Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Final ~ Somerset v Essex ~ A Herculean Struggle

All Bob Willis Trophy matches were played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching the ECB’s enhanced 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.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P. Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Overnight. Somerset 301 and 227 for 7. Essex 337 for 8 inns closed. Somerset lead by 191 runs with three second innings wickets standing.

Final day – A Herculean struggle

This was another day of push and counter-push between two sides who had given their all in this match in pursuit of the Bob Willis Trophy. The day had begun with half an hour of cricket rather akin to a concert support act before the main event. Interesting and competitive in itself, but never likely to rival what was to follow. That is not to decry the batting of Overton and Davey who played well enough in lifting the Essex target ahead of the anticipated declaration; or the bowling of Harmer and Porter, who bowled tightly to limit the target and perhaps reduce the length of time their batsmen would have to bat. But the main issue of the day, irrespective of whether Essex made an attempt on the target, would be: could Somerset take ten wickets? Any other outcome would see Essex winning the trophy.

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Bob Willis Trophy Final 2020 ~ Somerset v Essex ~ Fourth Day ~ Lammonby keeps the trophy room door open for Somerset

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 the ECB’s enhanced 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.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P. Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Overnight. Somerset 301. Essex 271 for 6. Essex trail by 30 runs.

Fourth day. 26th Sept. – Lammonby keeps the trophy room door open

Another glorious century for Tom Lammonby lit up the afternoon of another day of dimpsy autumnal weather. But whilst Lammonby shone brightly for Somerset, it was Essex who gained the high ground in the match by taking a first innings lead. From that moment, under the tie-breaker rules for the final, Somerset had to force victory to win the Bob Willis Trophy. For Essex, a draw would suffice. The start was not auspicious for Somerset. With Essex needing 31 runs for the lead, Somerset’s normally disciplined bowlers took a few overs to find their lines and strayed too often onto leg stump. Two balls deflected off the pads to fine leg, each for four leg byes, and a leg glance for four from Adam Wheater the result. A boundary driven to the Nursery End off Overton by the nightwatchman, Porter, added to the pressure on Somerset. A no ball from Lewis Gregory and the four byes which finally took Essex into the lead completed a dispiriting start for Somerset’s screen-watching supporters.

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Bob Willis Trophy Final 2020 ~ Somerset v Essex ~ Third day ~ Alistair Cook ~ A class above

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 the ECB’s enhanced 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.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P. Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Third day. 25th September – Alistair Cook – a class above

I once saw Robert Stephens, subsequently a theatrical knight, play King Lear at Stratford, co-incidentally in the same year that Marcus Trescothick first played for Somerset. I have, over a lifetime, seen most of Shakespeare’s plays. Most of the individual performances, enjoyed in the moment, have since merged into a lifetime of theatrical experience. Some still stand out, but Robert Stephens’ performance stands out above all. It was the most complete and compelling individual theatrical performance I have ever seen. So compelling, the entire cast joined in the applause, a rare occurrence in the theatre.

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Bob Willis Trophy Final 2020 ~ Somerset v Essex ~ Second Day ~ “Come on! Run, the ball!”

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 the ECB’s enhanced 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.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P. Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Overnight. Somerset 119 for 4.

Second day. 24th September – “Come on! Run, the ball!”

“Come on! Run, the ball!” I heard myself shouting at my laptop. I am not normally inclined to shout at my laptop, except perhaps after the latest update designed to ‘improve’ something that had worked perfectly well up to that point. Craig Overton had just driven Aaron Beard straight along the ground towards the Pavilion boundary. An Essex fielder was in hot pursuit and the ball was running a little more slowly than the fielder. Somerset were 184 for 5 and Overton and Byrom were building a partnership that was pulling Somerset out of the indeterminate first innings marshlands of 139 for 5 towards the more solid ground beyond 200. The involuntary shout was indicative of the gnawing tension inherent in a closely fought match on which hangs a trophy.

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Bob Willis Trophy Final 2020 ~ Somerset v Essex ~ First day ~ A dimpsy day

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 the ECB’s enhanced 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.

Bob Willis Trophy Final. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. Lord’s.

