With 2015 nearly at an end and 2016 just over the horizon, we caught up with Director of Cricket Matt Maynard to discuss the season just gone and to get his thoughts ahead of the new campaign.
How would you sum up the 2015 campaign?
I think we let ourselves down in the NatWest T20 Blast but I felt that we fought well in the Championship. On my travels to the various Area Committee AGM’s a number of the Members let it be known that they were pleased that not only did we manage to stay up but we also managed to give the younger players a lot more game time. I think that is one of the key things in the Championship. The young players have to learn their game and what they have to do and the likes of the Overton’s, Lewis Gregory, Tom Abell and Jack Leach showed signs that they can be the core of this team for the next five or so years. They had a lot of game time in 2015 and it was great to see them perform. That was a very pleasing aspect for me. I believe that we have a good group of young players who are of a high enough quality to not only represent Somerset but also make the step up to higher honours in the future. I also think that is part and parcel of the job. It’s about nurturing the next wave of talent for England.
You said when you took the job that you would rotate the bowling attack to help ensure that the young players remained injury free. That plan seemed to work out well in 2015.
Our schedule is so hectic and the young players aren’t fully developed physically. They’re strong but bowling day in and day out takes its toll. If they can play between 10 and 12 games one year, 12 to 14 games the next then we will move on to more if we can. The rotation policy is something that we will look to implement again next year, particularly at the start of the season when we have about eight matches in eight weeks. I don’t believe that any bowler should be expected to bowl for eight weeks in a row.
The young players performed really well in 2015 but we shouldn’t overlook the contribution of some of the more senior players should we?
Absolutely. James Hildreth had an amazing year. He was the form player coming in to the season following the MCC match in Dubai and he brought that form in to the season and maintained it all year. He was excellent all season and thoroughly deserved his Somerset Player of the Season award. Marcus Trescothick was also really good for us in 2015. He’s still got a real hunger for the game. He’s a real lover of the game of cricket and that is so apparent at every session that he comes to. He’s always full of energy and still has so much to offer.
We can’t really talk about 2015 without mentioning Chris Gayle can we?
No we can’t! He played three innings and all three were fantastic knocks. No one will ever forget seeing what he did out in the middle and it was an incredible experience to have him here. I don’t think anyone else in the world could have played an innings like he did against Kent. AB de Villiers could potentially do something like that but it would be in a very different manner with a few more deft sweeps but Chris just kept on hitting it hard and high!
Looking ahead to 2016 what do you think cricket fans can expect?
I’m not one to make predictions and say that this or that will happen. I think that in the Championship Yorkshire are looking really strong again and have made a good signing in David Willey. The title is theirs to lose I think. We have obviously signed a real quality player for the Championship in Chris Rogers who is an absolute diamond of a bloke and Roelof van der Merwe will also be joining us. Therefore I think we have recruited well plus the likes of Adam Hose are coming through and Ryan Davies is joining from Kent so it’ll be an exciting season. I’m hopeful that we can secure some good signings for the NatWest T20 Blast and we must get in to the quarter final of that competition. If we don’t do that it will be disappointing. Talks are currently ongoing with a number of players and that is why I’m currently in Australia.
Do you have a message for the Somerset supporters?
Thank you so much for your continued support! The Members have been terrific this year even though we didn’t fulfil our potential, especially in the NatWest T20 Blast. I think they fully understand the direction that we are trying to go in. I wish them all the very best over the festive period and I look forward to catching up with them in 2016.