JAMES Hildreth is set to make it almost 20 years playing for Somerset County Cricket Club, with the batsman agreeing a contract extension through to the end of the 2022 season.

The 36-year-old, whose current deal was due to expire at the end of the 2021 campaign, made his Somerset debut in 2003.

Since then Hildreth has played 665 matches across three formats for the club, scoring almost 26,000 runs, and becoming Somerset's all-time leading run scorer in T20 cricket (3,694 runs).

He has also had the distinction of scoring the winning runs on the last two occasions that Somerset have won silverware - the Twenty20 Cup in 2005 and the Royal London One-Day Cup in 2019.

The 2020 season saw him score 124 runs in four Bob Willis Trophy matches, at an average of 20.66, before his campaign was ended prematurely by a hamstring injury.

Somerset will hope that his experience will continue to complement the still youthful nature of the county's team in 2021.

After signing his extension, Hildreth said: “I absolutely love the club and I just want to go on playing here for as long as possible.

"It’s an amazing job to have and I’m very fortunate to have played for the length of time that I have.

"When I was offered an extension there was never a question mark about what I was going to do.

“We’ve been playing consistently good cricket for a long time now," he added.

"We’ve won a trophy and we want to win more.

"I’ve got every confidence that Somerset can keep pushing for silverware this year and for future years to come.

“To be successful there has to be a good succession plan in place, and the club are doing really well in that regard with the number of players that are coming through the Academy and making an impact on the 1st XI.

"We’ve got exciting young players coming through who have already contributed to Somerset winning matches and that’s a great sign.

"The older boys are still desperate to contribute to wins as well and we’re always keen to help out the younger guys coming through.

“Last year was a really hard one for so many people, and we know how much coming to see the team play means to our members and supporters.

"When they are in the ground the atmosphere is second to none.

"Fingers crossed we can get people in this year to watch and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

"We want to try and make 2021 the most brilliant year for everyone.”

Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry commented: “What can you say about James Hildreth that hasn’t already been said?

"He is phenomenal both on the field and off it.

"He is one of the most respected players in the domestic game, because he has consistently delivered with the bat and in the field, and his record speaks for itself.

“He loves this club, and his knowledge and experience of the game has benefitted the younger players in the squad.

"We are delighted that he has extended his time with the club.”