Somerset. B.F.G. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Essex. N.L.J. Browne, Sir Alistair Cook, T. Westley (c), D.W. Lawrence, P.I. Walter, R.N. ten Doeschate, A.J.A. Wheater, S.R. Harmer, A.P.Beard, S.J. Cook, J.A. Porter.

Toss. Essex. Elected to field.

First day. 23rd September – A dimpsy day

Somerset have been here before. In 2008, 2010, 2016 and again in 2019 they began the final match of the season with the possibility of winning their first County Championship. In the end of course, the trophy went elsewhere. 2020 is different. This is not the County Championship. The Bob Willis Trophy is a much-truncated affair in comparison with the County Championship. Six matches instead of fourteen. Not all the stronger teams have played each other, and no team has played another on a home and away basis. And so, instead of in a league of the strongest teams, the domestic first-class trophy is to be decided in a five-day grand final played at Lord’s.

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Bob Willis Trophy ~ Worcestershire v Somerset ~ Final Day ~ 9th September ~ Through to the final

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 Worcestershire CCC’s 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. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Overnight. Somerset 251 and 193. Worcestershire 200 and 58 for 2. Worcestershire need 187 runs to win with eight wickets standing.

Final day. 9th September – Through to the final

In the end, on the final day, Somerset pushed over their wall. Worcestershire resisted in phases, and at times raised the level of anxiety in Somerset supporters’ minds more than is comfortable. At one point the Worcestershire batsmen made a dash for the line, but throughout the innings no partnership lasted long enough to apply the persistent pressure to Somerset necessary to force a win. At the crunch, the Somerset bowling proved too strong for the Worcestershire batsmen on a pitch on which each innings total was lower than the one before. It was a day of greater tension than the end result or the cold facts of the result portray. Throughout the final day Worcestershire were under the greater pressure, but only at the very end did the task seem beyond them. Until then, however regularly Somerset took wickets, Worcestershire’s target always seemed within range of an exceptional innings or a determined partnership.

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Bob Willis Trophy ~ Worcesterhire v Somerset ~ Third day ~ 8th September ~ Lammonby’s student masterclass

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 Worcestershire CCC’s 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. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Third day. 8th September – Lammonby’s student masterclass

“I think we might have found a batsman,” said the incoming text even before Tom Lammonby had reached his century. In the end, Lammonby carried his bat at the age of 20 with Somerset under the most intense pressure, and with a place in the final of this competition at stake. It was a performance to rank with some of the best Somerset innings the author has witnessed in over six decades of watching Somerset play cricket.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Worcestershire v Somerset ~ 8th September ~ Second day ~ Irresistable

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 Worcestershire CCC’s 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. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Overnight. Somerset 251. Worcestershire 14 for 0. Worcestershire trail by 237 runs.

Second day. 7th September – Irresistible

The first hour looked like it might put Somerset’s first innings total into a worrying perspective, at least from a Somerset point of view. Somerset resumed with Davey and Overton beneath an autumnal sky. The distant, narrow bands of cloud which lined the horizon beyond the Basil D’Oliveira Stand were marble smooth and white with a tinge of grey. Across the sky, between the bands, were the narrowest strips of blue. It set a relaxed mood which the Worcestershire batting seemed to pick up as it faced Somerset bowling unable to derive much by way of help from the pitch or the overhead conditions.

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Bob Willis Trophy ~ Worcestershire v Somerset ~ First Day ~ 6th September 2020 ~ Zeitgeist of an earlier age

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 Worcestershire CCC’s 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. Worcestershire v Somerset 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th September 2020. Worcester.

Somerset. B.G.F. Green, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), G.A. Bartlett, E.J. Byrom, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey. M.J. Leach, J.A. Brooks.

