2016 was a big year for Ryan Davies.
The 19 year old, who joined the Club from Kent just over a year ago, impressed with his keeping in his first season with Somerset and also scored some important runs in the second half of the season.
How does he think his first season at Somerset went? “It went very well,” he said. “It went a lot better than I expected it to if I’m honest. I was really happy with the way that I kept and towards the back end of the season my batting really picked up and I think I finally got to grips with what you need to do to succeed at this level. I always said that the first year would be a learning year and then the plan is for me to take what I’ve learned this season and kick on in 2017.”
Ryan explained why his batting improved towards the end of the year. “I think that I just worked out that I had more time than I thought,” he said. “At the start of the season I was thinking that I had to score runs quickly but I actually realised that you have a lot of time. You don’t need to rush. You can be reserved and take your time. The thing that helped me most was just really narrowing my game down. I concentrated on using my shots and if the ball came in to my area, I played at it. That’s probably the main thing that I changed from the first half of the season because I was a little bit rushed and maybe a bit frantic. I then tried to be a bit more calm and relaxed. One moment that stands out for me was a conversation I had with Hildy one morning. It was raining and he suggested that I go for a hit. Before I came here I was very stubborn with my own methods in terms of how I go about things and I didn’t usually hit in the mornings. After that day I think I went for a hit on every morning of a game and I think that really helped me as the season went on.”
Ryan has been at Somerset for a year now but was it easy to join a new club at such a young age? “I settled in very quickly,” he said. “I was made to feel really welcome. The group of lads all get on and there’s always some really good banter. Anyone can talk to anyone else and that’s really important. Marcus was brilliant with me and I chatted to him a lot. He has been the biggest influence on me since I arrived. Just watching how he works and how he trains is brilliant. He’s 40 and he still trains and works incredibly hard all the time. That’s why he has achieved all that he has in the game.”
As a 19 year old coming to a new county did Ryan feel the pressure of becoming first choice ‘keeper? “I like to think that I’m the kind of player who thrives on pressure,” he said. “I got a little bit of stick from some people at one point but that just motivated me. I’m the first person to hold my hand up and say that I’m not doing as well as I could and that’s why I changed and adapted.”
Will he feel added pressure now that Steve Davies is joining the Club? “Knowing that you’ve got to take yourself to the next level is exciting,” he said. “Steve is a proper player! He’s played for England and scored over a thousand First Class runs loads of times in his career so hopefully that competition for places will bring the best out in me.”
It was a good year for Somerset and Ryan explained that he feels extremely proud of what the Club achieved in 2016. “To achieve what we did this year with a relatively young group of players is incredible. We were a few overs away from being County Champions and when you put that in to perspective, we could go on to achieve something really special with this group. When I first spoke with Matt Maynard he talked about a long term project but the way we played this year has made us all really proud. Hopefully we can go one better next year and bring it home.”
Ryan has been impressed by the Somerset Members and supporters this year. “The support that the Club gets is unbelievable,” he said. “Playing in front of so many passionate fans is the sort of thing you dream about when you’re growing up. My first NatWest T20 Blast night here was incredible. To walk out here in front of a full house is amazing. It’s like an International atmosphere and that is something very special. I know quite a few of the Members now and it’s always nice to bump in to them in town and say hello. I don’t really know too many people down here outside of cricket so it’s nice to be able to see people you know and have a chat.”
Ryan has also been involved in some of the Club’s Community Engagement activities this year as he explained: “I’ve enjoyed that side of things especially going to Selworthy School. That was brilliant. It was a little overwhelming to start with but once I got to spend some time with the kids it was a really rewarding day.”
What does Ryan hope to achieve with Somerset in 2017? “I think that next season we can go to the next level and reach the Final of the Royal London One-Day Cup,” he said. “Hopefully by then we will have the Championship sewn up too so that we don’t have to go through that last day pressure all over again!”