Tom Abell is highly regarded at Somerset and will captain the Championship side in 2017 © Getty Images
Somerset have named Tom Abell as their Championship captain for 2017. Abell, who replaces Chris Rogers after the Australian’s retirement, will be 23 by the time the season starts, making him one of the youngest captains on the county circuit. Jim Allenby, meanwhile, will continue to lead the club in T20 and 50-over cricket.
The veteran Rogers enjoyed a successful one-off campaign with Somerset in his final season as a professional, seeing them narrowly miss out on a maiden Championship title on the last day. His replacement could not be more of a contrast, in terms of experience: Abell, a former Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year, made his first-class debut in 2014 and has only played 32 matches.
In 2016, his returns dipped to 538 runs at 25.61 and he will now have to balance opening the batting with an even greater workload – although he will have experienced heads, such as fellow opener and former captain Marcus Trescothick, to help him learn the ropes.
“I feel hugely privileged and humbled to be made captain of Somerset County Cricket Club,” Abell said. “To have the opportunity to play for Somerset was a dream for me so to captain the club is something incredibly special.
“To follow on from some of the previous captains of the club who are listed on the honours board in the pavilion is an incredible feeling and something that I don’t think will sink in for a while. After such an exciting and successful 2016 campaign, I hope we can build on what we created and bring further success next season.”
Abell’s age need not be a barrier to success, with Somerset’s director of cricket, Matthew Maynard, citing the example of South Africa’s Graeme Smith, who took charge of his country at 22. In county cricket, 22-year-old Alex Lees captained Yorkshire in limited-overs cricket last year – though he has since stood down – while Rory Hamilton-Brown was the same age when he became Surrey’s youngest captain in a century in 2010.
“People will no doubt point out Tom’s age but that doesn’t come in to it,” Maynard said. “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough and Tom is certainly good enough. Anyone who has spent any time in his company knows that his knowledge and understanding of the game are outstanding. He has an old head on those young shoulders and he is held in very high regard by his teammates.
“He is the epitome of what this club is all about both on and off the field. His temperament and attitude are beyond reproach and there is no doubt in my mind that he will be an excellent captain for this club not just in 2017 but in the years to come.”
Allenby has been an occasionally divisive figure since his arrival from Glamorgan in 2014 but last year he led Somerset to the semi-final of the Royal London Cup. They did, however, also finish bottom of the NatWest T20 Blast South Group.
“To be captain of this club is a real honour and I am delighted to be doing the job,” he said. “I think that we’ve built something pretty special in the 50-over competition. We were so close to a Lord’s final and I see no reason why we can’t go one better next year. There is a really talented group of players here and I am excited to see just what we can achieve together.”
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo