A Seesaw of a Day – Leicestershire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Grace Road – Day 1

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Leicestershire 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. Leicestershire v Somerset. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th April 2021. Grace Road.

Leicestershire. M.S. Harris, M.H. Azad, H.E. Dearden, C. Ackermann (c), L.J. Hill, H.J. Swindells (w), B.W.M. Mike, C.F. Parkinson, C.J.C. Wright, D. Klein, G.T. Griffiths.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, M.J. Leach.

Toss. Leicestershire. Elected to bat.

First day. 22nd April – A seesaw of a day

As far as could be told through the lens of the live stream camera at the start of play it had looked a good toss to win. There was not a cloud in the sky, at least in that part of the sky which the camera revealed above the houses stretching along the edge of the ground. Neither, from the distant view offered by the camera, could I see any sign of grass on the pitch. It looked white when compared to the deep green of the two strips on either side of it but had more of a brown hue when the camera produced a closer view.

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Car crash – Somerset v Gloucestershire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Final day

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 Gloucestershire. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th April 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, M.J. Leach.

Gloucestershire. K.C. Brathwaite, C.D.J. Dent (c), J.R. Bracey (w), T.C. Lace, G.L. van Buuren, R.F. Higgins, G.T. Hankins, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, M.D. Taylor, D.C. Goodman.

Overnight. Somerset 312 and 149. Gloucestershire 309 and 28 for 1. Gloucestershire need 125 more runs to win with nine wickets standing.

Final day. 18th April – Car crash

The final day, if you were a Somerset supporter, was like being involved in a car crash. It all happened in slow motion. The sort of car crash where the outcome is inevitable, it just seems to take an awfully long time to get to the crunch. When I finally got to bed after finishing my third day report I could see no realistic prospect of a Somerset victory. It looked no different when my alarm began sounding as part of the dream I was in when I woke up to find I was actually still in the midst of a Somerset cricketing nightmare.

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Gloucestershire ask some tough questions – Somerset v Gloucestershire – County Chmpionship 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 Gloucestershire. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th April 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, M.J. Leach.

Gloucestershire. K.C. Brathwaite, C.D.J. Dent (c), J.R. Bracey (w), T.C. Lace, G.L. van Buuren, R.F. Higgins, G.T. Hankins, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, M.D. Taylor, D.C. Goodman.

Overnight. Somerset 312. Gloucestershire 302 for 8. Gloucestershire trail by ten runs with two first innings wickets standing.

Third day. 17th April – Gloucestershire ask some tough questions

For the first two days of this match Somerset fought to maintain parity with Gloucestershire. On the second afternoon they edged marginally ahead. On the second evening Bracey and Taylor, principally in the form of an eighth wicket stand of 71, gave Gloucestershire a slight advantage. At the start of the third morning Marchant de Lange, with two wickets in the space of five runs, Payne returning a low catch from a leading edge and Taylor having no answer to a full ball which struck his pads, gave Somerset the narrowest of margins over Gloucestershire on first innings. It was so close that had this been an election rather than a cricket match Gloucestershire would have been within their constitutional rights to request a full recount. Of all the innovations cricket is to be subject to in this second season of the coronavirus, that, mercifully, is not one of them. By the end of the third day recounts were no longer in the thoughts, for Gloucestershire were threatening to win by a landslide such was the scale of the destruction of Somerset’s top and middle order either side of lunch.

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Working the Clay – Somerset v Gloucestershire – County Championship 2021 – Day 2 – Taunton

lThis 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 Gloucestershire. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th April 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, M.J. Leach.

Gloucestershire. K.C. Brathwaite, C.D.J. Dent (c), J.R. Bracey (w), T.C. Lace, G.L. van Buuren, R.F. Higgins, G.T. Hankins, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, M.D. Taylor, D.C. Goodman.

