James Rew by Vic Marks

The end of season dinner was another polished, glitzy affair despite one of the hosts ensuring that his crutches were never too far away and it was enhanced this year by the presence of the players of Western Storm. Everyone enjoyed themselves hugely. But it was a challenging experience for two of Somerset’s favourite sons, Peter Trego and James Rew.

There were a lot of awards this year and it felt as if most of them were won by Rew. The plan was for Trego, now as comfortable with a microphone in his hand as he once was holding a bat and ball, to interview the award winners on the stage. By the time Rew surfaced for a fourth time they were running out of topics of conversation. I think they turned to golf in the end. Rew (inevitably) plays off a handicap of two, which allowed Trego (off scratch) to offer him a few tips in that department. Both handled an odd situation very impressively.

Rew has had an astonishing start to his career and I struggle to find a parallel, such was the consistency of his batting in his first full year as a first team player. He does not quite fit the identikit of a young player of the 2020s. We now expect firebrands, who can clear the boundaries at will with an array of attacking shots old and new. But they give little thought to defending their wickets.

Rew has revealed that he has all the shots but he uses them with discretion. In a manner that would have impressed coaches of old he takes his time upon arrival at the crease, confident in his defensive technique. Only when settled do the shots flow. Such patience is a rarity among young players of today. Too often in 2023 he was taking guard after the fall of four quick wickets, which allowed him to display a superb temperament.

One innings, an obvious one to mention, is his 221 against Hampshire at Taunton last July, which highlighted so many of his qualities. He arrived at the crease at 41 for four and took plenty of time to bed himself in. Soon it was 80 for five but he would find a spirited ally in Kasey Aldridge. Rew’s half-century took 105 balls; he trusted himself to play the long game and he trusted his partner. The following day this pair accelerated but in a calculated manner. I noted that Rew opted to play his first reverse sweep on 147. Only in the last half hour of an innings that occupied seven hours and 42 minutes did he play any flippant shots.

It was a remarkable tour de force, but given how well he had batted earlier in the season not a massive surprise. His 2023 season will be a hard act to follow and us onlookers should not be too greedy.

Oh and he keeps wicket as well. I watched quite a lot of Somerset’s Championship campaign last summer and I barely noticed him behind the stumps, a very good sign.