This season Somerset County Cricket Club will be re-introducing cricket matches at Under 19 level.
In recent years there has been no representative cricket above the Under 17 level, but this season Somerset have decided to resurrect the Under 19 age group.
Steve Snell, the Director of the Somerset Academy and Second XI coach, said: “This summer we are re-introducing Under 19 cricket in Somerset for the first time for more than 10 seasons. We are doing this because it provides another opportunity for young cricketers to play representative cricket and showcase their skills. Under 19 cricket is a step up from age group cricket and a great training ground for Second XI cricket and beyond.
“This summer we will be playing two three-day matches. One against Worcestershire at Taunton Vale and one against Warwickshire at Bath Cricket Club. The sides will be made up of Academy youngsters, players who are showing promise in age group and league cricket, plus any other youngsters across the south west who are demonstrating the skills and behaviours that may suggest they have a future in the Somerset First XI.
Steve, who grew up on the Isle of Wight, talked about one of his Under 19 experiences. “I captained Hampshire Under 19s back in 2002,” he said. “We were beaten by Somerset at Bristol in a final and I know the experience certainly helped me in my development.”
James Hildreth is also a keen advocate of Under 19 cricket and was a member of the Somerset team that beat Hampshire 14 years ago. “From my own experience I think that it’s a great move to bring back the Under 19 age group cricket,” he said. “I loved it because it provided a stepping stone between junior cricket and the Second XI.
“I played for Somerset in the year that we won the Under 19 County Championship Cup in 2002 in a team that included Luke Stokes, Chris Gange, Alistair Garnsworthy, Gareth Andrew and Mike Parsons, who is working in the Somerset County Sports shop at the Cooper Associates County Ground now, who were all good friends.
“It was a great experience and from there I went onto play for Somerset Seconds and then the First XI. It was good to me so I’m glad to see it back.”