Hussain heads trio asked to fill Willoughby’s boots

Somerset are likely to ask one of their inexperienced bowlers to fill the considerable gap created by Charl Willoughby leaving the club.

Lewis Gregory and Adam Dibble will be leading contenders, having shown immense promise last season, while Gemaal Hussain is hoping to improve on a frustrating first season at Taunton.

Early indications are that the county are not thinking in terms of a new signing to replace Willoughby, who has left by mutual consent after six successful seasons with them.

Director of cricket Brian Rose is currently concentrating his efforts on finding a temporary overseas player to fill in until June 1 when Roelof van der Merwe becomes available.

His choice is more likely to be a batsman or a spin bowler than a seamer as Somerset are anxious not to block a path into the team for their Academy products.

Gregory and Dibble both impressed with limited first team opportunities this summer. Hussain spent part of the campaign on the injured list, but found the step up from second division cricket in the County Championship with Gloucestershire a stern test.

Whoever is asked to fill Willoughby’s boots faces a tough ask. After signing from Leicestershire for the 2006 season, the consistent South African left-armer played in 95 first-class matches for Somerset, taking 347 wickets at a cost of 27.49 runs each.

His best return was in 2006 when he took 7 for 44 against Gloucestershire at the County Ground and his outstanding fitness record allowed him to pass 50 first-class wickets in all of his six seasons with Somerset.

Rose said: “Charl has been a key member of our team since he joined us in 2006. His record in Championship games, in particular, has been outstanding and his partnership in 2007 with Andrew Caddick was the major reason the team gained promotion that year and laid the foundation for future success.

“Charl has been a model professional in terms of preparation, fitness and attitude and has been an inspiration to our younger bowlers, consistently advising them on their skills and technique.

“He will leave a great legacy. We wish him and his family all the best for their future. They will always find a home and the best of welcomes in Somerset.”

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