FORMER Somerset player Steve Kirby is to rejoin the club in the role of bowling coach.

Kirby played for Somerset between 2011 and 2014, taking more than 180 wickets across all three formats and appearing in two Twenty20 Cup finals for the club before being forced to retire through injury.

Now he moves from Derbyshire - where he has held the role of assistant coach (bowling lead) - to fill the position left by Ireland-bound Stuart Barnes.

Kirby will start work at the Cooper Associates County Ground in February 2021, providing specialist bowling coaching and support to the senior squad, and helping to ensure the conveyor belt of talented young players continues to run smoothly.

Kirby commented: “I’m really happy to be coming back to Somerset. I had some amazing times there as a player.

"Since then I’ve had quite a journey as a coach, initially with the MCC and then with Derbyshire.

“I’m really indebted to Derbyshire and in particular Dave Houghton and Mal Loye for giving me the opportunity to get back in to First Class cricket.

"I have learned so much from them in this role. I have hugely enjoyed working with the players and the team is going from strength to strength, as people will have seen over the last few years.

“Somerset have a fantastic bowling unit, with international players and players who are on the verge of making that step up. I

"’ll be working with some of the best bowlers in the country, and the bowlers in Somerset’s exceptional pathway system are really exciting too.

"I’m really looking forward to helping add to that pipeline in the future, and to working with [head coach] Jason Kerr and [director of cricket] Andy Hurry again.

"This move will also bring me back closer to my family and my children. I’m so excited by this opportunity and I really can’t wait to get started.”

Andy Hurry said: “We were really pleased with the level of interest that we received regarding the vacancy, and we undertook a robust process in identifying Steve as the stand-out fit for us.

“He has been on an incredible journey since playing for the club and has undertaken a number of coaching roles in that time.

"During this period, the growth that he has shown in supporting player’s development really impressed us.

“He demonstrated an incredible passion for the club, an outstanding work ethic and evidenced the development of players he has worked with.

"This, alongside the influence that he had on the progression of Derbyshire’s Vitality Blast bowling performances, really impressed us.

“His knowledge of the game and his strong understanding of the key fundamentals of pace and spin bowling were also very much to the fore, and we feel that he is without doubt the right person to join our coaching team in order to help ensure that we continue to move forward over the next few years.”