Jason Kerr Backing ‘Fearless’ Somerset To Triumph Over Surrey
Somerset begin their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign against Surrey at the Oval today, determined to play the fearless brand of cricket that delivered a shock one-day win over the same opposition a year ago.
Then, chasing 291 to win at Taunton, Somerset appeared to be down and out at 22-5 inside 7 overs before an astonishing 165* off just 122 balls from Roelof van der Merwe turned the match on its head. With Dean Elgar also making 68, Somerset emerged victors with 37 balls to spare.
Now fate has drawn the two sides against each other again in their opening one-day fixture of 2018 and Somerset head coach Jason Kerr wants his side to be bold again: “The Oval is always a great place to go play cricket. Surrey are a very good side, but we’re excited by that challenge.”
“Last year we looked dead and buried at 22-5 against them and then van der Merwe got 165 to win the match. So, we’ve had very good games against them in recent years and we’ll be looking forward to another one on Friday.”
Somerset will draw confidence from their strong start to this year’s County Championship, something Kerr says will be a boost going into the white ball campaign: “In the dressing room, the guys are confident. We’ve played some really good cricket over the last month. They’ve put a lot into that. Obviously, it’s a change of ball, a change of format, but as cricketers if you’re performing, then you go into whatever game it is confident, so we’re excited for Friday.”
“We’ve got some really exciting players and the depth in the side that’s shaping up for Friday really excites me. We’ll look to play fearless cricket for the guys to enjoy themselves.”
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Somerset have had a good run in the tournament in the past two years, reaching the quarter finals last year and the semis in 2016.
However, Kerr, who has been involved with the club since his playing days in the 1990s, warned: “We’ll take it game by game. The danger is we look too far ahead. One year we got to the final when we lost the first four games, so it’s important that we just concentrate on the Oval and if that goes well we’ll look to build some momentum.”
Captaining the white ball side for the first time is Tom Abell. Just 24, the club invested in him by appointing him Championship skipper last year. Kerr continues to be impressed by his growing maturity and tactical awareness: “He’s growing game by game as a leader, certainly tactically and how he manages the dressing room. I’ve got nothing but praise for him, he gets better and better.”
Abell was not part of Somerset’s one-day plans last year, but Kerr is backing his young captain to succeed in the shorter format: “Two years ago, he was very much part of our 50-over campaign. He scored an outstanding 100 on television against Sussex and he played brilliantly through the middle overs.”
“So, he’s very capable as a one-day batter and that’s part of his all-round game that I want to grow. I’m really excited to see how he does and bat through the middle overs.”
James Hildreth will be a key man with the bat, fresh from scoring 184 against Hampshire last weekend, but Australian side Matt Renshaw is rested after a blistering start to the red ball season.
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The squad will be bolstered by a return to first team cricket for all-rounder Peter Trego whose competitive spirit and big hitting are a natural asset in the white ball game. Johann Myburgh, another destructive one-day batsman, also returns and is likely to open alongside Trego.
Kerr is excited at what the pair offer: “Myburgh has been outstanding at the top of the order in second team cricket, Pete Trego will definitely return to the top of the order. He’s a dynamic cricketer who can win the game certainly with bat or ball.”
Aside from the two veterans, Somerset are also investing in youth with England Under 19 batsman Tom Banton coming into the squad on the back of a sterling run of form.
“He had a very good winter with England U19s,” said Kerr, “and he’s really hit the ground running back at home. He’s scored a double hundred in second team cricket with a century either side of that, so he’s in great form.”
“He’s a very young dynamic player and we’re really excited about how good he could be now and it’s important that we have one eye on the future, so he will come into the squad.”
Somerset’s spin twins Jack Leach and Dom Bess both miss the fixture at the Oval for very different reasons. Leach, who made his England debut in New Zealand during the winter, was expected to earn his second Test cap against Pakistan at Lord’s next week until a cruel injury sustained during practice resulted in a broken thumb. Bess has benefited from his teammate’s misfortune and be called up by England at the age of 20.
Kerr is confident the other spinners in his squad provide plenty of cover.
“Part of our strategy as a club and one of our measures of success is producing players that step up to the international stage. So, we’re really excited for Dom, it’s a fantastic opportunity for him if he gets the nod next week. But also, we’ve got real strength in depth on the staff with spinners, with Roelof van der Merwe as an all-round package and Max Waller who’s been outstanding in T20 cricket for us over the years.”
Meanwhile, Craig Overton, who made his Test debut in the heat of the Ashes battle during the winter, is no stranger to the big stage and will be looking to prove a point after being left out of England’s squad for Lord’s.
Surrey meanwhile come into the one-day tournament on the back of a crushing victory over Yorkshire in which Sam Curran bagged 10 wickets in the match and Ollie Pope scored his second Championship ton of the summer so far. Elgar, who played an important role during that partnership with van der Merwe at Taunton last year, has signed for Surrey this year and will be in the home dressing room at the Oval today.
The hosts will be hoping they can put their 50-over jinx behind them after falling at the final hurdle in each of the last three years.
Somerset: Tom Abell (captain), Tom Banton, Josh Davey, Steve Davies (wicket keeper), Ben Green, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Johann Myburgh, Craig Overton, Peter Trego, Roelof van der Merwe, Max Waller
Surrey: Rory Burns (captain), Gareth Batty, Scott Borthwick, Rikki Clarke, Sam Curran, Jade Dernbach, Dean Elgar, Ben Foakes (wicket keeper), Will Jacks, Stuart Meaker, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope, Freddie van den Bergh
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