Pummelled – Somerset v Nottinghamshire – County Championship 2021 – Second Phase First Division – 30th, 31st August and 1st September – Taunton – First Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 30th, 31st August, and 1st September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, T. Banton, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach, M de Lange, J. A. Brooks.

Nottinghamshire. B.T. Slater, B.M. Duckett, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Clarke, L.W. James, S.J. Mullaney (c), T. J. Moores (w), L.A. Patterson-White, B.A Hutton, L.J. Fletcher, D. Paterson.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

First day 30th August – Pummelled

In the days of uncovered pitches batting first on winning the toss was virtually de rigueur. Captains ignored W.G. Grace’s dictum on the toss at their peril. The decision is not always so clear-cut in these days of covered, well-prepared pitches, but inserting the opposition can still be a hazardous business. Imagine Tom Abell having to explain himself before W.G. after the disastrous insertions at Guildford in 2018 and Headingley in 2019. Interestingly, given the weight of history on the subject, in Somerset’s ten group stage Championship matches this season, the side winning the toss inserted the opposition eight times. When that news reaches the cemetery at Beckenham in which W.G now resides, the bearer may expect to be approached by a remonstrating apparition of the great man demanding an explanation. It might help pacify him if it is explained that on four of those eight occasions the side inserted lost the match, although in three cases leading on first innings. The other four matches were drawn, although two were so heavily impacted by the weather there was never a prospect of a result.

Read More »

“We are loving this”

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Leicestershire. 4th, 5th,  6th and 7th July 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), L.P. Goldsworthy, J.C. Hildreth*, G.A. Bartlett, T.A. Lammonby, C. Overton (c)/K.L. Aldridge*, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, J.A. Brooks.  *C. Overton was called into the England ODI squad before the start of day 3. J.C. Hildreth replaced him as captain and K.L. Aldridge replaced him as a player.

Leicestershire. R.K.Patel, L.J. Hill, M.S. Harris, C. Ackermann (c), J.P. Inglis, H.J. Swindells (w), B.W.M. Mike, C.F. Parkinson, G.T. Griffiths, E. Barnes, W.S. Davis.

Overnight. Somerset 461 for 9 dec. Leicestershire 390 for 7. Leicestershire trail by 71 runs with three first innings wickets standing.

Final day 7th July – “We are loving this?”

The scene for the final day was set by the weather forecast which, with some certainty, predicted perhaps half a day’s play at best. With Leicestershire’s first innings still to be completed and the follow-on having been saved early on the previous evening, all that seemed to remain for decision was the nature of the draw that would result. Leicestershire had the best of the remains of the match, and their two supporters sitting behind me who had travelled from Leicester to watch their team away from home for the first time this year lapped up every moment of it. “We are loving this,” one of them said as the Leicestershire score passed 450, “We are not used to it. It is usually us on the receiving end.”

Read More »

Somerset lose ground – Leicestershire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th July – Third day

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Leicestershire. 4th, 5th,  6th and 7th July 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), L.P. Goldsworthy, J.C. Hildreth*, G.A. Bartlett, T.A. Lammonby, C. Overton (c)/K.L. Aldridge*, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, J.A. Brooks.  *C. Overton was called into the England ODI squad before the start of day 3. J.C. Hildreth replaced him as captain and K.L. Aldridge replaced him as a player.

Leicestershire. R.K.Patel, L.J. Hill, M.S. Harris, C. Ackermann (c), J.P. Inglis, H.J. Swindells (w), B.W.M. Mike, C.F. Parkinson, G.T. Griffiths, E. Barnes, W.S. Davis.

Overnight. Somerset 461 for 9 dec. Leicestershire 95 for 3. Leicestershire trail by 366 runs.

Third day 6th July – Somerset lose ground

Somerset began the third day of this match in the ascendancy, although some would have wanted an early wicket to confirm that assessment. The players took the field in the face of a chill, almost autumnal breeze and enough grey cloud to give the bowlers some encouragement. Leicestershire began with concentrated defence while the Somerset bowlers were quickly on the mark. The bat was beaten several times and a running mix-up brought hands to foreheads and the comment, “If the throw had hit, he was gone.” It was tight cricket,12 runs the meagre proceeds of the first nine overs.

Read More »

“That was going into the next field”

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Leicestershire. 4th, 5th,  6th and 7th July 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), L.P. Goldsworthy, J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, T.A. Lammonby, C. Overton (c), R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, J.A.Brooks.

Leicestershire. R.K.Patel, L.J. Hill, M.S. Harris, C. Ackermann (c), J.P. Inglis, H.J. Swindells (w), B.W.M. Mike, C.F. Parkinson, G.T. Griffiths, E. Barnes, W.S. Davis.

Overnight. Somerset 242 for 7.

Second day 5th July – “That was going into the next field.”

The anticipation of a game in the balance from the previous evening still hung in the air as I took my seat in the lower deck of the Trescothick Pavilion. Somerset 242 for 7 overnight was a difficult score to read. The second day conditions were more conducive to batting, of which Leicestershire were expected to do the main part, with the atmosphere still warm, but less humid. There was cloud, though high and white, with enough gaps for the sun to shine through. Leicestershire held the advantage thought the head, but the heart reminded that this Somerset team had won from far less propitious positions.

Read More »

A Day of Two Halves – Somerset v Leicestershire – County Championship 2021 – 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th July – Taunton – First Day

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Leicestershire. 4th, 5th,  6th and 7th July 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), L.P. Goldsworthy, J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, T.A. Lammonby, C. Overton (c), R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, J.A.Brooks.

Leicestershire. R.K.Patel, L.J. Hill, M.S. Harris, C. Ackermann (c), J.P. Inglis, H.J. Swindells (w), B.W.M. Mike, C.F. Parkinson, G.T. Griffiths, E. Barnes, W.S. Davis.

Toss. Leicestershire. Elected to field.

First day 4th July – A day of two halves

It was a day of two halves. 134 for 0 before the afternoon rain. 108 for 7 after. It left Somerset on 242 for 7 at the close. Exceptional batting in conditions more challenging than the score suggested before the rain. Persistent line and length bowling with some movement and lift eventually producing results after it. In the afternoon sun it felt ten degrees warmer, and the humidity brought sweat to the brow. Whether that had a say in the proceedings or not, the volte face in the nature of the cricket left a tantalizing prospect for the second day, for which the ever-changing forecast hinted at a drier, if not entirely dry day.

Read More »

An Unexpected Turn of Events – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – The Oval – 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July – Final Day

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Somerset 429. Surrey 239 for 8. Surrey trail by 190 runs with two first innings standing.

Final day 14th July – An unexpected turn of events

The unpredictability of cricket never ceases to surprise. At the start of the final morning, Surrey added one more run while Somerset took the final two Surrey wickets. Van der Merwe and Leach ended with four and six wickets respectively. Moriarty was trapped leg before wicket by van der Merwe and Virdi by Jack Leach. Nothing out of the ordinary thus far, although Somerset supporters would have been pleased, and Surrey ones disappointed, at the speed with which the final two wickets fell. The players left the field to applause from the small, well spread-out crowd. Expectant applause from Somerset supporters, more anxious from Surrey ones. The prospect of a tense Surrey rearguard was on everyone’s minds as they faced a deficit of 189 runs on a pitch now enabling the spinners to ask serious questions. 

Read More »

A Battle of Attrition – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July – The Oval – Third Day

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Somerset 429. Surrey 24 for 0. Surrey trail by 405 runs with all first innings wickets standing.

Third day 13th July – A battle of attrition

This was a day for which Jack Leach must have yearned over the previous two months. At the start of the match he had not bowled a red ball in anger since 9th May. The interim consisted of time in the England coronavirus protective bubble without playing any cricket, a batch of Vitality Blast T20 matches of which he played one, and a period in precautionary isolation during which he was restricted to practicing with a tennis ball in his garden. Such was the preparation which brought him into this match. He ended the third day with figures of 33-19-42-5. It was an exceptional effort and put the icing on the cake of Somerset’s qualification for the first division of the second phase of the 2021 County Championship, an eight-point pitch regulations penalty from 2019 being swept away in the process. 

Read More »

A Day of Changing Moods and Rhythms – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July – The Oval – Second Day

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Somerset 280 for 6.

Second day 12th July – A day of changing moods and rhythms

Somerset further strengthened their grip on qualification for the first division of the second phase of the 2021 County Championship when Roelof van der Merwe pushed Ravi Ashwin straight of mid-on for a single to gather Somerset’s third batting point. It came in the 108th over of the innings and so left them needing two bowling points to be mathematically certain. When Hampshire ended the day still 130 runs short of five batting points with only five wickets and 16 of the first 110 overs remaining it seemed unlikely Somerset would need more than one bowling point. In the wider context, there had been news on the first day that Kent had had to replace their entire team because of COVID issues. On the second day, the Derbyshire v Essex match was abandoned due to the Derbyshire team being withdrawn from the match for the same reason. That, and fast-rising numbers of COVID infections nationally, caused some to ask if the second phase of the Championship might be similarly affected, or even take place at all.

