Somersetare sending a second XI side packed with County Championship and international experience to Instow on Sunday (11am) to play Devon in a pre-season friendly.
Devon don’t start serious cricket in the Minor Counties Championship for another four weeks, but professional cricket is already up and running. Somerset are currently playing Kent.
Somerset often use second XI games against Minor Counties to have a look at youngsters in their Academy, triallists or senior players in need of match practice.
This early in the season Somerset’s priority is time in the middle for senior players who missed out on first-team selection – and the side facing Devon reflects that.
Players who missed out against Kent have largely been preferred to up-and-coming youngsters, which means places for Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Dom Bess, Tim Rouse and Paul van Meekeren.
Devonian Bess featured in two Tests for England last summer and toured India and Pakistan with England Lions during the winter. He warmed up for the season ahead playing for MCC against champion county Surrey in Dubai.
Tom Lammonby, another Devonian on the Somerset staff, captained England U19s during their winter tour of Bangladesh.
Dutch international van Meekeren spent part of the winter playing in the Nepal in the Everest T20 league with Somerset team-mate Roelof van der Merwe for Biratnagar Warriors.
Peter Trego, who is contracted to play for Devon this season when not required by Somerset for white-ball cricket, is also in the visiting team.
Cornwood’s Ben Beaumont, a Devon under-16 regular last season, has been invited to act as Somerset’s 12th man for the match.
Devon have two 50-over warm-up games and a T20 trial day before the season proper gets under way.
The game against Somerset is followed by the traditional match against University of Exeter at Sidmouth on April 15.
The emphasis switches to T20 cricket on April 22 with a full day of crash-bang-wallop cricket at Seaton.
Gone from the squad of players used are skipper Josh Bess, who has retired, Bradninch all-rounder Gary Chappell and Scott Barlow. Chappell and Barlow don’t wish to be considered this season.
Two new faces in the side are Somerset Academy pair Ned Leonard and Kasey Aldridge. Both will be making their Devon debuts on Sunday
Aldridge, a 6ft 4ins fast bowler, took six wickets in the match on his England U19 debut in Bangladesh earlier this year.
Leonard, who at 16 is two years younger than Aldridge, was talent spotted playing for Middlesex at under-14 level.
New Devon captain Matt Thompson knows Aldridge and Leonard well from his time teaching at Millfield School, where both are students.
Thompson had a previous stint as county skipper between 2015-2016.
The game is the first in charge for new Devon team boss Dave Tall, who has taken over from Keith Donohue as director of cricket.
Tall had a long career in Devon League cricket with Tavistock, Plymouth, Bovey Tracey, Barton and finally Cornwood, where he had started out as a teenager. Tall played for Devon between 1987-1993.
Devon v Somerset II: M W Thompson (St Fagins), J A Stephens (Falmouth), L J Lewis (Heathcoat), M Pugh (Torquay), D R Pyle (Heathcoat), K L Aldridge (Brislington), E O Leonard (Bridgwater), Z G G Bess (Sidmouth), D J Goodey (Plymouth), T R J Codd (Bovey), M W Hancock (Sidmouth), J V King (North Devon).
Somerset 2nd XI: T Banton, G A Bartlett, P D Trego, T D Rouse, R E van der Merwe, B G F Green, D M Bess, T A Lammonby, P A van Meekeren, N N Gilchrist, C A R Gilbert. 12th: B Beaumont.