Coach Kerr wants Somerset to prove point in Lord’s final

PUBLISHED: 15:31 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:31 21 September 2020

Somerset captain Tom Abell (centre) next to Jason Kerr at the County Ground, Taunton.

Somerset captain Tom Abell (centre) next to Jason Kerr at the County Ground, Taunton.

PA Archive/PA Images

Jason Kerr will challenge his Somerset team to prove themselves the best red-ball team in the country this week.

The Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s, starting on Wednesday, will see Kerr’s men face Essex, the club who pipped them to the County Championship title last year, in a five-day fixture.

And the head coach believes that, even with a weakened batting line-up, Somerset have what it takes to turn the tables on the champions and atone for the bitter disappointment of failing to make the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.

Kerr said: “The best two teams in the country have reached the Bob Willis final and if we continue to play the brand of cricket we produced in the group stage of the competition we can come out on top.

“As things stand, Essex are the number one red-ball team and we are number two. It would be great to reverse those standings and that is the aim.”

It is well documented that Somerset have never won the County Championship. But their form in the Bob Willis Trophy suggests they would have mounted a strong challenge this summer, but for Covid-19.

Four victories from five matches made them the highest points scorers from the three groups. And it would have been five wins out of five had the weather not come to Warwickshire’s rescue at Edgbaston.

With James Hildreth still nursing a hamstring injury, Tom Banton having left for the Indian Premier League and Babar Azam returning to Pakistan this week, Somerset will need to call on some of their developing young batsmen to counter a strong Essex bowling attack.

Tom Lammonby, Eddie Byrom, George Bartlett and Ben Green featured in the group matches, while teenager Will Smeed produced a brilliant innings of 82 in the Vitality Blast clash with Gloucestershire at Taunton.

Kerr added: “I believe we have improved on our skills from last season, not least through the emergence of some really exciting youngsters and I am really looking forward to the game.

“The prospect of seeing how they perform against a side as good as Essex with a trophy at stake is incredibly exciting for me as a coach. We will take a squad of 13 to Lord’s and make a final selection on Wednesday morning.”

Kerr admits to “huge disappointment” over failing to reach the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast, a last-ball defeat by arch-rivals Gloucestershire at Bristol on Sunday knocking them out.

“We were as committed to winning the Blast as we are to lifting the Bob Willis Trophy,” he said. “But we were not consistent enough over the course of the competition.

“There had to be team changes because we had players missing, But that created opportunities for the likes of Tom Lammonby, Will Smeed. Ollie Sale and Lewis Goldsworthy.

“When you lose a player of James Hildreth’s quality it is bound to make a difference. But it gave us a chance to bat Will Smeed at number three, a role we see him filling in future years, and he came up with an innings of great maturity for one so young.

“We have also been able to see what pressure does to young players. Sometimes they learn more from failure than doing well.

“It is very frustrating to be out of the Blast, but we have learned a huge amount to take into next season.”

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