County Championship 2017 ~ Nadir

NADIR 

~   HAMPSHIRE   ~ 

“The difference in the way Somerset and Hampshire batted in their second innings was stark and telling.” 

Somerset’s dismal start to the 2017 Championship season continued with a third defeat in the first four matches. The cricket is described, but the reports also reflect the lively debate among supporters about the reasons for the slump and thoughts about the possible reasons. Different times to some of the heights of 2018 and 2019, and a different type of report.

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 26th, 27th and 28th May 2017. Somerset v Hampshire. Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Middlesex ~ Final day ~ Floating on air

September 2017 Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th. Somerset v Middlesex.

In short, Somerset needed to defeat Middlesex to retain their First Division status. Victory for Somerset would also mean the relegation of Middlesex. Any other result would reverse those roles.

Overnight. Somerset 236 and 250-9 dec. Middlesex 142 and 40-3. Middlesex need a further 305 runs to win with 7 wickets standing. 

28th September. Final Day – Floating on air    

Farmer White (IP Logged) 28 September 2017 11.11 p.m.

“I normally set off for a Somerset match filled with trepidation and deep foreboding about the outcome. It was like an out of body experience this morning as I set off, for I had no such forebodings, just a quiet confidence that Somerset would do an efficient professional job of retaining their place in the First Division. Difficult to explain why my psyche should let me have such an easy ride. With so much hanging on the day I should have been paralysed with anxiety. As it was I floated on air. Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Middlesex ~ Third day ~ The value of Hildreth

September 2017 Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th. Somerset v Middlesex.

Overnight. Somerset 236 and 159-3. Middlesex 142. Somerset lead by 259 runs with seven second innings wickets standing.  

27th September. Third Day – The value of Hildreth

Farmer White (IP Logged) 28 September 2017 8.28 a.m.

“Well what a day that was. From the first ball there was no doubting Somerset’s intent with the bat, or the weather’s. Middlesex’s in the field soon became clear too. By the end of the day we saw the mettle of Somerset’s new Chief Executive for we knew that by the end of the next day the Director of Cricket will have departed. Steven Davies had been awarded his county cap. By next week a new Director of Cricket will have been announced, and a new post of Head Coach created and filled. And Craig Overton is off to the Ashes too.*
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County Championship 2017 ~ Middlesex ~ Second day ~ Two old hands excel

September 2017 Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th. Somerset v Middlesex.

Overnight. Somerset 236. Middlesex 18-3. Middlesex trail Somerset by 218 runs with seven first innings wickets standing.    

26th September. Second Day – Two old hands excel

Farmer White (IP Logged) 27 September 2017 1.30 a.m.
“We started ten minutes late on the second day amid mist, mizzle and misgivings about the pitch hanging in the air like the sword of Damocles over Somerset’s First Division status*. By the end of the day the sun had despatched the mist and the mizzle, and the bats of Hildreth, Abell, Trescothick, Stirling and Malan should have seen off Damocles and his sword.
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County Championship 2017 ~ Middlesex ~ Relegation showdown

September 2017 Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th. Somerset v Middlesex.

Somerset faced Middlesex at Taunton for the last Championship match of the 2017 season. In all probability, one of the two counties would be relegated from the First Division at the end of the match. If Somerset were to beat Middlesex, and at least match them for bonus points, they would end the season on the same number of points as Middlesex but would finish above them because the victory would give them four wins to Middlesex’s three. For Middlesex the situation was more simple. Anything but a victory for Somerset would see Middlesex safe. For both sides there were other more nebulous permutations involving other teams, particularly Middlesex, but the outcome of the match between the two sides was by far the most likely determinent of their respective futures.Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Surrey ~ Final day ~ A fighting defeat

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. The Oval. 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd September 2017. Surrey v Somerset.

Overnight. Somerset 269 and 113-4. Surrey 433. Somerset trail by 51 runs with 6 second inningswickets standing.

22nd September 2017. Final Day.

Farmer White (IP Logged) 24 September 2017 12.58 p.m.

“It was a fitting end to Kumar Sangakkara’s last innings at The Oval as Surrey closed in on victory. It would have been a fitting end to his first-class career had it taken place during his final match, at Old Trafford next week. Here, he drove a ball from Dom Bess so perfectly straight and with such tremendous ferocity that Umpire Ian Gould took evasive action by tumbling flat onto his back like an upended stump. It was not Gould’s speed of reaction which saved him, but the lightning fast reaction and sureness of hand of Dom Bess who, it seemed impossibly, caught the ball. Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Surrey ~ Third day ~ Match in tatters

Close. Somerset 269. Surrey 328-6. Surrey lead by 59 runs with 4 first innings wickets standing.

