Bob Willis Trophy Final 2020 ~ Somerset v Essex ~ Third day ~ Alistair Cook ~ A class above

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching the ECB’s enhanced live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P. Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Overnight. Somerset 301.

Third day – Alistair Cook – a class above

I once saw Robert Stephens, subsequently a theatrical knight, play King Lear at Stratford, co-incidentally in the same year that Marcus Trescothick first played for Somerset. I have, over a lifetime, seen most of Shakespeare’s plays. Most of the individual performances, enjoyed in the moment, have since merged into a lifetime of theatrical experience. Some still stand out, but Robert Stephens’ performance stands out above all. It was the most complete and compelling individual theatrical performance I have ever seen. So compelling, the entire cast joined in the applause, a rare occurrence in the theatre.

It is the same with individual performances against Somerset. As the years go by, most merge into a lifetime of cricket-watching experience. A few still stand out, although none to the extent of that Robert Stephens performance. One such, as it happens, came from a great Essex player. In 1985, the year after Alistair Cook was born, another cricketer to be knighted, Ian Botham, in a rain-affected three-day match at Taunton, set Essex a somewhat generous 296 to win in about 85 overs. Graham Gooch made a nonsense of the target by scoring 173 of those 296 runs. I can still recall watching from the old River Stand as he crashed the ball around the County Ground. To add a bit of Somerset colour to the story, Botham had made 152 from 121 balls in Somerset’s only innings, crashing, as was his wont, the ball over the rope on four occasions.

No-one can accuse Alistair Cook of crashing a cricket ball anywhere. He bats with a velvet glove, although the effect on the ball is just as devastating as any struck by Gooch, Botham or Trescothick. The future is a difficult place to predict, but Cook’s innings of 172 in this match, scored out of 266 runs made whilst he was at the wicket, painful though it was for a Somerset supporter to watch, and of necessity watched through the screen of a laptop rather than in the flesh, seems destined to hold a place in the permanent section of the memory bank alongside the memories of Gooch’s innings and Stephens’ Lear.

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Bob Willis Trophy Final 2020 ~ Somerset v Essex ~ Second Day ~ “Come on! Run, the ball!”

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching the ECB’s enhanced live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P. Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Overnight. Somerset 119 for 4.

Second day – “Come on! Run, the ball!”

“Come on! Run, the ball!” I heard myself shouting at my laptop. I am not normally inclined to shout at my laptop, except perhaps after the latest update designed to ‘improve’ something that had worked perfectly well up to that point. Craig Overton had just driven Aaron Beard straight along the ground towards the Pavilion boundary. An Essex fielder was in hot pursuit and the ball was running a little more slowly than the fielder. Somerset were 184 for 5 and Overton and Byrom were building a partnership that was pulling Somerset out of the indeterminate first innings marshlands of 139 for 5 towards the more solid ground beyond 200. The involuntary shout was indicative of the gnawing tension inherent in a closely fought match on which a trophy hangs.

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Bob Willis Trophy Final 2020 ~ Somerset v Essex ~ A dimpsy day

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching the ECB’s enhanced live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P.Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Toss. Essex. Elected to field.

First day – A dimpsy day

Somerset have been here before, or somewhere near. In 2008, 2010, 2016 and again in 2019 they began the final match of the first-class season with a realistic prospect of winning their first County Championship. In the end of course, the trophy went elsewhere. 2020 is not quite the same. This is not the County Championship. The Bob Willis Trophy is a much-truncated affair in comparison with the County Championship. Six matches instead of 14. Not all the stronger teams played each other, and no team played another on a home and away basis. And, at the crunch, the first-class domestic trophy is to be decided in a five-day grand final played at Lord’s.

And yet, in a year in which sport has been decimated as part of the attempts to control the coronavirus pandemic, it is a wonder that a national competition of four-day cricket has taken place at all, let alone been pursued to a conclusion. And, in spite of all, the two strongest four-day teams in the land, and the ones who contested the 2019 County Championship so closely are the ones to have progressed to Lord’s. This is a match, and a trophy, worth the winning.