Read More »

Hildreth Shapes the Day – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – The Oval – 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th July – First Day

This match was played with socially distanced allocated seating due to the coronavirus regulations.

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day 11th July – Hildreth shapes the day

Sitting high in the Peter May Stand square of the wicket was a joy to gladden the heart even with the wicket pitched nearly a hundred yards away with a grey, if unthreatening, overcast sky and a crowd spread far and wide by social distancing. The great gasometer, empty and unused these days, stood as a silent monument to generations of cricketers past. It had already stood in its present form for 34 years when in 1926 Somerset’s Jack White, coming on to bowl the eighth over of the Surrey first innings, took 7 for 42 in three balls over 36 overs with his orthodox slow left arm bowling. Only Jack Hobbs, with 70 out of a Surrey total of 136, stood long against him.

Read More »

Safety First – Somerset v Hampshire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 4

This match was played with restricted crowd numbers due to the coronavirus regulations in force. Somerset members were allocated tickets by ballot. The author was successful in the ballot for all four days of the match.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Hampshire. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June 2021. Taunton.

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

Craig Overton and Jack Leach were with the England squad for the two-Test match series against New Zealand and so not available for selection for this match

Hampshire. I.G. Holland, C.T. Steel, T.P. Alsop, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Vince (c), L.A. Dawson, L.D. McManus (w), K.H.D. Barker, F.S. Organ, K.J. Abbott, B.T.J. Wheal.

Overnight. Somerset 360 and 323 for 6. Hampshire 311. Somerset lead by 372 runs with four second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 6th June – Safety first

The match was, to all intents and purposes, over as a contest before a heavy downpour effectively ended play for the day, the captains agreeing to conclude proceedings when a restart was scheduled for after five o’clock. The resulting draw left Somerset ten points clear at the top of their group table with two rounds of matches still to be played. That Somerset intended to make the match safe before making any attempt to win was evident from the outset. Bartlett and Banton, new to the crease after Davey’s dismissal to the last ball of the previous evening, batted with no sign of aggressive intent. They added just 19 runs in the first ten overs.

Read More »

Somerset Rampant – Somerset v Hampshire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 3

This match was played with restricted crowd numbers due to the coronavirus regulations in force. Somerset members were allocated tickets by ballot. The author was successful for all four days in the ballot.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Hampshire. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June 2021. Taunton.

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

Hampshire. I.G. Holland, C.T. Steel, T.P. Alsop, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Vince (c), L.A. Dawson, L.D. McManus (w), K.H.D. Barker, F.S. Organ, K.J. Abbott, B.T.J. Wheal.

Overnight. Somerset 360. Hampshire 285 for 7. Hampshire trail by 75 runs with three first innings wickets standing.

Third day. 5th June – Somerset rampant

This has been another match worthy of the County Championship at its best. Good, hard cricket. Sometimes flamboyant, sometimes dour, but always with intensity as its hallmark. First Hampshire knocked Somerset back on their heels by reducing them to 113 for 7 before a coruscating counterattack from Gregory and van der Merwe left Hampshire facing a mountain 360 runs tall at the end of the first day. Then Hampshire spent a long, hot second day clawing their way back into contention as they ground out 285 runs for the loss of seven wickets against some persistently accurate bowling from the Somerset pace attack. Only van der Merwe’s slow left arm provided any respite from the constant pressure.

Read More »

Hard Grind – Somerset v Hampshire – County Championship – Taunton – Day 2

This match was played with restricted crowd numbers due to the coronavirus regulations in force. Somerset members were allocated tickets by ballot. The author was successful in the ballot for all four days of the match.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Hampshire. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June 2021. Taunton.

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

Hampshire. I.G. Holland, C.T. Steel, T.P. Alsop, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Vince (c), L.A. Dawson, L.D. McManus (w), K.H.D. Barker, F.S. Organ, K.J. Abbott, B.T.J. Wheal.

Overnight. Somerset 360.

Second day. 4th June – Hard grind

This was a day of cricket of a different stamp to the first. A day for roundheads rather than cavaliers. The sun shone all day, the Somerset pace bowlers stuck hard to their task and the Hampshire batsmen to theirs. In one respect the day was a mirror image of the first. The bowlers worked up an advantage before the batsmen turned them back. The cricket though was of a very different brand. Whereas on the first day the later Somerset batsmen had conducted a headlong charge, the Hampshire ones, for over after over, defended their ground. 360 runs for ten wickets in 84.2 overs on the first day. 285 runs for seven wickets in 96 overs on the second. The heights of the first day were not reached on the second, but the cricket enthralled nonetheless as the two sides pressed for supremacy in a match which might have a significant impact on whether either or both proceeds to the top tier in the second phase of this year’s County Championship.

