TO see both Kasey Aldridge and Ned Leonard included in the team to play against Hampshire in the LV=Championship opener will have come as no surprise to Steve Kirby, the Somerset CCC bowling coach, writes Richard Walsh.

Since returning to the Cooper Associates County Ground as bowling coach in 2020 Kirby has spent a lot of his time working with the young and developing pace men at the club and is certainly most impressed by the talent that is coming through.

During the course of the final pre-season match against Warwickshire the bowling coach talked about some of the young pace men.

“I’m incredibly excited by the young fast bowlers I am working with and they are a fantastic bunch. All credit to Steve Snell who did a wonderful job and to the club in being able to produce some amazing talents through the Academy.

“I know that they have got the ability and talent but for me it’s more about their character and my job now is to help them transition into a professional cricket. It’s a lot easier when they have got a good basis to start with and that is what Sonny Baker, Ned Leonard and Kasey Aldridge to name three have certainly all got.”

The bowling coach then went on to chat about each in turn.

“Ned Leonard had a good first year on the staff in 2021 and took a lot of wickets in Second XI cricket. He bowled relatively well but for me it was about getting him to be more efficient. We have worked so hard on his running mechanics which is helping him to become more efficient at the crease. We have also worked specifically on a few areas of his action to just help him become more efficient.

"Kasey Aldridge is another brilliant character and a fit strong lad. Again we have tightened his action up and we are trying to make him a little bit more side on now. Having watched him bowl in pre-season he has gained another yard and half of pace. He is a very tall lad and gets bounce which with his shape away makes him a very handy customer for us to have in the line up. I am very excited about him too.

“Sonny Baker has had a really tough winter because he has struggled with a stress fracture in his back and missed out on the Under 19 World Cup which he will have been really sad about. However he has done really well and his attitude is great- he is so positive and that is his character coming out."

Kirby added: “Although I will be spending time with the lads in the first team I will be spending a lot of time with the second team helping to try to get them to understand what the lives are to get them into the first team.”

Words by Richard Walsh, sports reporter.