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Bob Willis Trophy ~ Worcestershire v Somerset ~ Final Day ~ 9th September ~ Through to the final

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Worcestershire CCC’s live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Overnight. Somerset 251 and 193. Worcestershire 200 and 58 for 2. Worcestershire need 187 runs to win with eight wickets standing.

Final day. 9th September – Through to the final

In the end Somerset pushed over their wall. Worcestershire resisted in phases, and at times raised the level of anxiety in Somerset supporters’ minds to a higher level than is comfortable. At one point the Worcestershire batsmen made a dash for the line, but throughout the innings no partnership lasted long enough to apply the persistent pressure to Somerset necessary to force a win. In the end, the Somerset bowling proved too strong for the Worcestershire batsmen on a pitch on which each innings total was lower than the one before. It was a day of greater tension than the end result or the cold facts of the result portray. Throughout the final day Worcestershire were under greater pressure than Somerset, but only at the very end was the task beyond them. Until then, however regularly Somerset took wickets, Worcestershire’s target was never beyond the range of an exceptional innings or a determined partnership.

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Bob Willis Trophy ~ Worcesterhire v Somerset ~ Third day ~ 8th September ~ Lammonby’s student masterclass

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Worcestershire CCC’s live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Overnight. Somerset 251 and 16 for 1. Worcestershire 200. Somerset lead by 67 runs with nine second innings wickets standing.

Third day. 8th September – Lammonby’s student masterclass

“I think we might have found a batsman,” said the incoming text even before Tom Lammonby had reached his century. In the end, Lammonby carried his bat at the age of 20 with Somerset under the most intense pressure, and with a place in the final of this competition at stake. It was a performance to rank with some of the best Somerset innings the author has witnessed in over six decades of watching Somerset play cricket.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Worcestershire v Somerset ~ 8th September ~ Second day ~ Irresistable

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Worcestershire CCC’s live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Overnight. Somerset 251. Worcestershire 14 for 0. Worcestershire trail by 237 runs.

Second day. 7th September – Irresistable

The first hour looked like it might put Somerset’s first innings total into a worrying perspective, at least from a Somerset point of view. Somerset resumed with Davey and Overton beneath an autumnal sky. The distant, narrow bands of cloud which lined the horizon beyond the Basil D’Oliveira Stand were marble smooth, and white with a tinge of grey. Across the sky, between them, were the narrowest strips of blue. It set a relaxed mood which the Worcestershire batting seemed to pick up as it faced Somerset bowling unable to derive much by way of help from the pitch or the overhead conditions.

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Bob Willis Trophy ~ Worcestershire v Somerset ~ First Day ~ 6th September 2020 ~ Zeitgeist of an earlier age

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Worcestershire CCC’s live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 6th September – Zeitgeist of an earlier age

The cricket on the first day of this match was a universe away from the frenetic boundary clearing and wide line bowling of the T20 match that these two teams had fought out less than a week before. Nearly 450 runs in that match in what, in the Bob Willis Trophy, would be less than half a day’s cricket. The T20 was played in the modern high-sided stadium that is Edgbaston, although the R.E.S Wyatt Stand at the Birmingham End retains all the character of an earlier age. This match was played in front of the majestic Worcester cathedral on the other side of the Severn. The ground itself retains virtually all the character of old, including a small area of trees just beyond the boundary to the left of the Ladies Pavilion. I have taken shelter from a searing sun under those trees on more than one visit to Worcester. T20 has caught the sporting zeitgeist of the modern age, the huge and diverse crowds it attracts is testimony to that. The Bob Willis Trophy brings with it the zeitgeist of an earlier age.

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Vitality Blast T20 ~ Somerset v Glamorgan ~ 1st September2020 ~ Taunton ~ An Abell classic for the ages

All Vitality Blast T20 matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written through watching the match on Somerset CCC’s newly enhanced live stream without access to which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Vitality Blast T20. Central Group. Somerset v Glamorgan. 1st September 2020. Taunton.