Read More »

Fortune and Ferocity – Somerset v Hampshire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 1

This match was played with restricted crowd numbers due to the coronavirus regulations in force. Somerset members were allocated tickets by ballot. The author was successful in the ballot for all four days.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Hampshire. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June 2021. Taunton.

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

Craig Overton and Jack Leach were with the England squad for the two-Test match series against New Zealand and so not available for selection for this match

Hampshire. I.G. Holland, C.T. Steel, T.P. Alsop, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Vince (c), L.A. Dawson, L.D. McManus (w), K.H.D. Barker, F.S. Organ, K.J. Abbott, B.T.J. Wheal.

Toss. Hampshire. Elected to field

First day. 3rd June – Fortune and ferocity

“You couldn’t make it up,” said the man next to me of Somerset’s near-miraculous recovery as Marchant de Lange’s first six, off Kyle Abbott, disappeared over long off and into the churchyard. “More! More!” demanded someone from the Somerset Stand as if they were calling for an encore at a folk concert. And an encore there was. Two balls later Abbott bounced de Lange. De Lange hooked and an enormous six cleared the long square boundary, the wide area of outfield beyond it and hit the upper reaches of the Caddick Pavilion on the full. Applause and cheers filled the air and there was not an unsmiling face in the house. The crowds were back at Taunton, and they had been right royally rewarded with a day of cricket straight from the land of fantasy which might have filled many of their heads during the long coronavirus interregnum. This was Somerset through and through, for the close of play score of 360 all out had been built from the crumbling foundations of 43 for 5 and 113 for 7. The rains of May had stayed away too, although June was not yet as glorious as it likes to claim.

Read More »

Rain-spattered but Wonderful – Gloucestershire v Somerset – Nevil Road, Bristol – County Championship 2021 – Day 4

This match was played with restricted crowd numbers due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. Tickets were initially offered in a ballot but were ultimately generally available. 

County Championship Group 2. Gloucestershire v Somerset. 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd May 2021. Bristol.

Gloucestershire. K.C. Brathwaite, C.D.J. Dent (c), J.R. Bracey (w), T.C. Lace, I.A. Cockbain, R.F. Higgins, M.A.H. Higgins, T.M.J. Smith, M.D. Taylor, D.A. Payne, D.J. Worrall. 

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

Overnight. Somerset 300 for 8 dec. Gloucestershire 16 for 2.

Final day. 23rd May – Rain-spattered but wonderful

Hardened cricket followers know a terminal weather forecast when they see one, especially when it has remained unchanged for three days and is linked to a smooth grey sky that stretches from horizon to horizon. Billowing grey clouds bring hope of better weather to come, or at least of gaps in the rain. Smooth grey cloud from which rain falls steadily offers no hope once it has set in. The final day of this match began with just such a forecast and just such a sky. Pessimists would have expected little or no play, optimists that the match might last until lunchtime. On this day, the pessimists prevailed.

Read More »

Abell Leads the Way – Gloucestershire v Somerset – County Championship 2021- Nevil Road, Bristol – Day 3

This match was played with restricted crowd numbers due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. Tickets were initially offered in a ballot but were ultimately generally available.

County Championship Group 2. Gloucestershire v Somerset. 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd May 2021. Bristol.

Gloucestershire. K.C. Brathwaite, C.D.J. Dent (c), J.R. Bracey (w), T.C. Lace, I.A. Cockbain, R.F. Higgins, M.A.H. Higgins, T.M.J. Smith, M.D. Taylor, D.A. Payne, D.J. Worrall. 

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

Overnight. Somerset 45 for 1.

Third day. 22nd May – Abell leads the way

“Shot!” The crowd had truly come alive. It is a shout which has been synonymous with watching County Championship cricket since at least 1958 when I attended my first match. It punctuates the buzz, chatter and applause that ripple around a ground as a match unfolds. It was not in evidence at all in 2020. It was not much, if at all, in evidence on the first day of this match when the cricket had to battle with a gale, poor light, flying mizzle and enveloping rain. On the first day, after a season and a half of being on the outside of the closed doors, just being at the match was enough. On this, the second day of play, although the third scheduled day, the sun shone. Not all the time, but for much of it. Enough for the skin on my face to tighten through the evening as I drew together my thoughts and notes for this report.

