Western Daily Press
Future’s looking bright
LEWIS Goldsworthy was just two years old when James Hildreth made his first class debut for Somerset back in 2003.
Last weekend the two players were team-mates in a County Championship match for the first time – and both will have cause to remember the four-wicket victory over Middlesex for many years to come.
While Goldsworthy impressed everyone with scores of 39 and 41 not out, both made with Somerset in trouble, Hildreth went past Bill Alley’s tally of 16,644 to become the fourth highest first class run maker in the club’s history.
What a shame that an absorbing match of such highlights was played in front of empty stands due to Covid. Watching from the temporary pressbox in the Marcus Trescothick Pavilion was a privilege.
The sight of the diminutive Goldsworthy, who looks younger than his 20 years, fearlessly standing up to short balls from 6ft 7ins Steve Finn, a veteran of 36 Test Matches for England, would have warmed the hearts of Somerset supporters.
Entering the area at 98 for four in the first innings, with the deceptive appearance of a schoolboy lost in a dream, the Truro-born youngster, a product of Camborne Cricket Club, was soon pulling Finn savagely through the leg-side.
During his second innings and match-winning partnership with Steve Davies, he produced the shot of the game, a swashbuckling hook off a Finn bouncer that sent the ball speeding to the mid-wicket boundary with the sound of a whip crack.
At a time when Somerset are blessed with many talented young stroke-players, what most impressed me most about Goldsworthy was his patience, sound defensive technique and willingness to work for his runs.
Hildreth was lost in admiration. “Lewis faced tough batting conditions against some really good bowlers, with a bit of drizzle around at times, and was so calm that he didn’t look under pressure at all,” he said.
“He is a really good bloke and a top character. Having scored a shedload of runs in the second XI, he has adapted to the first team like a duck to water.
“I haven’t seen much of Lewis batting. But he came into our T20 team last year and did well.
“More than anything, it is his character and composure, which impresses me. Whether he is bowling spin, as he did very well in T20, or making runs, he is unflappable.
“While you never want to get too excited about young players and build them up too soon, Lewis could not have made a more impressive start.”
Goldsworthy, who first visited the County Ground for coaching at the age of 14, was educated at Millfield School and joined Somerset’s Academy in 2016.
Having represented Cornwall at all levels and England Under-19s, he made his T20 debut against Glamorgan at Cardiff last season, scoring an unbeaten 38 and taking two for 24 from four overs of left-arm spin.
Three more wickets followed in Vitality Blast games against Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire. As when taking on Finn and the wily Tim Murtagh with the willow, there was no hint of fear at bowling to seasoned T20 batsmen looking to launch him out of the ground.
For the always amiable and hugely talented Hildreth, surely the best county batsman never to play for England, there is only one drawback to sharing a dressing room with fresh-faced Goldsworthy.
“It feels like I am getting old,” he told me with a grin before reflecting on the achievement of moving up another place in the ranks of Somerset’s greatest ever run-scorers.
“I love the club and always wanted to score as many runs as possible for Somerset,” he said. “To have got so high in a list of such illustrious names is a good feeling.
“I’m not sure I have enough years left in me to catch Harold Gimblett or Marcus, but I am within a few hundred runs of Peter Wight, so I can realistically target overtaking him.
“If I end up third behind two such great players, I will be more than happy. To have my name forever linked with legends of the club makes me immensely proud.
“I have already made more appearances for Somerset than anyone else and things like that will mean a lot when my playing days are over.”
The Cidermen take on Hampshire at Southampton in their fifth Championship group match, starting today, with Craig Overton, who bowled his heart out against Middlesex, leading wicket-taker in the competition with 25.
Ian Cockbain must have become fed up with being asked the same question after his many brilliant T20
Lewis Goldsworthy in action for Somerset last month
innings for Gloucestershire in recent years. Watching the affable Merseysider and fellow Everton fan plunder runs with an array of dazzling shots in the shortest format of the game always left me somewhat perplexed.
At some point in each post-match interview, I would invariably say: “But don’t you want to be playing red ball cricket too, Ian?”
The answer was always an unequivocal “Yes”. And that makes it all the more remarkable that Cockbain’s match-winning century against Leicestershire at the Bristol County Ground last Sunday was his first in the County Championship since 2014.
If that sounds a damning statistic, bear in mind that Ian only played one Championship game in both 2017 and 2018, and was not selected in red ball cricket at all over the two seasons since.
When he fell lbw for a third-ball duck in the first innings against Leicestershire, it seemed he might
blow the chance of playing Championship cricket again. But second time around Cockbain led an amazing Gloucestershire fightback, hitting 117, including 10 fours and 4 sixes, and sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 224 with Tom Lace.
As important as his boundaries, was the fact that Ian batted for nine minutes short of four hours, facing 179 balls and demonstrating the powers of concentration necessary for four-day cricket.
His part in earning Gloucestershire a third Championship win in four matches, from a seemingly hopeless position, will surely mean further opportunities in the competition, starting against Middlesex at Lord’s today.
Gloucestershire visit the home of cricket sitting proudly at the top of a tough group, testament to the underrated ability of their players and the dressing room spirit, built under Richard Dawson, and now being fostered by astute coaches Ian Harvey and Mark Alleyne.