Somerset. G.A. Bartlett, S.M.Davies (w), J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, B.G.F. Green, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, O.R.T Sale, J.H. Davey, M.T.C. Waller.

Glamorgan. W.T. Root, D.A. Douthwaite, A. Balbirnie, C.B. Cooke (c) (w), K.S. Carlson, C.Z. Taylor, G.G. Wagg, A.G. Salter, M. de Lange, T. van der Gugten, P. Sisodiya.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

An Abell classic for the ages

As the sky darkened and the floodlights lit up the Cooper Associates County Ground for that latter day form of cricket, T20, Tom Abell played an innings of such classical splendour and dominance it would have graced any form of cricket in any age, including the so-called golden age of over a century ago. In these constrained times it may only have been visible through the medium of twenty-first century technology but those of us privileged to have seen it might have seen nothing better had we been lining the ring of the County Ground as Lionel Palairet strutted his stuff at the end of the nineteenth century. It secured Somerset a crucial victory in this tournament, but the innings will lodge in the mind long after the victory has been forgotten. Abell’s innings was something truly special. Read More »

Vitality Blast 2020 ~ Northamptonshire v Somerset ~ Northampton ~ 30th August ~ Not enough firepower

All Vitality Blast T20 matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written through watching the match on Northamptonshire CCC’s live stream without access to which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Vitality Blast T20. Central Group. Northamptonshire v Somerset. 30th August 2020. Northampton.

Northamptonshire. R.E. Levi, P.R. Stirling, J.J. Cobb (c), A.M. Rossington (w), A.G. Wakely, Z.A. Zaib, G.K. Berg, G.G. White, N.L. Buck, B.W. Sanderson, B.D. Glover.

Somerset. G.A. Bartlett, S.M.Davies (w), J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, B.G.F. Green, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J. Overton, O.R.T Sale, M.T.C. Waller.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

Not enough fire power

“It is difficult to win T20 matches without hitting sixes,” said the incoming text as the Somerset batsmen left the field at the end of the match still nine runs short of Northamptonshire’s 171 for 6. In this match Northamptonshire hit five sixes to Ollie Sale’s one for Somerset. The Somerset batsmen made a spirited assault on the Northamptonshire total, particularly at the beginning and the end of their innings. Northamptonshire kept their nerve under the pressure of the Somerset batsmen’s initial assault, applied pressure when Somerset needed to regroup in the middle of their innings, and resisted Roelof van der Merwe’s charge at the end. As the text implied, Somerset missed the firepower of Banton and Gregory and the commanding hand of Babar Azam’s batting.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ Final Day ~ The final reckoning

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s excellent multi-camera live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Somerset v Gloucestershire. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th August 2020. Taunton.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J. Overton, J.H. Davey. J.A. Brooks.

Gloucestershire. C.D.J Dent, B.G. Charlesworth, G.L. van Buuren, T.C. Lace, G.T. Hankins, R.F. Higgins, G.H. Roderick, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, J. Shaw, M.D. Taylor.

Overnight. Somerset 237 and 223 for 1 dec. Gloucestershire 76 and 63 for 8. Gloucestershire need another 322 runs to win with two second innings wickets standing.

Final day 25th August – The final reckoning

And so, even the weather of Damocles could not stop Somerset this time. It blew through with such force that the damp that its rain left behind was blown away by the wind that brought it, with a little help from some sun. The rain had gone by breakfast time, the ground dried out quickly enough for the cricketers to take an early lunch, and the match was over in time for your correspondent to enjoy an afternoon ice cream on a bench overlooking the Blackdowns. It is not quite the same as enjoying one whilst watching the cricket from in front of the Garner Gates, but the victory over Gloucestershire was more than enough compensation for that.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ Third day ~ Deja vu

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s excellent multi-camera live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Somerset v Gloucestershire. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th August 2020. Taunton.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J. Overton, J.H. Davey. J.A. Brooks.