Read More »

It’s Good To Be Back – Gloucestershire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Nevil Road, Bristol – Day 1

This match was played with restricted crowd numbers due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. Tickets were initially offered in a ballot but were ultimately generally available and still for sale online on the morning of the match.

County Championship Group 2. Gloucestershire v Somerset. 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd May 2021. Bristol.

Gloucestershire. K.C. Brathwaite, C.D.J. Dent (c), J.R. Bracey (w), T.C. Lace, I.A. Cockbain, R.F. Higgins, M.A.H. Higgins, T.M.J. Smith, M.D. Taylor, D.A. Payne, D.J. Worrall.  

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

Toss. Gloucestershire. Elected to field.

First day 20th May – It’s good to be back

In some ways nothing had changed. In others everything had. I arrived at the ground, as was always my wont, in a tight race with the umpires, players, clouds and rain for the eleven o’clock start. Nothing new there. I was not the only one. I arrived outside Nevil Road’s Ashley Down Road entrance with a last-minute surge of similarly anorak-attired, backpack-carrying men, most of them just beyond a certain age. Nothing new there either. What was totally new was the small element of variety that had been introduced. It consisted of an array of different colours and designs of face masks and coverings with which the faces were adorned. The new world meeting the returning old. A quick scan of my ticket and an exchanged smile with the steward who scanned it and I was in. The old world again.

Read More »

“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.

Read More »

Advantage Surrey – Somerset v Surrey – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 2

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. No play. Rain.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

Second day 14th May – Advantage Surrey

Eighty-six millimetres of rain fell at Dunkeswell in the Blackdowns, beginning during the evening before this match was due to start, through the night and on through most of the first day. When play was abandoned just after lunch, pools had formed, including large ones in front of the Colin Atkinson Pavilion deep enough to provide clear reflections. Despite a huge amount of work from the ground staff, visible on the Somerset CCC live stream during the morning, play could not begin until two o’clock on the second day. As the match started, another 40 millimetres or so of rain was forecast to fall over its remainder. It was not a surprise therefore that when Somerset won the toss they elected to field.

Read More »

An Exceptional Performance – Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – AGEAS Bowl – Day 4

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Hampshire 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. Hampshire v Somerset. 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th May 2021. AGEAS Bowl.

Hampshire. J.J. Weatherley, I.G. Holland, T.P. Alsop, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Vince (c), L.A. Dawson, F.S. Organ, L.D. McManus (w), K.J. Abbott, K.H.D. Barker, Mohammad Abbas.

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

Overnight. Hampshire 79 and 110 for 4. Somerset 336. Hampshire trail by 147 runs with six second innings wickets standing.

Final day 9th May – An exceptional performance

When Josh Davey trapped Mohammed Abbas leg before wicket late on the final afternoon, Hampshire’s long rearguard action which stretched across 131 overs was finally at an end. It left Somerset needing two runs to win. But that final Hampshire wicket was almost followed by a sting in the tail for Somerset. As the players went off for the change of innings a huge dark cloud hung over the Atrium of Hampshire’s Pavilion. The sword of Damoclese itself could not have hung more threateningly over Somerset’s hopes.

Read More »

Waiting to see the light – Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – AGEAS Bowl – 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 Hampshire 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. Hampshire v Somerset. 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th May 2021. AGEAS Bowl.

Hampshire. J.J. Weatherley, I.G. Holland, T.P. Alsop, S.A. Northeast, J.M. Vince (c), L.A. Dawson, F.S. Organ, L.D. McManus (w), K.J. Abbott, K.H.D. Barker, Mohammad Abbas.

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

Hampshire.

Overnight. Hampshire 79 and 92 for 3. Somerset 336. Hampshire trail by 165 runs with seven second innings wickets standing.

Third day 8th May – Waiting to see the light

The scene at the end of the third day here was reminiscent of that at the end of the fourth day at Edgbaston in the Bob Willis Trophy in 2020. Umpires on the outfield, players in the Pavilion, except for Tom Abell who was in conversation with the umpires. Bad light the reason for the absence of players, Somerset’s dominant position in the match the reason for Abell’s presence no doubt. It ended a frustrating day for Somerset in which only 9.3 overs were bowled. Continuous heavy overnight rain and its effect on the outfield the reasons for the umpires concluding play could not begin until half past five. That changed the dynamic of the game, for it gave Hampshire a chance, if a slim one, of saving a game that had seemed beyond their compass at the end of the previous day.

Read More »