Somerset CCC match reports

Daily reports on most days of Somerset matches in the County Championship, Royal London One Day Cup (50 overs) and Vitality Blast (T20) in 2019 will appear on this site. The most recent match report will normally appear immediately below this post and earlier ones below that.

The timing of the appearance of new reports will vary depending on other commitments after a day’s play. However, as far as possible, posting times will be as follows:        

County Championship matches: All days except the final day: normally the following morning. The final day: normally the following day but possibly later especially for away matches.                                                                                                                                        

Royal London One Day Cup and Vitality Blast: Normally the following day but may be later especially for away matches.

N.B. Posting times for all reports can be affected by non-cricket-writing commitments and wifi availabilty as well as travel arrangements for away matches.
                                                                                                                                                            

Astonishing things on an astonishing day

County Championship Division 1. Kent v Somerset. 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th June. Canterbury.

Toss. Uncontested. Kent required to bat.

Overnight. No play. Rain.

Second day. 12th June – Astonishing things on an astonishing day

Riding the top deck of the bus from Whitstable to Canterbury and back was rather like watching a team bat on the first day of play in this match. Never restful and full of unpredictable and frequent jolts to the system. Indeed, it soon became apparent that the only thing that was predictable was the unpredictability. There seemed to be more potholes on that road than craters on the face of the moon as every piece of repair work seemed to have settled into the soft subsoil. No-one was likely to fall asleep on that bus. Or at the cricket. 22 wickets fell in the day and the day ended with the match in the balance although with Somerset holding the faintest of edges. Only the faintest of edges because partnerships of any size were at a premium. As someone said to me, “Somerset are ahead by two decent partnerships to one.” And a 2-1 lead is always fragile especially when unpredictability is the order of the day.Read More »

Somerset’s tectonic shift

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Final day. 6th June – Somerset’s tectonic shift

Overnight. Somerset 344 and 153. Surrey 231 and 99 for 2. Surrey need a further 156 runs to win with eight wickets standing.

What a difference a year makes! In one sense the fourth morning of this match was very similar to the third morning at Guildford in 2018. A bowling performance of such intensity that the batting just melted away before it. Except in 2019 it was Somerset who were doing the bowling and Surrey the melting away. After the 2018 match several travelling Somerset supporters found ourselves in a group behind the Pavilion and concluded we had seen the 2018 County Champions and they were not Somerset. Another group, some from last year and some others found ourselves together after this match on the Woodbridge Road boundary. None dared predict anything but all agreed something very special had happened during the morning and that this Somerset team has something very special. Read More »

Morkel and Dunn grab the momentum

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Third day. 5th June – Morkel and Dunn grab the momentum

Overnight. Somerset 344. Surrey 188 for 5. Surrey trail by 156 with five second innings wickets standing.

I wondered if the most important thing I saw all day was an aeroplane. I was meandering around the ground during the tea interval and heard the sound of jet engines rather as you do over the Oval. I had heard the occasional sound of jet engines low over the ground throughout this match but it was the first time I had seen the aircraft. What struck me was how just how high the cloud had risen above it, and how low the cloud must have been, a few hot sunny intervals on the first day apart, during this match thus far when the engines roared but the aircraft which they powered were beyond sight.

It is surprising how often ‘poor’ batting is accompanied by low cloud and good pace bowling. There may, or may not, be a causal connection. That is something that scientists and cricketers may differ on but there is certainly a connection of some sort in my experience. Whether because of the laws of physics or the psychological response of players to varying overhead conditions or something else is beyond my knowing but it is there. It has certainly been the case in this match and more times than enough in my cricket-watching career. As the spectator I spoke to during the last session said to me as Burns and Borthwick were bringing Surrey up on Somerset’s heels, “The cloud has gone up.” And by the end of the day a watery sun was brightening the ground even further.Read More »

Overton returns

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Second day. 4th June – Overton returns

Overnight. Somerset 344. Surrey 0-0. Surrey trail by 344 runs with ten first innings wickets standing.