Gloucestershire. C.D.J Dent, B.G. Charlesworth, G.L. van Buuren, T.C. Lace, G.T. Hankins, R.F. Higgins, G.H. Roderick, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, J. Shaw, M.D. Taylor.

Overnight. Somerset 237 and 223 for 1 dec. Gloucestershire 76 and 14 for 3. Gloucestershire need another 371 runs to win with seven second innings wickets standing.

Third day 24th August – In the hands of Damocles

“Only Somerset could declare their second innings on 223 for 1 on the second day and then draw the match with the opposition on 97 for 9,” said the incoming text an hour into what would have been the afternoon session. It is to be hoped that the person who sent the text is not a prophet, for of the still possible results that is one of them.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ Second Day ~ “Most Satisfactory”

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s excellent multi-camera live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Somerset v Gloucestershire. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th August 2020. Taunton.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J. Overton, J.H. Davey. J.A. Brooks.

Gloucestershire. C.D.J Dent, B.G. Charlesworth, G.L. van Buuren, T.C. Lace, G.T. Hankins, R.F. Higgins, G.H. Roderick, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, J. Shaw, M.D. Taylor.

Overnight. Somerset 237. Gloucestershire 13 for 4. Gloucestershire trail by 224 runs with six first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 23rd August – “Most satisfactory”

This was another day of stunning Somerset success. In the first three matches of this competition Somerset’s opposition has been overwhelmed. It might have stood against Somerset early in a match but by the end it had been, in cricketing terms, devastated. There is still cricket to be played in this match, Gloucestershire still have seven wickets standing, but they are 371 runs short of victory in a competition in which, to date, no team has thus far scored more than 166 in an innings against Somerset. Only two opposition batsmen have passed 50, whereas six centuries have been scored by Somerset batsmen. On the basis of those statistics there will be many bruised arms in Somerset and beyond as supporters repeatedly pinch themselves to seek reassurance that they are actually awake.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ First day ~ “That’ll do”

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s excellent multi-camera live stream of the match without which the report would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Somerset v Gloucestershire. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th August 2020. Taunton.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J. Overton, J.H. Davey. J.A. Brooks.

Gloucestershire. C.D.J Dent, B.G. Charlesworth, G.L. van Buuren, T.C. Lace, G.T. Hankins, R.F. Higgins, G.H. Roderick, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, J. Shaw, M.D. Taylor.

Toss. Gloucestershire. Elected to field.

First day. 22nd August – “That’ll do”

In the first match of the Bob Willis Trophy, George Bartlett received a sickening blow on the helmet from Marchant de Lange. It stopped play for an unconscionable amount of time whilst he was ministered to and the required concussion tests were carried out. He carried on, but to my eye, looked out of sorts after the blow. He did not have the same composure he had shown before it. He was checked twice more, and hung on without looking convincing for some time until he was out. He has missed the two intervening matches as a consequence of that blow. You would not have known it on the first day of this match. He played an innings of sheer joy, at least for the watching Somerset supporter. He came to the wicket at 44 for 3, was still there at 176 for 9 and left undefeated on 100 when Somerset were all out for 237. Applause would have resounded around the ground in other times. All that could stand would have been on their feet, hands clapping above their heads as he jumped a celebratory jig in the middle of his 100th run. And again, a ball later, as the players walked off. It was a transformation to warm the cockles of a Somerset heart.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~ “That was cruel”

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

A different type of take on a frustrating day:—

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Overnight. Warwickshire 121 and 104 for 6. Somerset 413 for 9 dec. Warwickshire trail by 188 runs with four second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 18th August – “That was cruel”

“That was cruel,” said the incoming text seconds after the match was abandoned. And it was, at least in cricketing terms, cruel. And long drawn out cruelty at that. So much potentially hung on the outcome of this match. The points position at the top of the three groups was so tight, winning or drawing might make the eventual difference between qualifying for the final and not.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~Third day ~ The broadsword and the rapier

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Overnight. Warwickshire 121. Somerset 214 for 6. Somerset lead by 93 runs with four first innings wickets standing.

