Incumbent England spin bowler Dom Bess is set to leave Somerset… but why would any other county sign him?
Well, presumably because they don’t expect him to be England’s number one spinner in the long term. I mean, what is the point of signing an England player, one who will rarely be available? Of course, if Bess’ Somerset teammate Jack Leach were to displace him for England, then Bess may, ironically, have been better staying at Somerset.
Leach is the better bowler but as technically and occasionally heroically correct as he is with the bat, Bess offers a more all-round package. That said, Bess has been extremely unfortunate not to return healthier figures this summer.
Yorkshire may seem a logical move for Bess. He has already represented the county on loan however the white rose county have youngsters Jack Shutt and James Logan on their books. It would be a shame if they followed the path of Karl Carver and Azeem Rafiq. Both players could’ve been backed a bit more but ultimately departed Headingley with their careers unfulfilled.
Bess should be a good player in white-ball cricket and I’ve always thought that Leach, who has never played a T20, could do well in the format. I mean Matthew Renshaw has been known to open the bowling in the Big Bash!
Ultimately there is healthy competition for England places and that is what is prompting this move. Gone are the days of a static county market. Players are transferring all the time, whether permanently or temporarily and it’s getting harder to keep up.
After commencing the County Championship with a comprehensive win, we struggled to clinch more victories. Our batting was generally strong but a little slow and it was often when attempting to up the tempo and push for victory that we opened the door for our visitors to snatch the result away from us. Our bowlers struggled a little in the first half of the campaign too.
We won two out of our last three matches however to preserve our division one status. Off-spinner Jack Shutt (6-50) bowled us to victory against neighbours Lancashire and then made 44 not out alongside wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall (84*) to see us over the line against Hampshire when under huge pressure. Despite losing against Surrey in our final game, we survived!
The less said about our One-Day campaign the better. We were without as many as ten players due to England call-ups/franchise gigs but many of our youngsters gained experience. Teenage opener James Wharton (146) did at least register a maiden century while signing Matt Coles excelled when bowling at the death.
Though our T20 campaign was also ultimately fruitless, we did improve as the competition went on. Matthew Waite was a revelation with the ball.
Adam Lyth finished the County Championship with a competition topping 1573 runs including a top score of 199*. Jack Shutt’s aforementioned 6-50 against Lancashire was our best bowling effort whilst Ben Coad concluded the season well to top the club charts with 40 wickets.
Opener Will Fraine seized his opportunity due to numerous injuries/absences to clock up 380 runs in the fifty-over format. Matt Coles claimed a club best 12 wickets with a best of 6-36.
In the T20 format Tom Kohler-Cadmore registered an impressive 440 runs (And would earn an England ODI call-up) meanwhile Dawid Malan found form to make a high score of 110. Again Matt Coles excelled in white-ball cricket (That’s why we bought him!), claiming best figures of 5-22 but the effective Matthew Waite topped the club efforts with 15 wickets.
First Class captain Steven Patterson has retired and frustratingly talks with Toby Roland-Jones broke down. He opted to make the short move from Middlesex to Surrey instead. We would’ve like to have signed Chris Rushworth from northern neighbours Durham or re-sign Ben Sanderson but whilst we were failing to negotiate with Roland-Jones those players signed elsewhere. Jamie Overton was another who slipped by. 26-year-old Australia Nathan Ellis will therefore join us for 2021.
The 2020 County Championship isn’t how anybody expected it to be but that appears to be to the benefit of young cricketers up and down the country.
With a shortened campaign, many players away with multiple England squads and no threat of relegation, a number of unfamiliar names appear on scorecards on the opening day of the season. Whether it’s the likes of Ben Aitchison at Derbyshire, Durham’s David Bedingham or Lancashire’s Tom Hartley, it’s great to see. Feroze Khushi at Essex and Tom Lammonby at Somerset are also getting game time, as is Saif Zaib, so often on the fringes, at Northamptonshire.
I’m delighted that Harry Brook and Jack Shutt are featuring for Yorkshire and Haseeb Hameed has made an encouraging start to life at Nottinghamshire. This can only be good for English cricket. Whilst it may be the result of societal dark times and overseas contracts unable to be fulfilled, the next couple of months present a fantastic opportunity for young English cricketers.