’s hope that Somerset are the beneficiaries in 2019.
Bess returns to the Champion County match where he excelled last year taking 8 wickets and adding, for good measure, a century batting at number 9. For Dom, who had by any metric, a disappointing 2018 this is an opportunity to re-establish his international credentials as, at worst, the back-up to Mooen Ali. From a Somerset point of view it is to be hoped that a good performance, against a tough opponent, in conditions that should favour him will be a springboard to a stellar 2019.
Opportunities knock for Bess, not just as a bowler in championship and 50-over cricket, but as a batsman. I firmly believe that Bess should be spoken of in the same breath as Byrom, Banton et al when any discussion of young top-order batsmen takes place for the county. If, as I believe he can, he is able to show his ability with the bat not only will it take pressure off his bowling but immeasurably strengthen the county side. A good season at Taunton for Dominic Bess would almost certainly, in my opinion, result in a good season for the county.
So while two of our best young starts head to Dubai, they will be joined by a man toward the other end of the age scale, who is the epitome of Somerset cricket, and who, along with James Hildreth, must be among the unluckiest players in terms of England recognition. It is quite possible that the selectors aren’t aware that Trego has relinquished his red-ball aspirations. On the other hand, is this an indication that Trego may be the subject of a rethink at Taunton?
One of the biggest worries for all Somerset supporters ahead of the new season is that, despite Tres’ continued presence, the top 4 is very dependent on James Hildreth. That may be unfair to the returning Azhar Ali but could Trego have what it takes to play red-ball cricket as a batsman? It is an intriguing thought.
I could of course be mad in that this is nothing more than a selection recognising a great county servant!
Beyond the potential individual and collective benefits to Somerset of the selections, and acknowledging this is a pre-season game, it gives the opportunity to put a dent in
Surrey’s preparations for the campaign ahead.
Watch this space!