That is the rhyme that Somerset children have been taught in their cradles ever since the Cidermen entered the County Championship in 1891. Can this be the year that Somerset become Champion County at last? If the likes of Harold Gimblett, Arthur Wellard, Ian Botham, Viv Richards and Joel Garner were not good enough to deliver the Trophy in their eras, can the current squad pull it off?
Their opponents at the Cooper Associates County Ground this week, Warwickshire, have claimed the title eight times, most recently in 2021. But both counties battled against relegation last year, Warwickshire only avoiding the drop in the dying seconds of the season. So, understandably and realistically, both teams will be hoping for better this time round.
Both counties have moved to strengthen their squads.
Somerset have persuaded top order batters Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Sean Dickson to move from Yorkshire and Durham respectively. They also have Australian Cameron Bancroft in place for the first four games, so last season’s batting wobbles are less likely.
Warwickshire have added to their formidable array of quick bowlers by signing Chris Rushworth from Durham as well as bringing in Hassan Ali as their overseas player. They have also recruited all-rounder Ed Barnard from neighbours Worcestershire. But they, too, had a flaky top order last year; and the loss of Dom Sibley to Surrey can only have exacerbated that problem.
Somerset, will be hoping that Australian Cameron Bancroft will make a strong impact. His sandpaper days are long behind him; but he has a mixed record in English conditions. He failed to deliver for Australia in the 2019 Ashes series though has performed usefully for both Durham and Gloucestershire. He may not be the most exciting batter to watch but no-one doubts his powers of concentration, which will be needed against the Warwickshire pace attack.
A man with over 600 first class wickets to his name does not have a lot to prove. But Chris Rushworth does have to quell the doubters who reckon that moving counties at almost 37 years of age is too big a challenge. He will be out to show that he still has a few more effective spells and wickets in him before he eventually hangs up his boots.
Somerset will almost certainly be without their captain, Tom Abell, who is recovering from a side strain. Tom Banton is also injured. Jack Leach is likely to be available, as is Australian Peter Siddle.
Somerset squad: tbc
Warwickshire will be without Chris Woakes. Hassan Ali has arrived in the country and is in the squad. Liam Norwell, the Bears’ last day saviour in 2022, has yet another injury and is out of the squad. Otherwise, the Bears have a full squad available for selection.
Warwickshire squad: Will Rhodes (c), Hassan Ali, Ed Barnard, Jacob Bethell, Chris Benjamin, Henry Brookes, Michael Burgess, Alex Davies, Sam Hain, Olly Hannon-Dalby, Dan Mousley, Chris Rushworth, Rob Yates
Weather and Conditions
Wonderful to relate, we are promised four fine days. Temperatures may struggle to reach the mid-teens but no rain is forecast. As for the pitch, the record March rainfall which left the outfield flooded only last week must have hampered preparations so we shall have to wait and see.
Date: 6-9 April 2023
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton