Somerville’s Black Caps call-up ‘a long time coming’

Newly promoted Black Cap Will Somerville in action for Otago during a tour game against England...
Newly promoted Black Cap Will Somerville in action for Otago during a tour game against England at the University of Otago Oval in 2008. Photo: Peter McIntosh
How long would you persevere?

Would you spend a couple of years chasing your dreams? Three or four perhaps? What about a decade?

Former Otago cricketer Will Somerville has redefined what it means to be tenacious. Thirteen years after making his first-class debut for the province the 34-year-old has been called into the Black Caps test squad.

The towering off-spinner replaces the desperately unlucky Todd Astle, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the Black Caps tour of the United Arab Emirates with a knee injury.

"It has been a long time coming," Somerville told the Otago Daily Times shortly after a net session with his new team, the Auckland Aces.

"Now I’ve got this opportunity I’m extremely excited and just can’t wait to meet my new team-mates and play against Pakistan, hopefully."

Somerville was born in Wellington but moved to Australia with his family when he was 9. But he returned to New Zealand to attend the University of Otago and showed great promise at the bowling crease.

He got bounce and spin and took three for 26 in his debut spell.

But he left Dunedin in 2009 having made just four first-class appearances in four years. He followed his then girlfriend and now wife, Eleanor, to Sydney. He had failed to crack the Otago Champions League team and decided to move on. He put his accountancy degree to good work over there but never gave up on his cricket ambitions. He slugged it out each weekend playing grade cricket in Sydney or "Sydney test cricket" as it has been dubbed.

Then he got a second opportunity when he was called into the New South Wales Sheffield Shield side in 2014.He impressed but, just like in Otago, there were others ahead of him.

But his breakthrough came during the 2016-17 Sheffield Shield season. He was the Blues’ leading wicket taker with 35 wickets at an average of 23.14 in seven matches.

There was even talk the dual-national might be in line for a Baggy Green.

But that opportunity did not materialise and he decided to return to New Zealand and signed with Auckland this year.

He had dreamed of playing for the Black Caps as a child and that dream is closer than ever.

"My dad has always told me my career really started when I was 30. It is a great lesson in persistence, that’s for sure."

The couple have two young children — Hugo (2) and Zoe (10 months) — so it has been a "huge move for the family".

"It is a little bit easier at their age. They are fairly adaptable, but it has been tough for my wife.

"But she has been hugely supportive and we are lucky to have supportive family here.

"We’re just starting to feel settled and now I’m heading overseas."

Somerville’s parents live in Wanaka and he considered returning to play for Otago rather than Auckland. But he felt with former international Mark Craig ensconced in the Volts team, Auckland was a better fit.

But Somerville has found memories of his stint in Dunedin. He has kept in touch with many of his former team-mates.

"I’ve had a lot of support from the guys from Dunedin. I was stoked when University-Grange got back into Dunedin prem cricket this year."

Former Otago players Anthony Bullick and Matt Harvey were groomsmen at his wedding and he still has some close friendships from his "Dunedin days".

Somerville will compete for a spot in the test line-up with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi and a left-arm spinner in Ajaz Patel. The first test against Pakistan gets under way on November 16. 

Add a Comment