Descent Into Oblivion – Somerset v Hampshire – County Championship 2022 – 19th, 20th and 21st May – Taunton – Final Day

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 19th, 20th and 21st May. Taunton.

Sonny Baker was unavailable for selection by Somerset due to his continuing back injury.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, M.T. Renshaw, T.B. Abell (c), T. Banton, J.C. Hildreth, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, J. Leach, P.M. Siddle.

Hampshire. F.S. Organ, I.G. Holland, N.R.T. Gubbins, J.M. Vince (c), L.A. Dawson, B.C. Brown (w), A.H.T. Donald, K.H.D. Barker, J.K. Fuller, K.J. Abbott, Mohammad Abbas.

Overnight. Somerset 211. Hampshire 144 for 5. Hampshire trail by 67 runs with five second innings wickets standing.

Final day 21st May – Descent into oblivion

Early on the third morning Hampshire were 59 runs behind Somerset’s first innings total with six wickets down. There was even talk of a small Somerset first innings lead among some home supporters. Peter Siddle had just removed Ben Brown with a vociferous leg before wicket appeal, a replay showing there could have been little doubt in the umpire’s mind and, from the nature of his appeal, there was none in Siddle’s. By tea, the match was over, Somerset having staved off an innings defeat by just one run. It had been a devastating day for Somerset supporters. Disbelief, the look ingrained in every face. “Embarrassing,” the only comment I heard in my part of the River Stand, for most had been rendered speechless. The afternoon had, for Somerset, been a headlong descent into oblivion and the end came as the clock registered four minutes past four.

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A Day to Gladden the Somerset Heart – Somerset v Warwickshire – County Championship 2022 – 28th, 29th and 30th April – Taunton- First Day

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Somerset v Warwickshire. 28th, 29th and 30th April 2022. Taunton.

Sonny Baker and Peter Siddle were unavailable for selection by Somerset due to being injured.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, M.T. Renshaw, T.B. Abell (c), T. Banton, J.C. Hildreth, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.M. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), A.L. Davies, S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), N.J. McAndrew. C.N. Miles, D.R. Briggs, O.J. Hannon-Dalby,

Toss. Warwickshire. Elected to field.

First day 28th April – A day to gladden the Somerset heart

This was a day to gladden the Somerset heart. After those seven successive defeats the Somerset batting raced ahead of Warwickshire and barely missed a step as they went. Only James Hildreth did not deliver full measure from his innings, and his contribution was not inconsequential. Matt Renshaw brought back memories of his astonishing first sojourn with Somerset four years before with a century of measured class, his fourth in six home matches for the County. Tom Lammonby, who has been battling to establish himself as an opener, posted his first fifty of the season and crucially, with Renshaw, saw Somerset through to lunch without the loss of a wicket. There was a typically robust half century from Tom Abell, and by the end of the day Somerset had registered four batting points, kept six wickets in hand for the morrow and left the Warwickshire attack, Oliver Hannon-Dalby apart, flailing in their wake.

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Pure Theatre – Somerset v Warwickshire – County Championship 2022 – 28th, 29th and 30th April – Taunton – Final Day

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Somerset v Warwickshire. 28th, 29th and 30th April. Taunton.

Sonny Baker and Peter Siddle were unavailable for selection by Somerset due to being injured.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, M.T. Renshaw, T.B. Abell (c), T. Banton, J.C. Hildreth, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.M. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), A.L. Davies, S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), N.J. McAndrew. C.N. Miles, D.R. Briggs, O.J. Hannon-Dalby,

Overnight. Somerset 458. Warwickshire 197 for 9. Warwickshire trail by 261 runs with one second innings wicket standing.

Final day 29th April – Pure theatre

There are moments in a cricket match which stick in the memory for years afterwards. Craig Kieswetter, on returning from his ultimately career-ending eye injury, depositing the first bouncer he received into the flats at Taunton. Ian Botham, with the scores level, blocking out the final over of the 1983 Nat West Cup semi-final at Lord’s to ensure Somerset won the match having lost eight wickets to Middlesex’s nine. Pure theatre. There was one such moment on the third day of this match. With a potential washout forecast for the scheduled final day, Warwickshire were approaching tea, still 134 runs behind Somerset’s first innings total, with their second innings sixth-wicket pair beginning to look a little too comfortable for comfort, at least from a worrisome Somerset supporter’s perspective.