There are homecomings and there are homecomings. This was one to be treasured in the video archives of the memory bank. A fast bowler running in from the Pavilion End at Guildford under skies that would have done service to the opening scenes of a biblical epic. He looked for all the world a fast bowler. The long, easy, flowing run to the wicket. The flash of the arm as it came over the head. The torso twisting to the horizontal as it imparted energy to the ball. The ball spearing in towards the batsman’s pads. The flash of the bat as it tried to intercept the missile. The thud of ball on pads. The swivel of the body, arms aloft in expectation rather than hope. The roar and certainty of the appeal. The inevitability of the raising of the finger. The bowler running off from his follow-through pursued by a gaggle of fielders in celebration. The return of Jamie Overton.Read More »

Bartlett’s day

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 3rd June – Bartlett’s day

In 2018 Somerset came to Guildford on top of the Championship. In three traumatic days they were unceremoniously despatched by an innings. Abell had won the toss and, inexplicably to most Somerset supporters, asked Surrey to bat. Surrey had made 459 and bowled Somerset out for 180 and 210. Surrey moved to the top of the table, never looked back and Somerset never looked like catching them. In 2019 Abell won the toss again and this time opted to bat in circumstances for batting that were less propitious than they had been in 2018.Read More »

“Never in doubt …”

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Warwickshire. 20th, 21st and 22nd May 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 209 and 164. Warwickshire 135 and 103 for 6. Warwickshire need a further 136 runs to win with four second innings wickets standing.

Third day. 22nd May – “Never in doubt …”

“You can’t afford to be late today,” was the comment as I left the house. “Somerset only need four wickets.” True, but for this supporter, who has been worrying about Somerset on the field of play since the launch of the first sputnik in 1957 the Warwickshire threat to the 135 runs which Somerset still had left to defend, however distant, nettled away at the back of the mind. Yesterday’s hedge-clipping was no more, so my bus delivered me to the ground with time to spare. As 11 o’clock approached there were about 400 people in the ground, perhaps 500 with those behind glass. They were spread around the stands and there was even a good smattering in the Somerset Stand. It was enough. The atmosphere in the ground as the morning developed suggested there were several times that number, for this was a Somerset crowd in a season in which winning the County Championship is more than a fanciful dream. Winning this match really mattered.Read More »

Somerset retain the advantage

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Warwickshire. 20th, 21st and 22nd May 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 209. Warwickshire 110 for 7. Warwickshire trail by 99 runs with three first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 21st May – Somerset retain the advantage

Tom Abell must loom large in the minds of opposition batsmen when they are at the crease. Fielding at cover he forms what must at times seem to be an impenetrable wall as he dives full length to strangle ‘certain’ fours in their infancy. For the second ball of the second day of this match it was not a dive but a jump which apparently took the eye. Jeetan Patel, one of the more dangerous among lower order batsmen, drove Leach hard and high over cover. Four! Except that Abell catapulted himself upwards, reached even higher and snared the ball. Patel’s threat was ended before it had begun. It was an astonishing catch as it was described to me, for I had missed it. It must have been quite something because it was often the first thing on people’s lips for the rest of the day whenever I stopped to chat to someone new.Read More »

Somerset edge the day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Warwickshire. 20th, 21st , 22nd and 23rd May 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Uncontested. Somerset required to bat

First day. 20th May -Somerset edge the day

As I walked through the Brian Rose gates I saw two sets of stumps pitched more or less in the middle of the playing area. From ground level at that distance they served as well as markers to indicate the location of the pitch as equipment necessary for a game to take place. There was no other way of locating the pitch for it looked as green as the rest of the square. From my seat, next to the sightscreen in the lower level of the Somerset Pavilion, the pitch could be discerned by its colour but it still looked very green. The news that Warwickshire had opted not to toss and had inserted Somerset came as no surprise.Read More »

The weather rules the day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Final day. 18th May – The weather rules the day

Overnight. Surrey 380 and 152 for 5. Somerset 398. Surrey lead by 134 runs with five second innings wickets standing.

A final day which had much in prospect, not least that all four possible results were still very much in play, subsided into one of those frustrating weather-interrupted days where the cricket becomes meaningless in the context of the match and where the weather and conditions, as seen from beyond the boundary at least, seem marginal enough for virtually every decision of the umpires to be the subject of dispute and exasperation among spectators. Even the intervention of Somerset’s brand-new floodlights could not save the day, brightly though they shone. It was too one of those days in which the weather does not help the mood. Mizzle and drizzle rather than straightforward honest rain for the most part and at times Dickensian light to dampen the spirit.Read More »

Gregory shapes the day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Third day. 16th April – Gregory shapes the day

Overnight. Surrey 380. Somerset 243 for 5. Surrey lead by 137 runs with five second innings wickets standing.

