A batting and bowling masterclass

Royal London One-Day Cup. Sussex v Somerset. 24th April 2019. Hove.

Toss. Sussex. Elected to field.

A batting and bowling masterclass

Tom Paxton again. Last year a concert of his ended up with my being involved in one of those mad rushes to Taunton for the first day of the season, from the wrong end of the country, that had marked the days of my exile. This year his concert put me at the right end of the country for the match but having to relive the London commuting days of my exile. Would I then known the antidote to a 1200 strong tide of people pouring off a train threatens to swamp you. A Wyvern hat on your head and a Somerset umbrella held out before you cuts a swathe through the most determined flood of people late for work. One of them even managed a shout of “Somerset!” and a ‘thumbs-up’. There were perhaps 700-800 people in the ground when the match started although that grew later. A Sussex supporter told me there had been 4000 in the sun at the weekend. On this day two coats were needed.Read More »

Count no chickens

Royal London One-Day Cup. Glamorgan v Somerset. 21st April 2019. Cardiff.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

Back to the edge of my seat

This was a Somerset win of the old kind. Not to be bestowed on supporters without an extended stomach-wrenching occupation of the narrowest of narrow edges of the seat. Not to mention an assault on the blood pressure which ought to be illegal in this day and age. “Self-inflicted,” the extent of the sympathy I received when I finally arrived home and slumped in a chair.Read More »

Relentless

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Kent. 19th April 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Kent. Elected to field.

Relentless

“Kent didn’t really turn up did they?” said the person with me as Davey caught Milnes to give Craig Overton his fifth wicket, Somerset their tenth and the match by 264 runs. It was true in both senses of the phrase. Firstly, in the literal sense, five key Kent players were unavailable for various reasons. Secondly, in the sporting sense, the Kent team that did enter the field of play, at least when it came out to bat, did not appear to perform. The truth of it though was not that Kent didn’t ‘turn up’, but that Somerset did not permit them to play. It was an utterly uncompromising Somerset performance cast in the mould of the Championship victory over Nottinghamshire the previous weekend. Somerset simply overpowered Kent.Read More »

Somerset CCC match reports

Daily reports on most days of Somerset matches in the County Championship, Royal London One Day Cup (50 overs) and Vitality Blast (T20) in 2019 will appear on this site. The most recent match report will normally appear immediately below this post and earlier ones below that.

The timing of the appearance of new reports will vary depending on other commitments after a day’s play. However, as far as possible, posting times will be as follows:        

County Championship matches: All days except the final day: normally the following morning. The final day: normally the following day but possibly later especially for away matches.                                                                                                                                        

Royal London One Day Cup and Vitality Blast: Normally the following day but may be later especially for away matches.

N.B. Posting times for all reports can be affected by non-cricket-writing commitments and wifi availabilty as well as travel arrangements for away matches.
                                                                                                                                                            

Leach unleashed

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 11th, 12th and13th April 2019. Trent Bridge.

Final day. 13th April – Leach unleashed

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 263 and 25 for 2. Somerset 403. Nottinghamshire trail by 115 runs with eight second innings wickets standing.

It was just after noon when I sent the text about the pitch based on the first hour of play. No wickets had fallen and the expectation of wickets felt on the evening before was no longer there. The only bowler who looked like he might take a wicket was Overton. The batsmen did not look in any real trouble although their scoring had been severely restrained by the accuracy and intensity of Somerset’s hard-running pace attack. My text suggested a long day in the field, the long Abell-Bartlett partnership still strong in the memory. It also suggested Broad might find something in the pitch with the unwritten thought that he might test Somerset if a target were too great. Such were the thoughts of an incessant Somerset worrier. The response to my text was instantaneous. “Leach”. Abell’s response was just as instantaneous. He put Leach on at the Pavilion End.Read More »

Abell and Bartlett turn the tide

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th April 2019. Trent Bridge.

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 263. Somerset 74 for 3. Somerset trail by 189 runs.

Second day. 12th April – Days don’t come much better than this

“Days don’t come much better than this,” said the text. And they don’t. Somerset entered the second day of this match barely clinging on to parity. They ended it in a position of dominance. The change was almost entirely due to the quiet determination, skill and patience of Somerset’s captain, the 25-year-old Tom Abell, and 21-year-old George Bartlett. They carried on with the bat where they had left off the previous evening; with quiet, controlled, purposeful accumulation.Read More »

Momentum to Nottinghamshire

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th April 2019. Trent Bridge.