Worcestershire. D.H.K. Mitchell, J.D. Libby, T.C Fell, J.A. Haynes, B.L. D`Oliveira, M.H. Wessels, O.B. Cox (w), E.G. Barnard, J. Leach (c), J.C. Tongue, D.Y. Pennington.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 6th September – Zeitgeist of an earlier age

The cricket on the first day of this match was a universe away from the frenetic boundary clearing and wide line bowling of the T20 match these two teams had fought out less than a week before. Nearly 450 runs in that match in what, in the Bob Willis Trophy, would be less than half a day’s cricket. The T20 was played in the modern high-sided stadium that is Edgbaston, although the R.E.S Wyatt Stand at the Birmingham End retains all the character of an earlier age. This match was played in front of the majestic Worcester cathedral on the other side of the Severn. The ground itself retains virtually all the character of old, including a small area of trees just beyond the boundary to the left of the Ladies Pavilion. I have taken shelter from a searing sun under those trees on more than one visit to Worcester. T20 has caught the sporting zeitgeist of the modern age, the huge and more diverse nature of its crowds is testimony to that. The Bob Willis Trophy brings with it the zeitgeist of an earlier age.

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Vitality Blast T20 ~ Somerset v Glamorgan ~ 1st September2020 ~ Taunton ~ An Abell classic for the ages

All Vitality Blast T20 matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written through watching the match on Somerset CCC’s newly enhanced live stream without access to which this 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.

Vitality Blast T20. Central Group. Somerset v Glamorgan. 1st September 2020. Taunton.

Somerset. G.A. Bartlett, S.M.Davies (w), J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, B.G.F. Green, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, O.R.T Sale, J.H. Davey, M.T.C. Waller.

Glamorgan. W.T. Root, D.A. Douthwaite, A. Balbirnie, C.B. Cooke (c) (w), K.S. Carlson, C.Z. Taylor, G.G. Wagg, A.G. Salter, M. de Lange, T. van der Gugten, P. Sisodiya.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

An Abell classic for the ages

As the sky darkened and the floodlights lit up the Cooper Associates County Ground for that latter day form of cricket, T20, Tom Abell played an innings of such classical splendour and dominance it would have graced any form of cricket in any age, including the so-called golden age of over a century ago. In these constrained times it may only have been visible through the medium of twenty-first century technology but those of us privileged to have seen it might have seen nothing better had we been lining the ring of the County Ground as Lionel Palairet strutted his stuff at the end of the nineteenth century. It secured Somerset a crucial victory in this tournament, but the innings will lodge in the mind long after the victory has been forgotten. Abell’s innings was something truly special. Read More »

Vitality Blast 2020 ~ Northamptonshire v Somerset ~ Northampton ~ 30th August ~ Not enough firepower

All Vitality Blast T20 matches are being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written through watching the match on Northamptonshire CCC’s live stream without access to which this 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.

Vitality Blast T20. Central Group. Northamptonshire v Somerset. 30th August 2020. Northampton.

Northamptonshire. R.E. Levi, P.R. Stirling, J.J. Cobb (c), A.M. Rossington (w), A.G. Wakely, Z.A. Zaib, G.K. Berg, G.G. White, N.L. Buck, B.W. Sanderson, B.D. Glover.

Somerset. G.A. Bartlett, S.M.Davies (w), J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), E.J. Byrom, B.G.F. Green, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J. Overton, O.R.T Sale, M.T.C. Waller.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

Not enough fire power

“It is difficult to win T20 matches without hitting sixes,” said the incoming text as the Somerset batsmen left the field at the end of the match still nine runs short of Northamptonshire’s 171 for 6. In this match Northamptonshire hit five sixes to Ollie Sale’s one for Somerset. The Somerset batsmen made a spirited assault on the Northamptonshire total, particularly at the beginning and the end of their innings. Northamptonshire kept their nerve under the pressure of the Somerset batsmen’s initial assault, applied pressure when Somerset needed to regroup in the middle of their innings, and resisted Roelof van der Merwe’s charge at the end. As the text implied, Somerset missed the firepower of Banton and Gregory and the commanding hand of Babar Azam’s batting.Read More »

Bob Willis Trophy ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ Final Day ~ The final reckoning

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.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ Third day ~ Deja vu

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 14 for 3. Gloucestershire need another 371 runs to win with seven second innings wickets standing.

