Somerset set to start new Vitality Blast T20 season
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Somerset start their Vitality Blast T20 campaign with a home game against Essex at Taunton tonight (Wednesday, 6.30pm).
They finished fourth in the Central Group last year, with Tom Abell their top run scorer with 227 at 32.42 and Ollie Sale the leading wicket taker with 13 at 23.15.
South African Marchant de Lange has bolstered the squad, while Devon Conway - having made a double century on his Test debut for New Zealand against England at Lord's last week - is available for the nine group games.
Captain Lewis Gregory is capable of blasting quick runs at the end of an innings and taking key wickets, both as an opening bowler and at the death, while Max Waller has developed into a specialist T20 bowler, with the economical leg-spinner often opening the attack and able to pin batsmen down with his variety of delivery and subtle changes of pace.
Attacking batsman Tom Banton, 22, has a vast array of punishing shots and has already earned nine T20 appearances for England and six one-day international appearances. He can also keep wicket.
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Director of cricket Andy Hurry and head coach Jason Kerr make no secret of expecting to win every competition their team enter, with this season’s Blast no exception.
But Somerset have won only 10 of 24 group matches over the past two seasons, failing to reach Finals Day since 2018, and will need a much greater degree of consistency to stand any chance of lifting the trophy.
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Only Abell and Babar Azam scored more than 200 runs in last season’s group stage and Somerset will need some of their young guns - Banton, Tom Lammonby, Lewis Goldsworthy and Will Smeed - to build on some hugely promising performances.
Skipper Gregory and Craig Overton will look to lead the way with the ball, aided by the ultra-consistent Waller, while Roelof van der Merwe’s all-round skills, including those of a superb fielder, will again be key to hopes of success.