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Tom Abell – Somerset’s Eddystone Rock – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2022 – 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th April – The Oval – First Day

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th April 2022. The Oval.

Lewis Gregory and Sonny Baker were unavailable for selection by Somerset through injury.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, M.T. Renshaw, T.B. Abell (c), T. Banton, J.C. Hildreth, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, J.H. Davey, J. Leach, P.M. Siddle, J.A. Brooks.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), R.S. Patel, H.M. Amla, O.J.D. Pope, B.T. Foakes (w), S.M. Curran, W.G. Jacks, J. Overton, J. Clark, J.P.A. Taylor, R.J.W. Topley.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day 21st April – Tom Abell – Somerset’s Eddystone rock

There are better places to stay in London than Greenwich, or at least more convenient ones, if the purpose of your visit is to watch Somerset at The Oval. They are both in South London, but South London is a big place and there is quite a lot of it between the two. There is some consolation I suppose if the road that runs alongside your hotel is called Waller Way. I wonder what he did to impress himself upon the citizens on the meridian. Part of the expanse of South London that lies between Greenwich and The Oval, if you are dependent on public transport, is London Bridge station. Ten minutes by train from Greenwich and 15 minutes by bus from The Oval so it has its uses.

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Eyeball-to-eyeball cricket – Somerset v Essex – County Championship 2022 – 14th, 15th and 16th April – Taunton – First Day

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 14th, 15th and 16thApril 2022. Taunton.

The following were unavailable for selection by Somerset through injury. Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Josh Davey and Sonny Baker, the last of whom will be unavailable for the immediate future. Matthew Renshaw has joined the squad, Craig Overton and Jack Leach have been approved to play by the ECB and Lewis Gregory and Jack Brooks have recovered from illness.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, M.T. Renshaw, J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, P.M. Siddle, J. Leach.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir A.N. Cook, T. Westley, D.W. Lawrence, A.M. Rossington, M.J.J.Critchley, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, S. Snater, M.T. Steketee, S.J. Cook.

Toss. Essex. Elected to field.

First day 14th April – Eyeball-to-eyeball cricket

“This is worse than last week,” said the person who had been at Southampton with me. Somerset’s fifth wicket had just fallen with the score on 49 and lunch was still some way off. At Southampton, Somerset’s fifth first innings wicket had fallen at 61 on the stroke of lunch. The comment was both descriptive and prescient. At Southampton, Somerset reached 180 and the end of the innings signalled the tea interval. Here they were out for 109 and the tea interval was still 18 overs away. Looking around, the ground seemed as unprepared for the start of the season as the Somerset top order, although the Quantocks, resplendent in their April oilseed yellow, were reassuringly in attendance for the start of play. The River Stand was in the process of having new seating put in, but one section of it still consisted of bare concrete. Gimblett’s Hill is in the process of being reconfigured to make it accessible. The images of the new design have clean lines, and look impressive, but for the start of the season it consists of a remodelled base and neatly stacked piles of bricks. The scoreboard at the end of the Hill remained steadfastly blank throughout the match, perhaps awaiting the reconfigured Hill before it springs to life.

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Overton – a force of nature – Somerset v Essex – County Championship 2022 – 14th, 15th and 16th April – Taunton – Final Day

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 14th, 15th and 16th April 2022. Taunton.

The following were unavailable for selection by Somerset through injury. Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Josh Davey and Sonny Baker, the last of whom will be unavailable for the immediate future. Matthew Renshaw has joined the squad, Craig Overton and Jack Leach have been approved to play by the ECB and Lewis Gregory and Jack Brooks have recovered from illness.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, M.T. Renshaw, J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, P.M. Siddle, J. Leach.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir A.N. Cook, T. Westley, D.W. Lawrence, A.M. Rossington, M.J.J. Critchley, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, S. Snater, M.T. Steketee, S.J. Cook.

Overnight. Somerset 109 and 154.  Essex 180 and 3 for 1. Essex need 81 more runs to win with nine second innings wickets standing.