After two days spent fighting to stay in this match Somerset made this their day and are now, at worst, at parity. On the last day much will depend, as it did on the third day, on the first session. Surrey’s have five wickets remaining, four if Elgar, absent through illness on the third day, cannot bat. If they can stretch their innings much beyond lunch Somerset may be faced with a difficult equation and will need to get through Morkel’s new ball spell, and Morkel has a record for Surrey of performing at the crunch, whatever the equation. It would be a good time for Trescothick to find some form after his four successive low scores in this season’s Championship.

At the heart of Somerset’s performance was an outstanding century from Gregory, his second in first-class cricket following his 137 at Lord’s in 2017. He came to the wicket on the second evening with Somerset five wickets down and still 169 runs adrift. He was still undefeated on 129 mid way through the third afternoon when Somerset ended their innings 18 runs ahead. It was a tremendous performance which had the crowd cheering and, as he ran through for the single to bring up his hundred, on their feet applauding.Read More »

The artists keep Somerset in the game – just

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Second day. 15th April – The artists keep Somerset in the game – just

Overnight. Surrey 330 for 6.

Somerset ended the second day more or less where they ended the first. Just behind Surrey. Anxiety still remains for Somerset supporters for Surrey have their runs on the board. However, Somerset are still in the game. Buy the end of the second day in last year’s two Championship encounters with Surrey, by the end of the second day, they were well and truly out of it.

Unable to be at the start I followed the first half an hour or so from home by when Surrey had taken their overnight score forward by ten runs without losing any more wickets. I spent a rather anxious journey to the ground wondering just how high Clarke and the Surrey lower order might take the Surrey total. Anxiety used to be ended, or increased, when the old scoreboard hove into view as you approached the Brian Rose Gates. The new scoreboard by the Colin Atkinson Pavilion is hidden from view by the Somerset Stand as you approach the gates and the anxiety is prolonged until you get into the ground. Today the kindly steward who scanned my membership card compensated for the loss of the view by saying, “Not too bad. Nine down.”Read More »

White clothing and red ball

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Toss. Surrey. Elected to bat.

First day. 14th April – White clothing and red ball

It was a curious sight that greeted me as I stood chatting on Legends Square. 13 men in white and two in white coats. Rather like a hospital ward walking onto the field. At least that was the thought that jumped into my head after a whirlwind three weeks criss-crossing the southern half of the country and the Midlands as I tried to keep up with Somerset’s 50 over campaign. I had become inured to technicolour cricket. Coloured clothing and a white ball. Now we had white clothing and a coloured ball. As if that was not enough my brain had struggled to keep up with the high-speed, almost daily, cricket watching, ping-pong travel, overnight stays and late-night writing of match reports. I can, without a hint of exaggeration, say that at one match I had to ask someone which day of the week it was. And now my brain was struggling to accommodate cricket being played in whites. Oh, what a mad cricketing world we live in. At least for those of us who remember when Championship matches started every Wednesday and Saturday and one-day matches were played every Sunday and, for cup matches, on a Wednesday in place of the Championship. There could be as long as 28 days between a quarter-final and a semi-final. This year there were not many more than 28 hours. All the old reference points have gone and the sudden reappearance of two of the few that are left, white clothing and a red ball, suddenly jarred on the mind.Read More »

Having a whale of a time

Royal London One-Day Cup. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. Semi-final. 12th May 2019. Trent Bridge.

Toss. Nottinghamshire. Elected to field.

Having a whale of a time

Alex Hales played the first three balls of Roleof van der Merwe’s over quietly back down the pitch. It felt like he had signalled the end for Nottinghamshire. It marked a sea-change in his approach. Until then his batting had been belligerent and had threatened to become devastating. It had reminded me of something someone said on the Somerset supporters’ coach on the way up: “We don’t want to see 30 overs of Alex Hales batting.” Azhar Ali seemed to sense the change as he shouted encouragement to van der Merwe. The change in Hales’ approach was startling. Until then he had tried to dominate the Somerset bowling at every opportunity. He had demonstrated the capacity to take control of the match. The fear of the Somerset supporter was that, unchecked he would do precisely that. Now he was feeling his way, perhaps giving himself time to re-assess the situation after Ben Duckett had announced himself by mishitting van der Merwe to Craig Overton who took a finely judged catch right on the rope. Nottinghamshire found themselves 125 for 3 in the 20th over still needing another 213 with the required run rate rising past seven and a half. Read More »

Unity of purpose

Royal London One-Day Cup. Worcestershire v Somerset. Quarter-final play-off. 10th May 2019. Worcester.

