SOMERSET'S cricketers will be enjoying a somewhat warmer pre-season than last year as they prepare for the 2019 season.

Last winter saw a marquee erected on the outfield to recreate early season conditions and, though it was successful (Somerset won their first two County Championship matches for the first time since 1993), floodlight work at the Cooper Associates County Ground means the experiment cannot be repeated this winter.

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Instead, the players and coaching staff will be jetting off to Abu Dhabi for two weeks at the beginning of March, where they will play warm-up matches against other First Class counties.

They are unlikely to be affected by adverse weather, which called off the majority of Somerset's pre-season fixtures in 2018 - the first of them being cancelled due to snow in mid-March.

Head coach Jason Kerr told the club website: "The marquee was fantastic, but the time that we can have that this year due to the floodlights is very slim. The best alternative is to go abroad and play some competitive cricket.

“This year we’ll be looking to go abroad in pre-season to make sure that the guys get some practice out on grass, and more importantly get some competitive cricket.

"Last year we went into the first game only having had two days preparation because of the weather.

“Essex and Warwickshire have both confirmed that they will be out there [Abu Dhabi] and Worcestershire are also looking at going.

"That means that there will be some strong opposition for us to play against in order to get that competitive sharpness."


JACK Leach made just a single in his unexpected new role as an England opener but a sparkling century from captain Joe Root helped the tourists into a good position against Sri Lanka.

Leach, who played out a maiden to end the second day's play, fell lbw to Dilruwan Perera after a review to the ninth ball of the third morning.

England were in a precarious position at 109-4, leading by just 63, but Root's 15th Test ton - scored at an impressive strike rate - inspired a recovery.

Root eventually fell for 124, while Jos Buttler chipped in with 34 and Ben Foakes remains unbeaten on 51 as England finished the day on 324-9, a lead of 278.

It is set up very nicely for an intriguing fourth day, with Leach set to play an integral role with the ball on a turning wicket.