It’s been a frustrating winter for Tom Abell.
The Somerset Club Captain received his first call up to the England squad for the white-ball series against Bangladesh, but a side injury that he sustained playing for England Lions robbed him of that opportunity.
He began his rehab programme this week and his goal, albeit a cautious one, is to lead his side out against Warwickshire at the Cooper Associates County Ground on April 6th.
“That first game is the goal and I’m obviously desperate to get back playing again,” he said when we spoke to him this week. “But equally I’ve got to be sensible, and I certainly won’t be playing if I’m not fit to do so. I need to be fit to perform. There’s a lot of competition within the group and I’m not going to be any good to anyone if I’m not fit.
“It’s important not to think too far ahead and set any time frames. We’ll just have to see how my rehab goes. The last thing I want is to come back too early because then I could be out for even longer. Ultimately, I’m optimistic but we will just have to wait and see because we don’t know anything definite at the moment.
“I’ve not been doing too much over the last few weeks in order to help let it recover. That’s given me the opportunity to reset. I started rehab this week and it’s good to feel productive again. Hopefully, I can increase that over the next couple of weeks. I’m as excited as anyone about the start of the summer, but I realise that I need to take things step by step. I’m desperate to get back as soon as I can, but it’s difficult to be able to give any kind of time frame at the moment.
“I did it bowling against Sri Lanka, and I knew straight away that there was a problem. I was initially optimistic that it wasn’t going to be too bad, but it was pretty uncomfortable, and it became clear that it was going to be the end of my opportunity in Bangladesh.”
How is Tom staying positive?
“The group of people that I’ve got around me are playing a massive part in that,” he explained. “I can try and help influence things in other ways and be around the group in a different capacity. There’s a huge amount of value in that because I feel like I can have a purpose in other areas. Obviously, being injured is frustrating because you can’t do what you want to do, but I’m excited about what we can achieve as a team.”
Somerset have strengthened the batting line up ahead of the 2023 campaign with the additions of Sean Dickson and Tom Kohler-Cadmore. Where does Tom see himself playing in the Club’s top order?
“I’m just happy to fit in somewhere,” he joked. “We’ve recruited brilliantly this winter and that’s brough a fresh energy and a bit more depth, which leads to healthy competition for places. That’s super exciting because I think the Club will reap the benefit of that and we’ll get the most out of each other.
“There will certainly be some tough decisions to make, but those are really good problems to have and will push us on to better things. There’s plenty of water to go under the bridge before that first County Championship game and everyone will have the opportunity to put their hand up ahead of that fixture. The fact of the matter is that some seriously good players will miss out occasionally and we need to be clear on that as a group. The bottom line is that we all want to win for Somerset. That’s our common goal and that’s the most important thing for us as a group.
“I can’t say at this stage how we’re going to line up, but we’ve got quite a lot of Tom’s in the squad, so if you’re called Tom then you might have a good chance of playing!”
Tom has been genuinely taken aback by the messages of support that he’s received over the last few weeks.
“I’m so grateful for all the well wishes that I’ve received,” he said. “When I got the England call up I received hundreds of incredible messages and that really reinforced to me the level of support that we get and how much it means to people to see Somerset players getting the opportunity to represent England. I was incredibly grateful for all of those.
“Equally, I’ve been helped in getting through the disappointment of missing out on that chance because I’ve had so much support. I’m incredibly grateful because the Somerset family do that better than anyone, and I’ve certainly felt the love and support during this difficult period, so I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to message me.”
The players are currently preparing for the new season in Abu Dhabi, and Tom outlined how the training is going.
“The first few days out here have been great. Unfortunately, I’m not able to do much at the moment, but it’s been good to see the boys go to work. Not being able to be involved is obviously frustrating, but I’m taking things day by day and dealing with what’s in front of me. I’ve started my rehab now and it’s great to be around the guys again and to connect with everyone. The season isn’t too far away now, and this is such an important time for us. There are a few new faces, but everyone has settled in seamlessly and there’s a great vibe around the camp.
“Cricket is a team sport and we’ve developed a culture which sets a precedent for how we go about performing on the pitch. There will obviously be challenges to face throughout the summer, and how we come together as a group will play a huge part in overcoming those challenges. There’s a great energy around the group at the moment and everyone has enjoyed connecting with each other again. From that perspective, this trip is invaluable.
“Everyone has been training really hard over the winter and the way that the boys have been going about their work and implementing what we’ve spoken about as a group is clearly evident. That’s exciting, and the challenge now is to replicate that in games. The key is unlocking our potential individually and as a group.”
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