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Somerset’s shortcomings a thing of the past for optimistic Josh Davey

Somerset all-rounder Josh Davey

Somerset paceman Josh Davey believes the hoodoo of second place finishes have been exorcised from a team he now deems capable of bringing more silverware to Taunton.

Five times in the County Championship since 2010, plus a couple more occasions in each of T20 and one-day competitions have Somerset been left questioning the trials of their past which brought on such rotten karma.

But the tide is turning. Last year it all changed: Somerset won. The Royal London One-Day Cup was secured at Lord’s against holders Hampshire, forgoing any anxieties to reach their target with more than six overs remaining.

And paceman Davey – who bagged 14 wickets in the tournament, including a pair in the final – believes the Somerset is on the verge of something big.

“I think we won the most games across all formats in England out of any side last year,” he said.

“The group of players we’ve got is really strong and it really drives competition for places.

“We are pushing in all three formats and the core group are hitting their peak as cricketers.

“We are in a good position as a squad to push for the Championship and so it’s really frustrating that this year that has been taken away and we aren’t going to have the opportunity.

“But I think next year we will still be in as strong a place with the group of players we’ve got.”

Somerset’s triumph over Hampshire at the Home of Cricket is likely to be the last of its kind.

The Gillette Cup first appeared on the scene back in 1963 as a reaction to dwindling attendances in first-class cricket.

Ever since the one-day final at Lord’s has been one of the highlights of the domestic season.

The tournament was straight knockout until 2009, before group stages were introduced in 2010.

Only Glamorgan and Leicestershire failed to lift the trophy in that time, and that is set to remain the case following the introduction of the Hundred.

In a somewhat strange move given the England team’s recent success in 50 over cricket, the one-day cup will run alongside the ECB’s new flagship competition, meaning many of the best county players will be unavailable for duty in 2021.

And Davey has revealed his disappointed at how the tournament has been devalued.

“It’s a bit strange and I didn’t really like the way of it going to be pigeon holed as a secondary competition, although they (the ECB) then tried to retract their comments.

“It’s so good having a one-day final at Lord’s.

“I tore my quad in the second over last year but got through it on the adrenaline and the buzz of Lords. It’s still one of the highlights of my career – a brilliant day.

“As a domestic player it doesn’t get much better than a final at Lords.”

Glory days: Somerset lift the One-Day Cup trophy at Lord’s in May 2019. PA Images

It’s been six years now since Davey packed his bags and headed to the west country.

A far cry from London life in his previous jaunt with Middlesex, he has settled in the area and is set to remain in TA1 until at least the end of the 2022 season.

The contract extension he signed over the winter was a reward for rapid progress over the last few seasons. But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the bowling all-rounder.

“When I got released from Middlesex back in 2013 I naively thought there would be a few counties interested in picking me up and there wasn’t,” admitted Davey, present in all six of Scotland’s 2015 Cricket World Cup matches.

“It was quite an awakening – it gave me a kick up the backside to get going and I realised “you’re not as good as you think you are”.

“Trialling in cricket isn’t the easiest and it can be difficult going into an environment and getting to know the players around you.

“There were times in 2013 where I thought I could be on the way out.”

“Then I was given a bit of a lifeline by Somerset as I was allowed to train through the 2014 winter.

“That helped me get to know the guys and so was an easier transition once you perform well on the pitch to become part of the squad.”

With domestic cricket set to return competitively in early August, one thing conspicuous by its absence will be the crowd.

While many joke that four-day cricket is itself social distancing so sparse is the attendance, that’s not the case at Somerset.

In fact, it’s not unusual for a few thousand to pass through the turnstiles on the opening day of a Championship clash.

And Davey admits that an empty ground could make it feel more like second team game at first.

“It’s probably the best place in the country to play four-day games in front of the home crowd so it’s going to be different with no one there, he added.

“There’s always that buzz around the ground so it will a bit surreal.

“It probably won’t feel like a first team game – more like a second team game – but it’s something we are going to have to get used to quickly.

“You’ve just got to get on with it. You’ve got to get yourself up for the important games and its always important playing in the first team.”

From a cricketing perspective, perhaps the biggest victim of the current pandemic is almost certain to be this year’s T20 World Cup.

The tournament currently remains scheduled to take place in Australia come October, but appears inevitable to be postponed.

Such news will be particularly disappointing for Davey, who was set to board a plane Down Under to represent Scotland the second major tournament of his international career.

Saltire swag: Josh Davey in action for Scotland in 2010. Lynne Cameron/PA

Having successfully negotiated their way through the qualifying tournament in the UAE last winter, the Saltires had earned a spot in the first round of the main event.

Davey chipped in 10 wickets from just seven matches, and would have fancied himself against the likes of Bangladesh, Namibia and the Netherlands.

With two teams progressing to the Super 12s, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine Scotland going a step further than they did in India back in 2016 and qualifying from their group.

But for the time being those dreams will have to be put on hold and it’s not just that tournament cricket fans from north of the border have been deprived off.

“It’s so disappointing because we were building towards the World Cup coming up with a T20 against Australia, and a one-dayer and T20 against New Zealand, all of which have been lost as well.

“It’s frustrating not to get those games and test yourself against the best in the world.

“Doing well against Australia or New Zealand in a T20 is only really going to help the cause.

“You don’t get to play the top nations that often so it is disappointing, although I think hammered down that day!

“It’s a shame we didn’t get to play them but hopefully the World Cup will happen at some point, whether they push it back to the end of the Australian summer or we have to wait another year.”

SAM DALLING

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