First day. 11th April – Momentum to Nottinghamshire

“Notts are in the ascendancy,” was the comment made by a fellow Somerset supporter as I made to leave the ground. And that is how it felt. Not just from the score but from the manner of its making. Nottinghamshire had made their 268 all out at all but four an over. Somerset’s 74 for 3 in response had been made at well under three. The Nottinghamshire batsmen attacked the bowling throughout their innings irrespective of the fall of wickets. It was rather reminiscent of Somerset’s approach in the first innings against Kent. In this match Somerset made a much more circumspect start. Nottinghamshire’s third wicket fell at 51 in the 11th over. Somerset’s at 36 in the 15th. Momentum is said to be important in shaping cricket matches. At the end of the first day Nottinghamshire have it in this one.Read More »

Somerset and the will to win

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Kent. 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th April 2019. Taunton.

Final day. 8th April – The will to win

Overnight. Somerset 171 and 171 for 7. Kent 209. Somerset lead by 133 runs with three second innings wickets standing.

There are times when cricket can truly lift the spirits to the heights. If you were a Somerset supporter this was one of those times. Somerset had spent the latter part of the third day desperately trying to pull this match back from the brink of defeat. For that is what the nadir of 32 for 4 in their second innings, still six behind Kent, had represented. The faces of most in the crowd had spoken of resignation to defeat. Tinged perhaps with hope but hope limited to that which could only be provided by a miracle.

It is clear now, looking back, that the Somerset team had other thoughts. Thoughts of turning a lost cause into a winning one through their own efforts. There would be no reliance on miracles on that side of the boundary. The fightback had started at the fall of that fourth wicket. By the close of the third day Somerset had reached 171 for 7, 133 runs into the lead in bowler friendly conditions. Much would depend on what those last three wickets could add on the final morning.Read More »

A repair job for Somerset

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Kent. 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th April 2019. Taunton.

Third day. 7th April – Repair job

Overnight. Somerset 171. Kent 84 for 2. Kent trail by 87 runs with 8 first innings wickets standing.

It was a morning of sustained Somerset brilliance. The bowlers, particularly Gregory, Davey and Overton attacked, pressurised and harried the Kent batsmen. It is true the conditions favoured the them. The Quantocks had retreated behind the haze that had shrouded them on the second afternoon. On the third day the scene was even darker than on the second. Taunton’s newly installed lights were on before mid-day and they stayed on until mid-afternoon and, as the evening light faded, for the final over. How many extra hours of Championship cricket they will afford Somerset in a season would be worth monitoring. It may be enough one day to give Somerset the time they need to win a Championship, or to avoid relegation.

I arrived an hour before the start, the Sunday bus timetable and the gathering Taunton marathon seeing to that. It may have been darker than the previous morning but it was much warmer too. The wind had dropped. In two coats it was actually quite pleasant and two teams of cricketers playing football brought an air of familiarity which had been strangely absent from the scene on the previous morning.Read More »

Somerset rush their fences

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Kent. 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th April 2019. Taunton. 

First day. 5th April – No play. Rain. 

Second day. 6th April – ‘Rushing your fences’

There was a heavy mist on the Quantocks as if they had not quite kicked off their winter duvet in time for the start of the season. The point, which, viewed from the top of the Somerset Pavilion, sits neatly on the end of the Sir Ian Botham Stand, was virtually invisible as it slumbered in the mist. The ground was just as somnolent. The crowd rather lazily gathered itself together.Read More »

Somerset legends: Peter Trego

It was the dark flowing locks that first caught my attention. It was almost as far back as the start of the current millennium. I specify the current millennium because it does seem that Peter Trego has been around an awfully long time. I was sitting in the old River Stand at Taunton and Trego was running in hard from the River End. I don’t remember the match, just the locks, and the bowler putting everything into his bowling. He looked like he had a future in the game.Read More »

Somerset’s ‘Dorian Gray’ portrait

 RLODC. Taunton. 10th May 2017. Somerset v Hampshire.

This match was played a few days after Somerset’s stunning performance against Glamorgan at Cardiff. Tolstoy is joined by Oscar Wilde and the occasional artist. At the time Taunton’s scoreboards were famously erratic.

On Friday after Somerset’s all but perfect performance at Cardiff I reported that Leo Tolstoy, denier of perfection, turned in his grave. Today at Taunton Oscar Wilde must have smiled in his for we had the cricketing version of The Picture of Dorian Gray.Read More »

Somerset stun Tolstoy

RLODC. Glamorgan v Somerset. 5th May 2017. Cardiff. 

This match took place in the 2017 Royal London One-Day Cup. The references to matches against Surrey and Kent are to matches which took place earlier in the 2017 competition. The references to the Taunton scoreboards are to their propensity to break down at the time. A shortcoming now rectified by the installation of new scoreboards. 

