James Hildreth has put pen to paper on a new deal with Somerset, according to BBC Sport.
Hildreth has committed his future to the Taunton outfit until the end of 2017, and the former England Lions skipper has been rewarded for a long spell with the county that has seen him surpass 11,000 first-class runs already.
The 29-year-old batsman has been the lynch-pin of Somerset’s middle-order for a number of years, and his loyalty is only rivalled by captain Marcus Trescothick. Hildreth made his debut in 2003 and has now played 175 matches.
Their most recent fixture against Warwickshire was sabotaged by the rain, a result that will have been particularly disappointing for Hildreth, considering his personal contribution. He top-scored in the first innings, hitting just two shy of a century. Trescothick had already scored 53 and Nick Compton 92 in what was a very strong batting display by Somerset.
Hildreth has often been linked with a call-up to the England side, having represented the Lions, the England Performance Programme, and England under-19s and under-15s. A breakthrough to the senior side has, however, remained elusive.
Somerset director of cricket Dave Nosworthy has spoken of his delight at Hildreth’s new contract, describing him as a: “quality player and person who sincerely has the club and the team at heart”.
That comes after Hildreth was made vice-captain for the 2014 season, which if anything was something he was forced to settle for; during close-season, Trescothick faced numerous calls to relinquish his captaincy after the 37-year-old struggled for the whole of last year, not scoring a single century for the first time since 1998.
Former Somerset bowler Andy Caddick was among his critics and Hildreth was linked with the captaincy back then, but as Trescothick has rediscovered his form, Hildreth has proved a perfect deputy to the former England star.
Hildreth has been part of an impressive transformation for the county, who were, in truth, lucky to avoid relegation from the County Championship Division One last year. A necessary post-season regroup was taken, and they now sit second in the table, even rivalling Middlesex for the title after good wins against Durham and Sussex.
In the Natwest T20 blast, Hildreth has admittedly been inconsistent, though that is fairly reflective of Somerset in general, who have won just one game so far. Against Kent, however, he was a shining light for Nosworthy’s side, scoring 58, even though the match ended in a 42-run defeat for the Spitfires.
Undoubtedly Hildreth will be one of Somerset’s key batsmen as they continue to push for the Division One title, and his new deal means that will continue for years to come as he looks to see out the remainder of his career at Taunton.
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