THE hurt was clear for all to see.

Somerset, frustrated by weather, then Alastair Cook, then ultimately the passage of time, were runners-up for the third time in four seasons. The words 'County Championship title' will again be preceded by 'elusive' next season.

To add insult to injury, they then had to watch the newly-crowned champions, Essex, celebrate on the Taunton turf - just as Lancashire had in 2011.

You can tell a lot about an individual by how they react to such circumstances and, for Somerset, it simply reinforced how fortunate they are to have Tom Abell as their captain.

He is a leader who, in the words of his head coach Jason Kerr, "carries the weight of the world on his shoulders", and the emotions were still raw when he emerged to carry out his media duties.

Abell made no attempt to hide his disappointment but the maturity and eloquence with which he spoke having just seen a dream first title slip from his team's grasp was as impressive as any feat with bat or ball this season.

"Having won the One-Day Cup, we were desperate to go one further and win the Championship to do the double," he said.

"We are all very aware of how much it means to everyone at Somerset and to us as a team. It just wasn’t quite meant to be.

"We are absolutely gutted with another runners-up tag.

"The previous times we have come from nowhere. Last year was a bit of a one-horse race but this year was a two-horse race and we have been right there or thereabouts.

"We have been pipped at the last, which is devastating, but it will fuel the fire to go one better next year."

It cannot be easy being in Abell's position at times.

Yes, as a Taunton born and raised cricketer leading his home county, he is doing his dream job. But that also means, as he eluded to, he is acutely aware of how important cricket - particularly the County Championship - is in this part of the world.

It is possible to wonder whether that burden, along with all the talk of the Holy Grail, becomes an extra, maybe even unnecessary pressure - though Abell was not prepared to hide behind that.

"I don't think the pressure got the better of us at all," he said.

"We have been in pressure situations throughout this season and come through them.

"The weather has got the better of us this week but there are no excuses - fair play to Essex.

"Over the course of a season the best team will prevail, so congratulations to them."

Abell will now be tasked with picking up the side to challenge once more in 2020, a task they should be up to given the quality and potential in their ranks.

The young players who have begun to establish themselves this summer do not carry the baggage of the 'bridesmaids' tag and they can instead draw upon the experience of lifting silverware at Lord's in May.

“We take a lot of pride in how our young players have stepped up and come of age," Abell said.

"We needed that to happen if we were going to compete at the top of the division.

"It’s great to see them coming of age - those guys put a lot of hard yards in.

"It is important to celebrate their successes as you take a lot of knocks as young players."

Abell knows that as well as anyone, having come through his own difficult period in his first season in charge, but he now appears so comfortable in the role it is easy to forget he is still only 25 and has his best years ahead of him.

Typically, the credit for that growth as captain is shared - Abell is not someone to lap up personal praise.

“I’m very lucky to have such incredible teammates and staff that help me out," he said.

"Everyone has got my back and I have certainly got theirs as well.

"I’m not on my own out there, I can assure you of that."

As for his own form, Abell admitted he would have "liked more consistency" across a season which has seen him finish as Somerset's leading Championship run scorer (756 at 31.50) as well as bringing a maiden T20 century.

He should surely be in contention for the England Lions' tour of Australia in the New Year but, for now, his focus is on recharging the batteries.

“It certainly takes its toll, the amount of emotional energy you put into a season," he said.

"When you are competing for trophies until the final day, it does take it out of you.

"I will try and not think too much about cricket in the next few weeks - inevitably I probably will be - and I am looking forward to having a break."

After a summer like this, Abell has most certainly earned it.