Hildreth ready to end silverware hunt
James Hildreth insists Somerset are determined to win this year’s Friends Life t20 after agonisingly finishing runners-up last season.
Somerset were the stand-out team in last season’s Twenty20 competition but, despite tying the final with Hampshire at the Rose Bowl, were defeated after losing one more wicket than Dominic Cork’s side.
This campaign has seen Marcus Trescothick’s team rewarded for finishing fourth in the South Group with a tough trip to the North Group winners Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
After Somerset were also pipped to the LV= County Championship title by Notts and defeated by Warwickshire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 final last term, Milton Keynes-born Hildreth is more hungrier than ever to get his hands on a trophy.
“Obviously being runners-up in all the competitions definitely gives you that hunger,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“You’re standing there watching the other team picking up the trophy thinking we were so close so there’s definitely that extra hunger to go one step further this year.”
Somerset’s hopes of earning a quarter-final at Taunton were disrupted by four postponements, a defeat to local rivals Gloucestershire and a tie against struggling Middlesex.
However, despite not securing a home quarter-final, an upbeat Hildreth believes his side will not be at a disadvantage.
“You have always got to try and aim for a home quarter-final,” he said.
“We played pretty well at Taunton but, not just from a cricketing point of view, financially it benefits the club if you get the home quarter-final as well.
“We were disappointed not to get that but the track at Notts is always pretty good and we know their ground pretty well so we’re not in any way disadvantaged by playing at Notts.”
On their way to the final last year, Somerset defeated Notts in the semi-finals and Hildreth is hoping to repeat that result tomorrow.
“We played Notts in the semi-final last year and we’re just trying to replicate the success we had against them last year,” he added.
“They are a really good team in the Twenty20 competition this year. It’s two pretty strong teams and I think it will be quite an exciting game.”
Notts took the North Group by storm, winning 11 of their 16 matches, and the 26-year-old knows Somerset face a real test at Trent Bridge.
“They’re a really good team. They have played some really good Twenty20 cricket and have got some good, exciting young players and experienced Twenty20 campaigners and they are pretty well organised,” he said.
“Same with us, we have obviously got a decent team and played some decent Twenty20 cricket over a few years now so it will be a good game.”
Hildreth scored 303 runs in 13 matches at an average of 33.66 during the group stages, with a highest score of 64 not out from 29 balls in the victory over Essex.
Although he is pleased with his form in the shortest format, he appreciates it is a team game.
“I hit them alright; I contributed in a few games so it was good,” he said. “We had various people standing up at different times and putting their hand up and contributing. It’s been part of our success as a team that everyone’s contributed at some point.”
Somerset are boosted by the return of Alfonso Thomas, who was the highest wicket-taker in last season’s Twenty20 competition with 33 victims.
Thomas' appearances have been limited in 2011 due to Indian Premier League commitments and injury but, after returning figures of 10-88 in the four-day victory over Sussex, Hildreth admits his inclusion is a huge bonus.
“It’s a massive boost. He’s just had a really good championship game, getting 10 wickets in the match,” he said.
“Having him and Murali Kartik in the team as well is brilliant. Thommo is a brilliant Twenty20 bowler so it’s a great asset for us.”