Toss. Worcestershire. Elected to field.

Unity of purpose

In the old days this match would have been a major event on the cricketing landscape. Quarter and semi-finals were anticipated for weeks in advance. The great set-piece battles of the domestic cricketing landscape. Victory or defeat remained enshrined in the memory of the county supporter for weeks and months afterwards. Sometimes years, even decades afterwards. Read More »

A Somerset performance to match the splendour of the Quantocks

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Surrey. 5th May 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

A Somerset performance to match the splendour of the Quantocks

And so it was all or nothing on this match. From a Somerset perspective it was an old-style knock-out match. Realistically, a win would mean a place in the play-offs, a defeat would mean elimination. That focuses the mind. No second chances. No next game in which to rectify matters. Just win or have a week watching others trying to reach the final. For Surrey there was nothing to play for but, as they say, pride. I have often wondered about that. How focused teams really are when there is nothing on the game for them. As far as I could see there was no lack of effort or focus from Surrey. They came at this game hard. Read More »

Outplayed

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Hampshire. 5th May 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

Outplayed

Bewilderment and dismay would best sum up the feelings of every Somerset supporter I spoke to after the Somerset innings and again after the Hampshire innings. It had been as if the two innings had been played on two different pitches. The Somerset innings was a disjointed, directionless, stop-start affair which fizzled out with barely a single coherent extended passage of play. The Hampshire innings knew exactly where it was going and went there virtually untroubled and at speed, doubtless helped by the fact that it did not have far to go. A target of 217, in this day and age, is unlikely to trouble any team on any but the most troublesome of pitches. By the end it was clear that the pitch for this match did not provide a reason for this defeat.Read More »

Nightmare on Watling Street

Royal London One-Day Cup. Middlesex v Somerset. 1st May 2019. Radlett.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

Nightmare on Watling Street

It was like the reverse of being in one of those nightmares in which, however fast you run, the plodding steps of the chasing ogre always closes the gap until you wake up in a cold sweat. At Radlett it was Somerset who did the plodding in pursuit of the Middlesex ogre which raced increasingly far into the distance and never really looked like being caught. There was no cold sweat. Just a sinking feeling, which started when the Middlesex openers snatched control of the game, and which sank deeper and deeper as the day wore on. There was never any respite for Somerset.Read More »

Slow pitch blues

Royal London One-Day Cup. Gloucestershire v Somerset. 28th April 2019. Bristol.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

Slow pitch blues

“Does this bus stop at Nevil Road for the cricket?” I asked the bus driver. “I hope so, because I don’t know what I am going to do with this lot if it doesn’t,” was the reply as he pointed to about a dozen assorted men all dressed more or less as I was. Observation is not necessarily my strong point it seems. “We can expect some fireworks today then, can we?” was the question put to me by a Gloucestershire supporter when I told him, in answer to his previous question, that Somerset had topped 350 from 39 overs in their last match.Read More »

Trego and Azhar make their mark

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Essex. 26th April 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Essex. Elected to field.

Trego and Azhar make their mark

The text I sent said, “Lost toss. Batting. Green pitch. Lights on. Overcast. Rain forecast.” The unspoken part of it referred to the conventional wisdom that in one-day cricket with the DLS system in play and rain about it is best to bat second when any effect of the weather might be better known. In this match, and the last, Somerset have shown that where the first innings is uninterrupted and a large score is posted the loss of early wickets by the team batting second can have a devastating effect on their prospects.Read More »

A batting and bowling masterclass

Royal London One-Day Cup. Sussex v Somerset. 24th April 2019. Hove.

Toss. Sussex. Elected to field.

A batting and bowling masterclass

Tom Paxton again. Last year a concert of his ended up with my being involved in one of those mad rushes to Taunton for the first day of the season, from the wrong end of the country, that had marked the days of my exile. This year his concert put me at the right end of the country for the match but having to relive the London commuting days of my exile. Would I then known the antidote to a 1200 strong tide of people pouring off a train threatens to swamp you. A Wyvern hat on your head and a Somerset umbrella held out before you cuts a swathe through the most determined flood of people late for work. One of them even managed a shout of “Somerset!” and a ‘thumbs-up’. There were perhaps 700-800 people in the ground when the match started although that grew later. A Sussex supporter told me there had been 4000 in the sun at the weekend. On this day two coats were needed.Read More »