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
Even the rain could not stop Somerset this time. It blew through with such force that the damp it 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.
The view, or the lack of it, of the Blackdowns is as good a predictor of imminent weather as is that of the Quantocks if you are in the top of the Trescothick Pavilion. At breakfast the Blackdowns could not be seen. By the end of the match they and the Quantocks could be seen perfectly. It was all Somerset needed as the age-old rituals of cricket were played out to a fault, even though, once the threat of rain had passed through, the result was a foregone conclusion. It took the Somerset bowlers four overs and two balls to take the last two wickets and leave Somerset clear leaders of their group, and ahead of the leaders of the other two groups, with one match to be played. In short, Somerset’s future in this competition is now in their own hands.
To set down the final reckoning, Gloucestershire’s Shaw clipped Craig Overton to midwicket where Bartlett took the catch. Then Taylor, with an indeterminate prod at a ball outside off stump from Brooks edged it wide of Lammonby at fifth slip. Lammonby took an excellent catch and the match was over. Lammonby has had a match to remember. In Gloucestershire’s first innings he took his first first-class wicket. In Somerset’s second innings he scored his maiden first-class century, and now, he had taken the catch which ended the match in Somerset’s favour.
It has been four days to savour and the rain clouds are now but distant memories. Somerset will travel to Worcester full of confidence for a winner-takes-all match, at least in terms of qualifying for the final.
Result. Somerset 237 (G.A. Bartlett 100*, D.A. Payne 4-44, R.F. Higgins 4-72) and 223 for 1 dec (T.A. Lammonby 101*, T.B. Abell 101*). Gloucestershire 76 (C. Overton 4-25, J.H. Davey 3-21) and 70 (C. Overton 5-26, J.H. Davey 4-25). Somerset won by 314 runs. Somerset 20 points. Gloucestershire 3 points.