County Preview: Big Year Ahead for Tom Lammonby

Sometimes we tend to get just a little bit carried away. I try to avoid the pitfalls of reading too much into a small sample size, but when it comes to the England test team, it's hard to not get excited about the prospect of a stylish opener breaking through.

Somerset's Tom Lammonby is just 20 years of age, and he's just 6 games into his first-class career. However, in those six games, the left-hand opener has hit three centuries, one each against Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the current champions Essex. All this has led to a 51 average and a hype train that's starting to chug out of the station.

Tom's been around the T20 game consistently since breaking through into the Somerset side against Kent in Canterbury back in 2019, and while he had some success, it was his first-class performances that first got our attention.

It was his 116 against Essex which showcased his range of shots, from his developed leg-side game to his ever-evolving punch down the ground or sweetly timed pull shot. He paddle swept Simon Harmer to negate the South African's wicked spin, and played the Essex pacers with patient aggression which kept the scoreboard ticking over. It was a magnificent Lords inning that had you dreaming of him doing the same thing but in the England whites.

After Marcus Trescothick retired at the end of the 2019 season, there was a void that needed to be filled, and despite him not making his debut until August, Tom showed the ability to fill the role with aplomb. The 2020 season was a shortened affair due to the current pandemic, and the key will be to see if he can maintain his consistent form through a full season. I don't think anyone expects him to average over 50, but at the same time his ability to score to all fields means you can't rule it out.

Earlier this off-season Lammondy extended his Somerset contract until 2023, with the Taunton club keen to lock down one of the most promising batsmen in the game

"I’m honoured to have signed a contract extension with the club that I supported throughout my childhood and still support now," he said.
"It’s great to have the opportunity to play for a club alongside people that I’ve looked up to for 20 years. I’m very excited to see what the next few years will hold.
"2020 was obviously a very strange year, but it’s one that I will definitely look back on with a lot of pride. It was a bit of a surprise to play last year, so to get my opportunity and to then make the most of it was really pleasing.
"Hopefully, that will continue, and we can keep winning games of cricket down here in Taunton and keep pushing for titles and silverware."

I don't think anyone expected Tom to be opening the batting for Somerset so early in his career, and the man himself said as much last year, however, with the pandemic turning the best-laid plans on their head, the Exeter man was given an opportunity and he never looked back. Had James Hildreth been available, had Matthew Wade been able to travel, had Tom Banton been available for red-ball cricket, we may not have seen Tom in the first place.

His performance against Worcestershire showcased both sides of Lammonby's game, 45 off 124 balls as wickets tumbled around him, and then 62 off 96 to accelerate the scoring with the tail to put Somerset in a commanding position, it was largely due to Tom's knock that Somerset made the Bob Willis Trophy final. During that game against Worcestershire, Lammonby became the youngest Somerset player to carry his bat in first-class history, when you consider the long proud history of Somerset, and think back to the players that have plied their trade at Taunton, that's quite the achievement.

It's hard not to be impressed when you sit back and watch Tom, he has a range of shots that are well developed and aesthetically his shots are very enjoyable to watch, his punch down the ground could be directly lifted from a coaching manual.

It will be interesting to see if Lammonby stays as an opening batsman, last year he admitted that he saw himself as more of a middle-order bat, while admitting that "opening is going well". It's too early to be talking about Tom in relation to an England call-up, but I'd say that pushing to remain an opener may not be the worst idea. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have done admirably, but neither have cemented their place beyond reasonable doubt, and there aren't a lot of young English openers pushing for selection.

It'll be interesting to see if the Lions are able to secure any fixtures this year, as a Lions tour is usually the first step to senior recognition. Dan Lawrence is reaping the benefits of an outstanding Lions tour to Australia right now, having made his England debut in the sub-continent.

This is a big year for Tom and I can't wait to see how he does. He has all the tools to become a very good opening batsman and a mainstay for Somerset for the next decade, and dare I say for England as well. We can't get too carried away, but we can enjoy the journey.

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