Third day. 17th August – The broadsword and the rapier

Batsmen not out overnight are always vulnerable first thing in the morning, either to a good ball or to a lapse in concentration. At least, anecdotally to my mind, it has seemed that way over the years. It was Hildreth on the second day here, Gregory on the third. In the second over, Bresnan bowled an innocuous-looking ball wide of off stump, Gregory essayed what had all the appearance of a speculative drive and the ball, from the direction the players looked across the screen, was caught at mid-off. Somerset 215 for 7. Van der Merwe joined Davies and drove a straight ball from Hannon-Dalby off the back foot through point for four. He attempted to steer the next ball to third man, the ball cut away off the pitch and the faint edge carried straight to Burgess behind the stumps. Somerset 226 for 8, a lead 105, and the previous evening’s hopes of a score of 300 receding.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~ Day two ~ Glowering skies – Glorious cricket

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Overnight. Warwickshire 121. Somerset 80 for 2. Somerset trail by 41 runs with eight first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 16th August – Glowering skies – glorious cricket

A glowering sky presented itself when the live stream woke up on the second morning of this match. Then, the dread words presented themselves. “Start delayed. Wet outfield. Rain.” The wide-angle camera located in the Pavilion presented its view of the Birmingham skyline. A skyline that was doing battle with those clouds. Half-buildings with their heads in the clouds. I could almost feel the dank atmosphere. The sullen-looking outfield didn’t help. Neither did the Blackdowns, for they looked depressed and expectant of rain. Perhaps, like me, they knew of the importance of Somerset getting enough time on the field in this match to force a win. It is the halfway point of a five-match competition in which only two of the three group winners can progress to the final. Even five wins might not guarantee a place. Weather could be a crucial factor in determining the outcome, and the forecast for the final three days of this match was poor. The players would have had their own view, but the supporter dreamt of them only having to bat once, perhaps, dream of dreams, of reaching 300 and then letting loose the … . Well, not exactly the dogs of war, but you get my drift after the Somerset bowling performance of the first Warwickshire innings.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~ First day ~ Oh, to be in Birmingham …

All Bob Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it would not have been possible. The stream was watched throughout with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live; and to enable him to form his own view of the play.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Toss. Warwickshire. Elected to bat.

First day. 15th August – Oh, to be in Birmingham …

The picture on the Somerset CCC website brought an immediate flood of memories. It was taken from the upper reaches of the five-storey Pavilion at Edgbaston. Beyond the far end of the ground can be seen the Birmingham skyline. If you know where to look you can pick out the iconic structure of the ultra-modern library. It is a view I have taken in from the packed members lounge on many an occasion on my annual visits to Edgbaston for Somerset’s Championship match there. I have had many an enjoyable chat in that lounge with Somerset and Warwickshire supporters both. Not today. Today, as the camera scans the empty stands it is another stark cricketing reminder of the times through which we are passing. The sun is shining, and the shadows of the players are clear on the pitch. It looks a perfect day for cricket. A perfect day to sit in my usual haunt at Edgbaston, square of the wicket in the Hollies Stand, where last year I and two or three other Somerset supporters formed an informal Somerset cricket symposium for the day. Not today. As it is, with the sun shining in Birmingham, I am ensconced in an armchair watching the Edgbaston live stream on an elderly laptop with a rain-filled sky obliterating my treasured view of the Blackdowns.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Northamptonshire v Somerset ~ Final day ~ Making a difference – Craig and Jamie Overton

All Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Northamptonshire CCC’s live stream of the match. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Northamptonshire v Somerset. 8th and 9th August 2020. Northampton.

