Somerset’s flying Dutchman Paul van Meekeren has returned early after the summer break in order to prepare for the winter training programme.
We spoke to him at a chilly Cooper Associates County Ground this week and he said: “It’s good to be back here in Taunton but it’s pretty quiet because all of the guys staying in the flats have gone away. It does mean that I can concentrate on my training though. I’m back into the gym and working on some fitness. After the fitness testing at the end of the season I was a little bit behind all of the other guys so I decided to come back early to try and catch up before they come back! I think that the programme that I am following here is more intense and more regular than the Dutch programme I was following.”
What does he think about living in Taunton? “If you are used to Amsterdam or the big cities then its pretty quiet,” he said. “But it gives me a chance for a bit more rest and it doesn’t feel like you have got to rush everywhere. I really like it here but I still sometimes miss the cities with all the tourists and that sort of stuff. Taunton is a real cricket town and everybody loves the game around here. As soon as you walk into the town people talk about cricket. The crowds and supporters we get here are so passionate about it.
“On the last day of the season we were watching the game on the screens in the Stragglers and even though we lost there were so many people here supporting us and watching us which shows just how much cricket is alive in Somerset. The team is going in a great direction which makes me feel very pleased that I have got a two year contract with Somerset.”
What lies ahead for the pacemen? “There are going to be a lot of new challenges ahead for me,” he said. “There are a lot of things to look forward to in the coming months and I can’t wait to get started here.”
After Christmas Paul has got commitments with the Dutch team as he explained: “At this stage I think that there is going to be a T20 tournament in Dubai that Holland is playing in and then there is some cricket in Hong Kong in February, which should be nice. I will be back from that and working here in the gym later in February and then it will be pre-season.”
Looking ahead to the 2017 season Paul said: “It will come around pretty quick. You always think that you have got plenty of time and then it’s here. Obviously I would like to play a bit more for the first team and get into the rotation policy that we have here for the seam bowlers. Rather than just filling in when somebody gets injured I want to be a part of the bowling unit. I would like to play four to six Specsavers County Championship games next year and also a regular amount of NatWest T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup cricket too. The longer I stay here hopefully the more consistent I can become and then get in to the first team.
“I think I have played maybe three or four matches of the longer form of cricket for the Dutch team, a couple with Somerset Seconds and the three day game with Pakistan so it’s pretty new to me and I am still learning every game. However, the more I play in the longer format, the more I’m getting into it and in the Second XI games I had two ‘five-fers’ and a four wicket haul so hopefully I can build on that and get into the first team.”