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.
*B.G.F. Green played on the final two days as a concussion replacement for G.A. Bartlett.
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,
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 just before the end 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.
Overton bowled from the River End, the end from which Craig Overton had taken five wickets with similar commitment and determination in the first innings. Jamie was to emulate him in the second. With two wickets to his name overnight, the first to feel the sharp end of his bowling was Graham Wagg. The ball, perhaps a foot wide of off stump, moved away slightly off the seam, lifted off the pitch, Wagg pushed at it and edged it through to Steven Davies behind the stumps. Somerset had broken through in the fifth over of the morning and reduced Glamorgan to 140 for 6, still 315 runs behind.
Overton’s other wicket was the Glamorgan captain, Chris Cooke. Cooke was the only Glamorgan batsman in the match who could be said, without argument, to have competed with the Somerset bowlers on equal terms as his off drive to the Colin Atkinson boundary off Overton on the final morning showed. Indeed, Overton turned in his follow-through to applaud Cooke on the stroke. My notes mention Cooke, “Going serenely on.” That may perhaps be an overstatement in the context of the quality of bowling he was facing, but in comparison with the rest of the Glamorgan batting, he did just that. In the end, Overton coaxed a hint of movement off the seam away from the right-hander. Just enough to take the edge of Cooke’s defensive push and for Hildreth to take the catch, falling to his right at first slip. Glamorgan were 153 for 7 with the last hope of meaningful resistance gone.
The other wickets fell to Josh Davey and Jack Brooks. Ruaidhri Smith got a top edge trying to turn Davey behind square, the ball looped in the air and came down a few yards out on the on side in line with the bowler’s stumps as van der Merwe ran through from midwicket to take the catch and, as he ran by the stumps, throw the ball to the umpire. The final wicket went to Brooks. Hogan stepped back to drive into the off side and edged the ball towards the slips, Jamie Overton dived to his left from second slip and took the catch almost in front of Hildreth at first and Somerset had won by 289 runs.
It was as comprehensive a win as could be hoped for. It does need to be seen in the context of Glamorgan being a second division County Championship side. But also, in the context of four Somerset first team players, at least three of whom could have expected to play in this match, being unavailable due either to playing for England or being in an England coronavirus protective bubble.
Finally, a few words about watching cricket on the live stream. Nothing can replace being at a match, but that apart, it was an excellent way to watch cricket in these times. I was able to sit quite happily through an entire session without a break, just as I would if I were in the top of the Trescothick Pavilion. And then two more sessions in the day. The new multiple camera angles helped hugely. Over the last decade or so, Somerset have developed an outstanding ground infrastructure and a wonderful team. That the club had the capability, and the desire, to develop this year’s live stream enhancements should not therefore come as a surprise.
As to watching all four days without a word of commentary? I have nothing against commentary. I find it an essential adjunct to pictures if I want to carry out an unrelated task whilst watching the cricket, or to just sit back and have a relaxing hour or two watching a match without having to concentrate too hard. But, for the purpose of writing these reports I wanted to feel, as far as I could, that I was actually at the ground where I do have my eyes on the cricket every minute of the time, and where I am normally in my seat from the beginning to the end of a session. I also wanted to build up my own image of the shape of the match, just as I do when I am at the ground.
It took a bit of getting used to but by the end of the first day I found that all the usual distractions that apply when watching cricket from home had been completely blotted out of my mind. My focus was entirely on the cricket. Every ball. Apart from the few I missed through being late opening the stream at the start of play after finishing my report on the previous day at four o’clock in the morning, or getting back to my laptop a few balls late after lunch. Rather like the few I miss at a match through arriving late for the start for the same reason, or through climbing the full height of the Trescothick Pavilion steps after a lunchtime circumnavigation of the ground.
I can honestly say that by the end of the second day my mind was at the cricket, concentrating hard, and my notebook was full of notes, even if my body was sitting in an armchair. And on the final morning, after another four o’clock finish to my report, as I tore myself from my bed, for a few moments my brain started to calculate how much time I had before I needed to leave for the ground. I had, as the cricketers say, to put in the hard yards on the first day to get used to it all, but what a reward has followed. And what a benefit too, for I have watched this match from the comfort of an armchair as it was magically transferred by the technical wizards behind the live stream from the top of the Marcus Trescothick Pavilion to a box in the Sir Ian Botham Stand, and back again, in time with the players changing ends between overs. And a stunning Somerset win too. Wonderful.
Result. Somerset 296 (S.M. Davies 81*, J.A. Brooks 72, T.A. Lammonby 41, R.A.J. Smith 3-41) and 290 for 8 dec (T.B. Abell 119, B.G.F. Green 54, J.C. Hildreth 45, K.A. Bull 3-112). Glamorgan 131 (C. Overton 5-38) and 166 (C.B. Cooke 82, J. Overton 5-48). Somerset won by 289 runs. Somerset 21 points. Glamorgan 3 points.