Steve Kirby is in the Twenty20 form of his life – but, ahead of tonight’s derby with Gloucestershire, the Somerset paceman is wary of the threat posed by two young seamers he once mentored.
Kirby worked closely with Ian Saxelby and David Payne during his time at Nevil Road – and has since seen them develop into dangerous limited-overs bowlers.
Payne claimed the prized wicket of Marcus Trescothick for a second-ball duck in the corresponding fixture last year, while Saxelby has been Gloucestershire’s most economical pace bowler in this season’s Friends Life t20.
The great rivals clash again at Taunton this evening (5.30pm), with table-topping Somerset looking to extend their unbeaten start in the Midlands/Wales/West Group.
Kirby warned: “You can’t take any team for granted in Twenty20 – and they’ve got some powerful cricketers there, some young players with a lot of tenacity and fire in them. I played with them and helped some of them through the academy, so it will be interesting to see how they come up on Friday.
“But I’m very excited about and I know it’s going to be one hell of a game of cricket, because it always is against them.
“David Payne is a fantastically skilful bowler in one-day cricket – he’s shown that – and Sax, a fellow redhead, is another very good bowler.
“They are a decent team and we’re not taking them for granted, but then I’m not particularly interested in what they’re going to bring to the party – it’s about what we do. We’ve got a massive game and we’ve got to keep our momentum.”
Kirby who was not recognised as a 20-over bowler when he arrived at Somerset last year, has shone in the competition this season.
His economy has gradually improved, beginning with 1-27 in the opening game, before taking 0-23, 1-19 and then 2-14 in the seven-wicket win at Northamptonshire on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to speak too soon, because you know what Twenty20’s like – you can go for plenty,” said Kirby. “I’m taking nothing for granted but I’ll keep working hard and, hopefully, I can keep doing my job well.
“I’m just trying to keep a simplistic approach. Alfonso (Thomas) has been very, very helpful – he’s got a great way about him, he captains very well and keeps things very clear and simple.
“I’m enjoying my cricket and I’ve got that real fire back in my belly, which is what you need – the competition is what keeps that. Nobody’s position in the side is taken for granted and everyone knows that – that’s why we’re all working so hard.
“From a personal point of view, I’m just really pleased to be performing to try to stay in this team, because it’s a very powerful side and I want to make sure I’m doing my job. As a team, we’re doing OK – people are standing up to be counted, which is what it’s about.”
Somerset announced yesterday that all tickets for tonight’s game have been sold.
Somerset (from): R Levi, P Trego, K O’Brien, J Buttler (wkt), J Hildreth, A Morkel, N Compton, A Suppiah, A Thomas (capt), G Dockrell, S Kirby, C Meschede, L Gregory.
Worcestershire are hopeful Pakistan paceman Sohail Tanvir can finally link up with the county for their Twenty20 campaign this weekend. They are at Taunton on Sunday.
Follow all the action from tonight's Friends Life t20 match with live updates on This is Somerset from 5pm...