Northamptonshire. E.N. Gay, B.J. Curran, R. Vasconcelos, R.I Keogh, C.O. Thurston, L.A Procter, A.M. Rossington (c) (w), G.K. Berg, Blessing Muzarabani, B.D. Glover, B.W. Sanderson.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey, J.A. Brooks.

Overnight. Somerset 166 and 15 for 1. Northamptonshire 67. Somerset lead by 114 runs with nine second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 9th August – Making a difference – Craig and Jamie Overton

One of the things that is supposed to give most satisfaction in life is to make a difference. There is no doubt about who made the difference in this match. I am sure there would be only one answer from a bruised Northamptonshire. Somerset won by 167 runs. Together Craig and Jamie Overton scored a total of 148 runs over the two innings. 19 short to be sure. But perhaps the nine wickets and four catches they took between them might make up for that. Batting and bowling, it was an outstanding performance by all the Somerset bowlers, but the Overton brothers were, as they say, up front and central to it.Read More »

Willis Tropy 2020. Northamptonshire v Somerset. First day. A madcap day at the cricket.

All Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Northamptonshire CCC’s live stream of the match. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Northamptonshire v Somerset. 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th August 2020. Northampton.

Northamptonshire. E.N. Gay, B.J. Curran, R. Vasconcelos, R.I Keogh, C.O. Thurston, L.A Procter, A.M. Rossington (c) (w), G.K. Berg, Blessing Muzarabani, B.D. Glover, B.W. Sanderson.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey, J.A. Brooks.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 8th August – A madcap day at the cricket

The journey to my armchair is somewhat shorter than the one from home or a hotel to the cricket used to be, but the anticipation builds up just the same as the early part of the morning wears on. There is nothing quite like the first morning of a first-class cricket match. I was once asked if I would be travelling to a particular match. “Yes,” I answered, “but I can only get the time to go to one day. I will probably gauge which day to go to from the score.” The questioner looked at me in horror. “First day!” he said, almost ordering me to comply. He had a point. By the start of the subsequent days the match is part shaped. On the first morning the anticipation is boundless. After that, it is bounded by what has gone before. The only time I have had a feeling quite like the one I have on the morning of a four-day match was on the mornings of those great set-piece battles that were those acutely anticipated quarter and semi-finals of the Gillette Cup in its heyday. The prospect of glory or elimination, so near the prize, concentrated the mind wonderfully.Read More »

Wonderful ~ Bob Willis Trophy ~ Somerset v Glamorgan ~ Final day

All Willis Trophy matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s live stream of the match. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live. He would like to pay tribute to the excellence of the Somerset CCC’s multi-camera live stream without which the writing of this report would not have been possible.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Somerset v Glamorgan. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th August 2020. Taunton.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett/B.G.F. Green*, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey, J.A. Brooks.

Glamorgan. N. J. Selman, C.R. Hemphrey, W.T. Root, C.B. Cooke (c) (w), D.A. Douthwaite, G.G. Wagg, K.A. Bull, K.S. Carlson, M. de Lange, M.G. Hogan, R.A.J. Smith,

Overnight. Somerset 296 and 290 for 8 dec. Glamorgan 131 and 126 for 5. Glamorgan need 330 more runs to win with five wickets standing.

Final day. 4th August – Wonderful

Somerset finished this match off with a near-clinical performance in just over an hour. To the fore was Jamie Overton in a longer spell than he might normally bowl. He will leave Somerset at the end of this season, but no-one watching the live stream could question his commitment to Somerset’s cause in this match. He has celebrated as one with the team on the field, and when the ball was in his hands, bowled with focus, determination, and no little skill. The ball with which he removed Kieran Bull was one to place in the display cabinet of the memory bank. It was essentially the same ball with which he removed Nick Selman, lbw, with the third ball of the innings on the previous evening. On this occasion no pad intervened, and the off stump was spectacularly uprooted. Unforgettable. And Jamie Overton had taken five wickets in the innings.Read More »