Final day 16th April – Overton – a force of nature

The crowd was larger than might be expected for a final day with a foregone conclusion, namely a Somerset defeat, and little more than an hour’s play in prospect on a warm and sunny Bank Holiday Saturday. A rough count suggested in the region of 500 well spread around the ground, perhaps a few more. “You never know,” someone said as I climbed the stairs to the top of the Trescothick Pavilion. “You don’t,” I replied, “especially with Somerset!” After all, Somerset cricket is so much easier to understand if you expect the unexpected. Not that Craig Overton uprooting Sam Cook’s off stump with the second ball of the morning was entirely unexpected. Overton is a force of nature with the ball, and his first ball had flown off the edge of Alistair Cook’s bat like the proverbial bat out of hell, fallen short of slip and run down to third man in front of the Colin Atkinson Pavilion for a single.  

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Demolished. Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2022 – 7th – 9th April. AGEAS Bowl. Final day.

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 7th, 8th and 9th April 2022. Southampton.

The following were unavailable for selection by Somerset. Matthew Renshaw (with Australia), Lewis Gregory and Jack Brooks (ill), Craig Overton and Jack Leach (required to rest by England), Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Josh Davey and Sonny Baker (injured).  

Hampshire. J.J. Weatherley, I.G. Holland, J.M. Vince (c), N.R.T. Gubbins, L.A. Dawson, B.C. Brown (w), J.K. Fuller, F.S. Organ, K.H.D. Barker, K.J. Abbott, Mohammad Abbas.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, K.L Aldridge, P.M. Siddle, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange.

Overnight. Somerset 180 and 15 for 0. Hampshire 428. Somerset trail by 233 runs with ten second innings wickets standing.

Third day 9th April – Demolished

Despite yesterday’s late revival, this was as dispiriting a day for Somerset supporters as any at the end of 2021. The makeshift team had kept its head up on the second day under the most intense pressure from a powerful Hampshire side. On the third day, after initial resistance, it crumbled. The team will be stronger for the match against Essex which follows this one. There are uncertain times ahead in English domestic cricket and supporters will rest more easily if the result in that match begins the process of re-establishing Somerset’s position as one of the stronger teams in the top division.

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And the heads stayed up – Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2022 – 7th – 9th April – AGEAS Bowl. Second day.

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th April 2022. Southampton.

The following were unavailable for selection by Somerset. Matthew Renshaw (with Australia), Lewis Gregory and Jack Brooks (ill), Craig Overton and Jack Leach (required to rest by England), Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Josh Davey and Sonny Baker (injured).  

Hampshire. J.J. Weatherley, I.G. Holland, J.M. Vince (c), N.R.T. Gubbins, L.A. Dawson, B.C. Brown (w), J.K. Fuller, F.S. Organ, K.H.D. Barker, K.J. Abbott, Mohammad Abbas.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, K.L Aldridge, P.M. Siddle, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange.

Overnight. Somerset 180. Hampshire 109 for 0. Hampshire trail by 71 runs with ten first innings wickets standing.

Second day 8th April – And the heads stayed up

For all the travails of this match, and Somerset have really been under the cosh, I did not see a single head go down on the second day, young or old, and Somerset were never silent in the field. They have been outfought by a stronger team, but they stood toe-to-toe with Hampshire all day and got some reward for it in the end. It was bitterly cold sitting in the stands for seven hours, but I would not have missed a ball of it.

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A chill start – Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2022 – 7th – 9th April. AGEAS Bowl. First day.

County Championship 2022. Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th April 2022. Southampton.

The following were unavailable for selection by Somerset. Matthew Renshaw (with Australia), Lewis Gregory and Jack Brooks (ill), Craig Overton and Jack Leach (required to rest by England), Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Josh Davey and Sonny Baker (injured).  

Hampshire. J.J. Weatherley, I.G. Holland, J.M. Vince (c), N.R.T. Gubbins, L.A. Dawson, B.C. Brown (w), J.K. Fuller, F.S. Organ, K.H.D. Barker, K.J. Abbott, Mohammad Abbas.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, K.L Aldridge, P.M. Siddle, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day 7th April – A chill start

Whoever designed the transport system did not envisage Somerset supporters travelling from Somerset to the AGEAS bowl. When I came here for the experimental round of pink ball Championship matches in 2017, I came by car. The journey was 100 miles. It took five hours. The A303, alternately dual carriageway and single carriageway, was trying to do the job of a motorway in West Country summer traffic. This year, for the first Championship match of the season, my railway journey seemed to have been designed around randomly laid stretches of track which, by chance, happened to meet each other here and there. I can report that Romsey and Eastleigh are not stations where you would want to spend an extended layover, although Westbury has friendly staff, a small buffet and toilets that are open. Fortunately, the trains ran rather better than the plan to which the track had been laid. Sixteen, 16 and eight minutes were the extent of my connection times, and all four trains ran perfectly to time.