Overnight. Somerset 312. Gloucestershire 13 for 0. Gloucestershire trail by 299 runs with ten first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 16th April – Working the clay

I know not whether I suffer from ill-luck or bad judgement, but wherever I have lived in this country I have found myself tending a garden consisting of heavy clay soil. There is no quick way of working clay. You just have to put your back into the job, digging systematically along one unforgiving row after another, ploughing doggedly on until the job is done. It was like that for the Somerset bowlers on the second day of this match and perhaps for the Gloucestershire batsmen too, although they might have felt they ended the day just ahead with only 11 runs needed to overhaul the Somerset total and two wickets still standing. The movement in the air and off the pitch which had been plainly evident for much of the first day had, apart from the occasional sharp remnant, faded like the melting of the morning frost. There was nothing for it but for the Somerset bowlers to work their way through one unforgiving over after another on what had become a mainly unforgiving pitch. And then do the same with one spell after another.

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Testing Newton’s Law – Somerset v Gloucestershire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 1

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 Gloucestershire. 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th April 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey, M de Lange, M.J. Leach.

Gloucestershire. K.C. Brathwaite, C.D.J. Dent (c), J.R. Bracey (w), T.C. Lace, G.L. van Buuren, R.F. Higgins, G.T. Hankins, G.F.B. Scott, D.A. Payne, M.D. Taylor, D.C. Goodman.

Toss. Gloucestershire. Elected to field.

First day. 15th April – Testing Newton’s Law

It was a glorious April day. Warm sun, with just enough chill on the breeze to remind that we are still nearer the equinox than the solstice. Perfect for watching cricket this early in the season. So it felt in my Somerset garden ten minutes or so before the start of play. The expanse of the Quantocks beyond the Lord Ian Botham and River Stands visible on my laptop and the bright blue sky dappled with a legion of sheer-white tufts of cotton wool cloud suggested it must be so at the Cooper Associates County Ground too. The Blackdowns, also bathed in sun, and looking on through the window from beyond my laptop added to the lifting of the spirits which always accompanies the start of a County Championship match on such a day.

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The match of a lifetime – Middlesex v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Lord’s – 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 Middlesex 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. Middlesex v Somerset. 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th April 2021. Lord’s.

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, S.S. Eskinazi (c), R.G. White, M.K. Andersson, J.A. Simpson (w), T.S. Roland-Jones, T.G. Helm, E.R. Bamber, T.J. Murtagh

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, M. de Lange, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Middlesex 313 and 143. Somerset 172 and 112 for 3. Somerset need another 173 runs to win with seven wickets standing

Final day. 11th April – The match of a lifetime

I saw my first Somerset match in 1958. I was seven years old. I am now 70 years old. It is difficult to recall in the intervening years seeing an outcome quite so remarkable as this one. For an ardent Somerset watcher that is quite a claim. At the end of the second day Middlesex led by 228 runs with eight second innings wickets standing. Middlesex’s first innings 313 was generally held to be some way above par for the conditions. Midway through that second day it had been put into its true perspective when Somerset’s reply subsided to 89 for 9 with numbers ten and eleven at the wicket. Somerset were not so much staring into the abyss as laying in pieces at the bottom of it.

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Somerset shape the day – Middesex v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Lord’s – 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 Middlesex 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. Middlesex v Somerset. 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th April 2021. Lord’s.

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, S.S. Eskinazi (c), R.G. White, M.K. Andersson, J.A. Simpson (w), T.S. Roland-Jones, T.G. Helm, E.R. Bamber, T.J. Murtagh

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, M. de Lange, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Middlesex 313 and 87 for 2. Somerset 172. Middlesex lead by 228 with eight second innings wickets standing.

Third day. 10th April – Somerset shape the day

At the start of the final day of this match Somerset will need one hundred and seventy-three runs to win with seven wickets standing. In one sense that is a simple statement of fact. But in the minds, and in the hearts, of the supporters of Somerset and Middlesex it is so much more than that. For them it is a statement replete with meaning, charged with hope and dripping with anxiety. It is laden with the ifs and buts, with the twists and turns, and with the incessant tension of a third day which breathed vibrant life back into a match which had seemed, to all intents and purposes, over at the end of the second day, such a dominant position had Middlesex fashioned.

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Outplayed – Middlesex v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Lord’s – 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 Middlesex 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. Middlesex v Somerset. 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th April 2021. Lord’s.

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, S.S. Eskinazi (c), R.G. White, M.K. Andersson, J.A. Simpson (w), T.S. Roland-Jones, T.G. Helm, E.R. Bamber, T.J. Murtagh

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, M. de Lange, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Middlesex 293 for 8.