Third day. 24th August – In the hands of Damocles

“Only Somerset could declare their second innings on 223 for 1 on the second day and then draw the match with the opposition on 97 for 9,” said the incoming text an hour into what would have been the afternoon session of the third day. It is to be hoped that the person who sent the text is not a prophet, for of the still possible results that is one of them. It was a curious sight, watching the covers on the live stream. Curious because the stands beyond them were devoid of people. Not that stands devoid of people are in any way out of the ordinary in these strange times. It was more that, in the past, if you were at a match when it rained heavily, most people headed for the nearest cover, or bar. But not everyone. There were always one or two people who sat it out in the stands, waterproofs on and umbrella up, if only to keep their seats dry. It was the absence of those people, who always seemed to be there, that struck home. Strange times indeed.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ Second Day ~ “Most Satisfactory”

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. Gloucestershire 13 for 4. Gloucestershire trail by 224 runs with six first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 23rd August – “Most satisfactory”

This was another day of stunning Somerset success. In the first three matches of this competition the opposition has been overwhelmed. It might have stood against Somerset early in a match but by the end it had been, in cricketing terms, devastated. There is still cricket to be played in this match, Gloucestershire still have seven wickets standing, but they are 371 runs short of victory in a competition in which no team has thus far scored more than 166 in an innings against Somerset. Only two opposition batsmen have passed 50, whereas six centuries have been scored by Somerset batsmen. On the basis of those statistics there will be many bruised arms in Somerset and beyond as supporters repeatedly pinch themselves to seek reassurance that they are actually awake.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Somerset v Gloucestershire ~ First day ~ “That’ll do”

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.

Toss. Gloucestershire. Elected to field.

First day. 22nd August – “That’ll do”

In the first match of the Bob Willis Trophy George Bartlett received a sickening blow on the helmet from Marchant de Lange. It stopped play for a considerable amount of time whilst he was ministered to and the required concussion tests were carried out. He carried on, but to my eye showed less fluency after the blow. He did not have quite the same composure he had shown before it. He was checked twice more and doggedly continued for some time before he was out. He has missed the two intervening matches under the ECB concussion regulations. You would not have known it on the first day of this match. He played an innings of sheer joy, at least for the watching Somerset supporter. It was an innings too of crucial importance for his team. He came to the wicket at 44 for 3, was still there at 176 for 9 and left undefeated on 100 after he and Jack Brooks had extended Somerset’s total to 237. Applause would have resounded around the ground in other times. All that could stand would have been on their feet, hands clapping above their heads as he jumped a celebratory jig in the middle of his 100th run. And again, a ball later, as the players walked off. It was a transformation to warm the cockles of a Somerset heart.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~ Final day ~ “That was cruel”

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 Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it 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.

A different type of take on a frustrating day:—

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Overnight. Warwickshire 121 and 104 for 6. Somerset 413 for 9 dec. Warwickshire trail by 188 runs with four second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 18th August – “That was cruel”

“That was cruel,” said the incoming text seconds after the match was abandoned. And it was, at least in cricketing terms. And long drawn out cruelty at that. So much potentially hung on the outcome of this match. The points position at the top of the three groups was so tight, winning or drawing might make the eventual difference between qualifying for the final and not.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~ Third day ~ The broadsword and the rapier

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 Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it 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. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Overnight. Warwickshire 121. Somerset 214 for 6. Somerset lead by 93 runs with four first innings wickets standing.

Third day. 17th August – The broadsword and the rapier

Batsmen not out overnight are always vulnerable first thing in the morning, either to a good ball or to a lapse in concentration. At least, anecdotally to my mind, it has seemed that way over the years. It was Hildreth on the second day here, Gregory on the third. In the second over, Bresnan bowled an innocuous-looking ball wide of off stump, Gregory essayed what had all the appearance of a speculative drive and the ball, from the direction in which the players looked across the screen, was caught at mid-off. Somerset 215 for 7. Van der Merwe joined Davies and drove a straight ball from Hannon-Dalby off the back foot through point for four. He attempted to steer the next ball to third man, the ball cut away off the pitch and the faint edge carried straight to Burgess behind the stumps. Somerset 226 for 8, a lead 105, and the previous evening’s hopes of a score of 300 were receding.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~ Day two ~ Glowering skies – Glorious cricket