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Sinking Feeling – Somerset v Nottinghamshire – County Championship 2021 – Phase 2 – Division 1 – Taunton – 30th and 31st August and 1st September – Final Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 30th, 31st August, and 1st September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, T. Banton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, M de Lange, J. A. Brooks.

Nottinghamshire. B.T. Slater, B.M. Duckett, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Clarke, L.W. James, S.J. Mullaney (c), T. J. Moores (w), L.A. Patterson-White, B.A Hutton, L.J. Fletcher, D. Paterson.

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 448. Somerset 87 for 7. Somerset trail by 361 runs with three first innings wickets standing.

Final day 1st September – Sinking feeling

It was a gloomy start to the day, both in the sky and in the stands. Looking up, the cloud seemed higher than at the start of the second day, but the light looked no better. Looking out, the light had dressed the Quantocks in drab maroon, dull green and misty grey. They caught the mood. Looking around, there was a resigned air as Somerset faced a 361-run first innings deficit with just three first innings wickets standing.

For the first time this season I was sitting in the top of the Trescothick Pavilion, back to my old haunt after nearly two years watching on a screen from beyond the closed doors, or from a seat allocated elsewhere. It was a curious, unexpected sensation, as if the coronavirus interregnum had never happened. Familiar faces, not seen in all that time, in familiar seats with familiar waves of recognition, as if I and they had last seen each other only yesterday. It gave the spirit a lift.

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The Lights go out for Somerset – Somerset v Nottinghamshire – County Championship 2021 – Phase 2 – Division 1 – 30th, 31st August and 1st September – Day 2

The Lights go out for Somerset – County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 30th, 31st August, and 1st September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, T. Banton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, M de Lange, J. A. Brooks.

Nottinghamshire. B.T. Slater, B.M. Duckett, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Clarke, L.W. James, S.J. Mullaney (c), T. J. Moores (w), L.A. Patterson-White, B.A Hutton, L.J. Fletcher, D. Paterson.

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 282 for 6.

Second day 30th August – The lights go out for Somerset

The second day, particularly the second part of it, had the feeling of Horsham 2013. The pattern of the two matches is different, but the abyss between the performances of the two sides is of a similar order. The Horsham rout left a scar on the psyche of Somerset supporters who were there, including the author, which is yet to fully heal. The second day of this match re-opened the wound for some, including the two who mentioned it to me as we were preparing to leave the ground at the end of the day. Whilst for much of the Nottinghamshire innings there was a feel of balls being bowled against an impenetrable brick wall, Somerset’s first innings had the feel of an ill-formed wall being systematically demolished. Even the sky mimicked the dull cloud of Horsham.

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“You Bears!” – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September – Final Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th  September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Overnight. Warwickshire 367. Somerset 239 for 5. Somerset trail by 128 runs with five first innings wickets standing

Final day 24th September – “You bears!”

After the two sides had fought each other to a standstill over the first eight sessions of this match, Warwickshire spectacularly grabbed the initiative on the third evening. A match that had been heavily contested at around three runs an over was suddenly racing along at six, with the Somerset fielders falling back towards the boundary in an attempt to contain a cascade of Warwickshire runs. On a pitch on which only 21 wickets had fallen on the first three days, Warwickshire’s ease of scoring suggested that bowling Somerset out in the fourth innings might be no easy task. It was a task that would stand between Warwickshire and the County Championship.

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Championship Cricket at its Best – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – September 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th – Third Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Overnight. Warwickshire 367. Somerset 239 for 5. Somerset trail by 128 runs with five first inning wickets standing.