And for those who were not there …

“If you look for perfection you will never be content,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina. It is a dictum many cricket followers would do well to remember. No bowler can bowl as well as the critic at the back of the stand. No batsman bat as well as the one in the bar. Then on the field there is always the long hop or the full toss to irritate. The one left on to the stumps or the charged down the wicket to be stumped to exasperate. We watch a game perfect in every respect in our minds yet riddled with imperfections in the playing. Not though if you were a Somerset supporter at Glamorgan’s Sophia Gardens of old on Friday. Somerset’s performance was all perfection or as near to it as any cricket is ever likely to be.Read More »

Pink ball blues

This poem was originally posted on grockles.com ahead of the first round of County Championship matches played with a pink ball in June 2017. I am not sure why I did not think of the simple solution to finding rhyming words for poems earlier. Use the same word 43 times in 12 lines, well, if you include the plurals…

The Pink Ball Blues or The Batsman’s Lament

Swinging ball, seaming ball, spinning ball, skidding ball.
Old ball, new ball, soft ball, hard ball.
No ball, wide ball, dead ball, lost ball.
Quicker ball, bouncing ball, slower ball, flighted ball.Read More »

Biblical rain and Somerset’s Nimrod

The weather forecast for Somerset’s RLODC 50-over match against Middlesex at Lord’s in 2017 was cataclysmic to biblical proportions. A series of low top order partnerships had led to much discussion among Somerset supporters about where in the top order Dean Elgar, Somerset’s then overseas player, should bat. His sharing of a name with England’s greatest composer (discuss) led to him being referred to by some as ‘Nimrod’. 

I penned a ditty to mark the prediction. The prediction of the forecasters and my poem came to pass and the question of Elgar’s batting position was never resolved.Read More »

Sky view of the County Ground

T20 International. England v South Africa. 23rd June 2017. Taunton.

As Somerset CCC prepare to host three one-day internationals and install floodlights at the Cooper Associates County Ground here is a reminder of the last mens’ international to be played at Taunton. Or at least of the impression its staging made when viewed on television.

I bought a day of pay tv to watch the T20 International. £6.99. It was worth every penny.Read More »

The ‘League of Nations’ and the Battle of the Shilling Ticket

County Championship. Somerset v Kent. 20th, 22nd and 23rd June 1959. Taunton. First Day.

My father was a musician and a good one by the account of those who knew about such things. The consequence was that his entire sense of timing was applied to his music. He had none left for anything else. As a result we were late everywhere we went and for everything we did. Cricket was not spared.

20th June 1959 dawned full of expectation and my heart beat fast. It was the day of my second visit to the County Ground. My grandfather and father had come armed with Somerset membership cards. The only flaw in the plan was that getting to the ground depended on my father driving us. His sense of time absent, as always, we arrived 35 minutes late. Details like that stick in the mind when it is only your second Somerset match.Read More »

Cider and hops ~ 1967-83

Somerset v Kent in one-day cricket – from the 1967 Gillette Cup Final to the 1983 NatWest Trophy Final

From 1967 to 1983 Kent were one of Somerset’s main one-day rivals. It was a decade and a half marked by periodic set-piece matches between two great one-day sides. The Somerset teams of the time contained such great Somerset names as Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Tom Cartwright, Peter Denning, Vic Marks, Joel Garner, Hallam Moseley, Derek Taylor, Roy Virgin, Mervyn Kitchen, Peter Roebuck, Graham Burgess, Colin Dredge, Brian Close, Brian Rose and in the very first match Bill Alley and Ken Palmer. For Kent there were Colin Cowdrey, Mike Denness, Asif Iqbal, Alan Knott, Derek Underwood, Alan Ealham, Bob Woolmer and John Shepherd; and for both sides, as they say, many others.Read More »

Somerset rampant

RLODC (50 overs) South Group. Somerset v Surrey. 18th May 2018. The Oval.

In 2018 Somerset made their best start to a County Championship season for a quarter of a century. This was the first match of the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

My coach from Somerset carefully times its journey to ensure I miss the first 15 minutes of any match starting at eleven o’ clock at The Oval. I arrived at the ground in a slightly disoriented state after changing tube trains at Kennington. I had hopped on the next clearly indicated ‘southbound’ train only for an equally clear announcement to inform me the train was going northbound to Ealing Broadway and the next stop was Elephant and Castle. As the overs slipped by I jumped off at ‘Elephant and Castle’ with the intention of running to the southbound platform only to discover I was already on it and at Oval station. The next announcement said a normal service was running on all lines.

I took off for the sanctuary of The Oval only to find the authorities there had pitched in with a bit more disorientation. No bag search. A white ball match without a bag search. What is the world coming to? I really began to wonder when I reached the top of the steps into the Peter May Stand. The scoreboard said 13 for 3.Read More »

A hint to the England cricket selectors

As England continue to struggle in the West Indies I have decided to follow up my acrostic poem, ‘Hildreth for England’, hint to the selectors of a week ago with a more direct nudge in the form of a six verse song penned two years ago. For those old enough to remember try this to the tune of ‘The British Grenadiers’.

                                                   HILDY

Some talk of Vivian Richards and some speak of Gimblett,
Of Botham and Bill Alley and many others yet.
But of Somerset’s great heroes, there’s none finessed and played
With the glorious art and poetry that Hildy’s bat arrays. Read More »