SOMERSET’S director of cricket Andy Hurry has praised his players for the creative way they have responded to the Covid-19 emergency.

Hurry is keen to accentuate the positives during the huge frustration of not being able to embark on a season he had good cause to view with enormous optimism.

Hurry believes that, thanks to a Professional Cricketers’ Association initiative encouraging members to develop new skills while on furlough, his squad will emerge from the pandemic as more rounded individuals, better prepared for life after cricket.

And he has also been impressed by the response from players to being unable to train as a group since lockdown was introduced.

Hurry said: “We have been checking regularly on how each player is coping with the challenges Covid-19 and lockdown present, and I have been really happy with what we have learned.

“Some have had exercise equipment installed in their homes and many are taking the opportunity to enrol on courses or finding other ways to broaden their skills outside of cricket.

“The PCA have been very proactive in suggesting how players can make best use of their time and it reflects what is going on throughout the country.

“We have to make the best of a difficult situation, and it is a time for alert minds.”

It was a hugely productive winter for a number of Somerset’s players, with Tom Abell, Tom Banton, Dom Bess, Lewis Gregory, Jack Leach and Craig Overton all selected for England and/or the England Lions.

Hurry said: “While we are always confident going into a new season, there was special cause for optimism this year.

“Our developing players are a year older, and a number have boosted their experience at international level.

“That only made having to cancel our pre-season trip to Abu Dhabi the more disappointing.

“We then put a plan in place for the squad to be split into two, with each group coming in on alternate days. But before we could implement that the lockdown was put in place.

“While we all hope there will be international cricket before too long and a shortened county programme to follow, there are no guarantees.

He added: “The health and safety of players, staff and spectators has to remain paramount.”