Third day 23rd September – Championship cricket at its best

By the start of the third day, developments at Aigburth over the first two days had clarified Warwickshire’s task. To be certain of the Championship, they would need to take all three bowling points, for which they needed to take four more wickets in the first 33 overs of the day, and beat Somerset. If they failed to take all three bowling points but still won, they would need Lancashire to win at Aigburth to be champions. If they failed to take all three bowling points and Hampshire beat Lancashire, Hampshire would be champions. A draw at Aigburth could effectively be discounted, for with Hampshire already nearing the end of their second innings in a low-scoring game, no batting points were recorded by either side, a positive result was as certain as anything is in cricket. Somerset had only the prospect of reversing the run of dispiriting defeats that had been their lot in this divisional stage of the Championship.

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In the balance – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – September 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th – Second Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Somerset dropped James Hildreth for this match after a run of low scores. He was replaced by Lewis Gregory who was not fit to bowl.

Overnight. Warwickshire 283 for 4.

Second day 22nd September – In the balance

The Somerset bowlers had toiled long and hard on the first day and might have met with more reward than the four wickets they eventually took. Warwickshire had batted with equal intent, and perhaps with some fortune, at least in the eyes of Somerset supporters. Their patience had resulted in a score from which they might hope to reach 350 in 110 overs and four batting points which, given the match situation at Aigburth between Lancashire and Hampshire, would keep the destination of the Championship in Warwickshire’s hands. They would though also have to win this match if, as seemed likely, either team won at Aigburth.

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Hard Grind – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September – First Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Somerset dropped James Hildreth for this match after a run of low scores. He was replaced by Lewis Gregory who was not fit to bowl.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

First day 21st September – Hard grind

The day did not start well. A battle with the hotel Wi-Fi, or the lack of it, and a phone call to their helpline, was not the most auspicious of starts, and more time-consuming than you would think necessary in the age of artificial intelligence. Then the automatic till at the shop where I went to buy some lunch for the cricket refused to weigh two bananas. What it had against bananas I don’t know. Fortunately, it had no problem with the vegetable samosas or the Bakewell tart I had opted for. Then there was the bus, or the lack of it, or them. Two were promised within ten minutes, but the promise miraculously disappeared from the digital indicator board just before the buses were due. Neither arrived, although another was promised. At least I now know where Godot was waiting while Estragon and Vladimir were waiting for him.

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Cold Reality – Somerset v Lancashire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – 12th, 13th and 14th September – Final Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 12th, 13th and 14th September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange, J. A. Brooks.  

Lancashire. G.P. Balderson, A.L. Davies (w), L.W.P. Wells, J.J. Bohannon, D.J. Vilas (c), R.P. Jones, S.J. Croft, D.J. Lamb, T.E. Bailey, J.M. Blatherwick, M.W. Parkinson.

Overnight. Lancashire 373. Somerset 90 and 226 for 4. Somerset trail by 57 runs with six second innings wickets standing.

Final day 14th September – Cold reality

It was a day which began with resignation written across faces, perhaps tinged with faint hope. Hope that the remaining Somerset batsmen might overcome the outstanding deficit of 57 and set Lancashire a target which would at least ask them a question or two. The resignation came not just from a huge first innings deficit, but also from the two innings defeats which preceded this match. The batting statistics of those two matches had been bleak indeed. Individually, Marchant de Lange had bludgeoned more runs than any other player in the Somerset team. His 36 against Nottinghamshire was the highest individual score. To add to the gloom, Somerset had been dismissed for 90 in the first innings of this match, a deficit of 283, with only Azhar Ali (39) and Lewis Goldsworthy (15) reaching double figures. It was a picture to deaden the beat of even the most optimistic Somerset heart. The faint hope came from Somerset’s second innings 246 for 4 and Tom Lammonby’s coruscating second day century, during which he had made the all-conquering Lancashire bowlers of the first innings look less than ordinary. His partnerships with Ben Green and Azhar Ali, which had brought 194 runs before the fall of the second wicket, had finally lifted the spirits, and roused the cheers, of the Somerset crowd.

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Lammonby Revives as Somerset Falter – Somerset v Lancashire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – 12th, 13th and 14th September 2021 – Second Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 12th, 13th and 14th September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange, J. A. Brooks.  

Lancashire. G.P. Balderson, A.L. Davies (w), L.W.P. Wells, J.J. Bohannon, D.J. Vilas (c), R.P. Jones, S.J. Croft, D.J. Lamb, T.E. Bailey, J.M. Blatherwick, M.W. Parkinson.