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 Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it 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. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Overnight. Warwickshire 121. Somerset 80 for 2. Somerset trail by 41 runs with eight first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 16th August – Glowering skies – glorious cricket

A glowering sky presented itself when the live stream woke up on the second morning of this match. Then, the dreaded words presented themselves. “Start delayed. Wet outfield. Rain.” The wide-angle camera located in the Pavilion presented its view of the Birmingham skyline. A skyline that was doing battle with those clouds. Half-buildings with their heads in the clouds. I could almost feel the dank atmosphere. The sullen-looking outfield didn’t help. Neither did the Blackdowns, for they looked depressed and expectant of rain. Perhaps, like me, they knew of the importance of Somerset getting enough time on the field in this match to force a win. It is the halfway point of a five-match competition in which only two of the three group winners can progress to the final. Even five wins might not guarantee a place. Weather could be a crucial factor in determining the outcome, and the forecast for the final three days of this match is poor. The players will have had their own view, but the supporter dreamt of them only having to bat once, perhaps, dream of dreams, of reaching 300 and then letting slip the … Well, not exactly the dogs of war, but you get my drift after the Somerset bowling performance in the first Warwickshire innings.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Warwickshire v Somerset ~ First day ~ Oh, to be in Birmingham …

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 Warwickshire CCC’s live stream of the match without which it 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. Warwickshire v Somerset. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th August 2020. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M.Yates, R.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, I.R. Bell, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), T.T. Bresnan, A.T. Thomson, H.J.H. Brookes, C.N. Miles, O.H. Hannon-Dalby.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey.

Toss. Warwickshire. Elected to bat.

First day. 15th August – Oh, to be in Birmingham

The picture on the Somerset CCC website brought an immediate flood of memories. It was taken from the upper reaches of the five-storey Pavilion at Edgbaston. Beyond the far end of the ground can be seen the Birmingham skyline. If you know where to look you can pick out the iconic structure of the ultra-modern library. It is a view I have taken in from the packed members lounge on many an occasion on my annual visits to Edgbaston for Somerset’s Championship match there. I have had many an enjoyable chat in that lounge with Somerset and Warwickshire supporters both. Not today. Today, as the camera scans the empty stands it is another stark cricketing reminder of the times through which we are passing. The sun is shining, and the shadows of the players are clear on the pitch. It looks a perfect day for cricket. A perfect day to sit in my usual haunt at Edgbaston, square of the wicket in the Hollies Stand, where last year I and two or three other Somerset supporters formed an informal Somerset cricket symposium for the day. Not today. As it is, with the sun shining in Birmingham, I am ensconced in an armchair watching the Edgbaston live stream on an elderly laptop with a rain-filled sky obliterating my treasured view of the Blackdowns.

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Bob Willis Trophy 2020 ~ Northamptonshire v Somerset ~ Final day ~ Making a difference – Craig and Jamie Overton

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 Northamptonshire 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.

Bob Willis Trophy. Central Group. Northamptonshire v Somerset. 8th and 9th August 2020. Northampton.

Northamptonshire. E.N. Gay, B.J. Curran, R. Vasconcelos, R.I Keogh, C.O. Thurston, L.A Procter, A.M. Rossington (c) (w), G.K. Berg, Blessing Muzarabani, B.D. Glover, B.W. Sanderson.

Somerset. E.J. Byrom, T.A. Lammonby, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.Overton, J.H. Davey, J.A. Brooks.

Overnight. Somerset 166 and 15 for 1. Northamptonshire 67. Somerset lead by 114 runs with nine second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 9th August – Making a difference – Craig and Jamie Overton

One of the things that is supposed to give most satisfaction in life is to make a difference. There is no doubt about who made the difference in this match. I am sure there would be only one answer from a bruised Northamptonshire. Somerset won by 167 runs. Together Craig and Jamie Overton scored a total of 148 runs over the two innings. Nineteen short to be sure. But perhaps the nine wickets and five catches they took between them might make up for that. Batting and bowling, it was an outstanding performance by all the Somerset bowlers, but the Overton brothers were, as they say, up front and central to it.

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