Second day. 9th April – Outplayed

For Somerset supporters this was not the day perched on the edge of the seats of their armchairs hoped for at the end of the first day. It was instead, a day spent slumped into the depths of the cushions of those chairs. Somerset have thus far been comprehensively outplayed in this match. Largely, on the batting front, by Sam Robson’s outstanding innings on the first day. As to the bowling the Middlesex pace attack, more accustomed it is true to using the conditions and the slope at Lord’s, were more consistent than the Somerset bowlers in causing trouble for the batsmen, perhaps Lewis Gregory’s first innings contribution excepted. Too often in Middlesex’s second innings, the Somerset bowlers gave leeway in line or dropped short and the Middlesex batsmen took full advantage. In their first innings, had it not been for a typically swashbuckling innings from Marchant de Lange, assiduously supported by Jack Leach, Somerset would have found themselves bowled out for two figures and conceded a lead of over 200 against a Middlesex first innings only just in excess of 300. The gap between the sides, on the first two days of this match at least, was that great.

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A day of cricket of the old sort – Middlesex v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Lord’s – Day 1

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Middlesex 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. Middlesex v Somerset. 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th April 2021. Lord’s.

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, S.S. Eskinazi (c), R.G. White, M.K. Andersson, J.A. Simpson (w), T.S. Roland-Jones, T.G. Helm, E.R. Bamber, T.J. Murtagh

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, T. Banton, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), C. Overton, L. Gregory, M. de Lange, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

First day. 8th April – A day of cricket of the old sort

This was a day of championship cricket of the old sort. A day on which the bowlers had to work hard for their wickets and batsmen for their runs. A day on which the pitch seemed to favour neither batsman nor bowler and on which less than 300 runs were scored. There was some lift for Craig Overton in the morning but no great movement for any of the bowlers most of the time. Of the Middlesex batsmen, Stephen Eskanazi batted two hours to grind out 22, Robbie White an hour and a quarter for 17. Only one batsman, Sam Robson, exceeded Eskanazi’s 22.

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Somerset Legends ~ Marcus Trescothick ~ Giant of the Somerset Cricketing Landscape

SOMERSET LEGENDS ~ MARCUS TRESCOTHICK

GIANT OF THE SOMERSET CRICKETING LANDSCAPE

As Marcus Trescothick leaves Somerset to take up a post with England here is one person’s appreciation of some aspects of the contribution he has made to Somerset cricket. It consists of the author’s memories of some of the highlights of an illustrious Somerset career in first-class cricket. There was more, much more, but I hope this will give something of a flavour of Marcus Trescothick, Somerset giant, in whites with the bat and in the field. Access to the Cricket Archive database has been most helpful in identifying or confirming some of the statistics used in this article.

As you travel the highways of Britain there are iconic landmarks that capture the identity of the surrounding landscape and the history of the nation. Stonehenge, beside the A303 in Wiltshire, has withstood the winds and the rains of time in that part of Salisbury Plain for five millennia. The eight great cooling towers of Ferrybridge power station rose above the A1 and the M62 motorway for five decades before five were demolished in 2019. The three that remain are among the last great icons of the power of northern industry which once fuelled the economy of the country. Marcus Trescothick has been an icon of Somerset cricket for nearly three decades, an aeon in the life of a cricket professional, and is as much a part of the Somerset cricketing landscape and its long history as Stonehenge and Ferrybridge are of the history and landscape of the nation.

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Somerset Legends ~ Mark Lathwell ~ A meteor crosses the Somerset sky

This is the latest in a series of occasional articles of the author’s reminiscences of Somerset legends. The author is indebted to the Cricket Archive database for the statistics include in the article. The reminiscences are drawn entirely from his personal recollections.

SOMERSET LEGENDS ~ MARK LATHWELL

Mark Lathwell played 142 first-class matches for Somerset. He scored 7988 runs at an average of 33.84 with ten centuries.   

Once in a while, on an August night, when the air is still and the clouds are away, a meteor flashes across the sky. It attracts the eye, embeds itself in the memory, and then, slower than it came, fades from view. If only it could have stayed longer, extended the spectacle, given time for the eyes and the mind to focus. And yet, the spectacle it does provide is enough for the watcher to recall the image whenever the fancy passes and to banish the ungrateful wish that it should have tarried.

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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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