Overnight. Lancashire 364 for 8.

Second day. 13th September – Lammonby revives as Somerset falter

The second day did not start as I would have hoped. A hospital appointment in the middle of the morning. Not ideal, especially in September. Had it not been for the half-past ten start, to the cricket that is, not the appointment, I might have made the last half hour before lunch. As it was, I relied on texts from the cricketer who had accompanied me on the first day, now watching from home on the live stream. They read, for the most part, like transcripts of morse code dispatches from the front in a bygone age. “Blatherwick caught slips 1,” said the first. “Bailey b de Lange 63. All out 373,” soon followed. A good start to the day, although 373 would present a considerable challenge to Somerset in September, but at least the final two wickets falling so quickly had brought some relief to the Somerset soul.

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Lancashire Rampant – Somerset v Lancashire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – 12th, 13th and 14th September – First Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 12th, 13th, and 14th September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange, J. A. Brooks.  

Lancashire. G.P. Balderson, A.L. Davies (w), L.W.P. Wells, J.J. Bohannon, D.J. Vilas (c), R.P. Jones, S.J. Croft, D.J. Lamb, T.E. Bailey, J.M. Blatherwick, M.W. Parkinson.

Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory and Josh Davey, Somerset’s three first-choice pace bowlers in 2021 were unavailable for this match. Ned Leonard made his first-class debut.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

First day 12th September – Lancashire rampant

No matter how far into September the cricket season stretches, the half-past ten start is always liable to catch me out, especially on a sun-filled morning like this one. It shouldn’t. The ten-thirty start happens every year. And yet, every year it comes as a surprise. And so, I and the cricketer watching the match with me, walked through the Brian Rose gates just in time to see Ned Leonard deliver a ball from the River End to Lancashire’s 20-year-old left-hander, George Balderson. The cricketer is only an occasional live-watcher and so has more of an excuse than I for not registering the half past ten start. Balderson is presumably more attuned to cricket at such an hour, for he had already found the boundary four times, once with a neat on drive which had flowed along the ground to the cricket afficionados who inhabit the benches on Gimblett’s Hill. Somerset’s debutant pace bowler, Leonard, the victim of Balderson’s early forays.

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The Day the Dream Died – Yorkshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Scarborough – 5th and 6th September – Final Day

Due to being unable to travel to Scarborough for this match this report was written through watching Yorkshire CCC’s live stream with Yorkshire CCC being advised, and after the stream became unavailable for the final session from the evening highlights package. Without the live stream and highlights 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.

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 5th and 6th September 2021. Scarborough.

Yorkshire. A. Lyth, G.C.H. Hill, T. Kohler-Cadmore, G.S. Ballance, H.C. Brook, D.M.Bess, H.G. Duke (w), J.A. Thompson, D.J. Willey, M.D. Fisher, S.A. Patterson.

Somerset. T.B Abell (c), T.A. Lammonby, Azhar Ali, J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), T. Banton, B.G.F. Green, M.J. Leach, J.H. Davey, M de Lange.

Overnight. Somerset 134. Yorkshire 159 for 5. Yorkshire lead by 25 runs with five first innings wickets standing.

Final day. 6th September – The day the dream died

This was effectively the day Somerset’s 2021 County Championship dream died. Two matches remain, but by the end of this round any remaining hopes will be, at best, mathematical. At the start of the day Somerset could still cling to a slender hope. By the end, Harry Brook, Jordan Clarke, the Yorkshire lower order and the terminal pressure applied by the Yorkshire bowlers had won the match. The 2021 Championship dreams of Somerset supporters were no more.

In ancient times, societies used to look for omens when on the brink of great events. With a colossal pre-lunch effort needed if Somerset were to turn this match around, Marchant de Lange opened the bowling. Had an ancient priest or priestess been called upon to read Somerset’s auguries for the day, de Lange’s first three balls going down the leg side, one for four byes, would have had them holding their heads in their hands. De Lange never found his mark in his standard four-over opening spell. Even a brief rain break at the end of the second over did not allow him to reset his radar. One ball did move away beautifully to beat Duke, but otherwise the ball tended to either go down the leg side, or swing too wide of off stump to trouble the batsmen who showed no interest in anything that did not threaten them.

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