“For the rain it raineth every day” – Somerset v Surrey – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 3

This match was 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, 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.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Surrey. 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th May 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, E.J. Byrom, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, L.P. Goldsworthy, T. Banton (w), L. Gregory, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M. de Lange.

Surrey. R.J. Burns, M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, O.J.D. Pope, B.T. Foakes, J.L. Smith, W.G. Jacks, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, K.A.J. Roach.

Overnight. Surrey 191 for 4.

Third day 15th May – “For the rain it raineth every day”

“For the rain it raineth every day,” or so Feste’s song ends Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Those words may well serve as an epitaph for this match barring some miraculous change in the forecast for the final day. Even if the heavens were to relent it would take a miracle of outlandish proportions, which even Shakespeare might have blanched at employing as a plot device, for Surrey to win this match, and even in the realms of fantasy Somerset’s horizons are now limited to bonus points and a draw.

On the third day, the powers of nature, to which cricket is almost uniquely vulnerable in sport, permitted a meagre nine overs of play before the first of the rains were unleashed. As on the second day, Davey kept to a firm off stump line or just outside and again threatened to break through. Twice the ball passed wincingly close to the outside edge as he moved the ball away. The two boundaries that came from his four overs were both off thick edges from Smith, one on the drive and one defensive. It was a microcosm of Davey’s performance. As can often be the case in overcast conditions, such runs for batsmen, and grimaces of exasperation from bowlers, came with the rations. “But that’s all one,” Feste sums up life’s misfortunes in his song, and might have said the same about the fate of bowlers in Davey’s position.

An over to Foakes apart, for which the batsman steadfastly got behind the line and defended, Gregory’s line was much wider of off stump, too wide, sometimes far too wide to interest the batsmen, the defence-focused Foakes in particular. Gregory often produced exaggerated movement away from the bat which carried the ball through to the keeper on a swerving banana-like curve, sometimes interesting first slip. Gregory bowled so wide on one occasion the umpire actually called wide, a rarity in a first-class match. Twice too he tested Banton’s agility down the leg side but did not look a threat to the batsmen. “By swaggering could I never thrive,” Feste might have added from his song. Not that Gregory was remotely swaggering, far from it, but some of his exuberant curving deliveries would have fitted Feste’s description.

When, “With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain,” to use Feste’s words, ended play for the day, they did so in style. The rain came in torrents, and added to the now more than three inches of rain that had fallen over the previous two days, left no prospect of a resumption. During the nine overs that were possible, a combination of Davey’s testing line, length and movement, and Gregory’s more idiosyncratic one found Surrey 15 runs and a bonus point further on than they had been at the start. It leaves one day of play and a forecast to match the one which ended this day. If the forecast is wrong, Surrey may apply some pressure. If it is accurate, Feste may soon have the last word with, “Our play is done.”

Close. Surrey 206 for 4.

Final Day. The match was abandoned early on the final morning after more overnight rain left a saturated outfield with large pools in places and with more rain falling at times.

Result. Surrey 206 for 4 (R.J. Burns 55). Match drawn. Somerset nine points. Surrey 9 points.