21st September. Third Day -Match in tatters

Farmer White (IP Logged) 22 September 2017 8.26 a.m.
“The relegation tide rose around Somerset on the third day of this match. Middlesex won at Lord’s and Yorkshire are closing in on Warwickshire at Headingley, although making some heavy weather of it. Somerset are losing against Surrey, and will need an extended effort from their remaining six wickets on the last day against a rampant Surrey to salvage the five points which come with a draw. It will require their best batting of the match, the first morning apart. Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Surrey ~ Second day ~ Sangakkara

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. The Oval. 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd September 2017. Surrey v Somerset. 

Overnight. Somerset 269. Surrey 42-0. Surrey trail by 227 runs with all first innings wickets standing.     

20th September. Second Day – Sangakkara

Farmer White (IP Logged) 21 September 2017 8.40 a.m.
“The real world sometimes impinges on a day at the cricket. It did, briefly, today as I neared The Oval on the tube for the second day’s play. “Is this anyone’s bag?” someone shouted from next to one of the doors in my carriage. It wasn’t. At least it didn’t belong to anyone still on the train. People started to gravitate towards the two ends of the carriage. There was nothing remotely approximating to panic, just a calm though visibly anxious quiet on people’s faces. The bag looked so innocuous as it rested there, now quite alone. At the same time it looked numbingly fearsome as the implications of what it could be began to sink in.
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County Championship 2017 ~ Surrey ~ First day ~ Swimming against the tide

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. The Oval. 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd September 2017. Surrey v Somerset. 

With one point covering three teams the second relegation slot was most likely to fall to Middlesex, Somerset or Yorkshire. although it was still possible that Hampshire or Surrey, a further 11 and 13 points ahead of Yorkshire, might just come into the frame, especially if Surrey lost to Somerset, Middlesex beat Lancashire at Lord’s and Warwickshire beat Yorkshire at Headingley. 

19th September. First Day – Swimming against the tide

Farmer White (IP Logged) 20 September 2017 8.50 a.m.

“Somerset may just be running out of road in their late season charge to stay in the First Division. After two stunning victories against teams at the bottom and near the top of the table they may find themselves swimming against a powerful tide on the second day at The Oval. At least that is how it was starting to feel at the close of the first day from my perch in the Peter May Stand. I sat for most of the day on a line exactly square of the Pavilion End stumps. Hardly a position from which to judge if the ball was moving but during the eighty or so minutes after lunch Rikki Clarke looked as if he had the ball on a string. Five wickets fell in the space of 35 runs, all to moving ball type dismissals; and there were many more balls which were played at and missed. It was a devastating piece of bowling which left Somerset’s First Division survival hopes hanging by a thread. Read More »

County Championship 2017 – Must Win – Match Preview

MUST WIN 

~   LANCASHIRE   ~ 

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th September 2017. Somerset v Lancashire – Match Preview.

Whilst Somerset, 13 points into the relegation zone, were fighting to sustain their chances of First Division survival Lancashire came to Taunton with a slim, if unlikely, chance of overhauling Essex to win the Championship. They were 36 points behind in second place with three games to play. They would need to beat Somerset and almost certainly win their last two games to have any chance of becoming champions. Effectively this was a ‘must win’ match for both sides.

Somerset and Lancashire had previous history where Championships were concerned. The match preview I posted follows …Read More »

County Championship 2017~ Lancashire ~ Final day ~ Craig Overton stands tall

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th September 2017. Somerset v Lancashire.

Overnight. Somerset 335. Lancashire 133 and 247-8 (f/o). Lancashire lead by 45 runs with two second innings standing.

15th September 2017. Final Day.

Farmer White (IP Logged) 15 September 2017 11.07 p.m.
“Craig Overton stood just a little taller at the end of the Lancashire innings. The second match in succession in which he has taken wickets on a pitch favouring spinners. I was an over late to the ground. It was a good time to arrive. The first thing I saw was Jarvis’s off stump cartwheeling out of the ground propelled by a thunderbolt from Overton. I had not long sat down back at the top of the Somerset Pavilion when he speared one in at Bailey’s toes. Bailey could neither get his bat down nor his feet out of the way in time so lbw it was. It was like the days before they taught tail enders to bat a bit and in particular how to keep the pace bowler out. Somerset have a bowler who can bowl fast enough and straight enough on his day to shoot out a tail.
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County Championship 2017 ~ Lancashire ~ Third day ~ Battle of wills

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th September 2017. Somerset v Lancashire.

Overnight. Somerset 335 (SM Davies 111, TB Abell 46, MW Parkinson 4-68, TE Bailey 3-40). Lancashire 133 (SJ Croft 41, MJ Leach 5-47) and 28-0 (f/o). 

14th September. Third Day.

Farmer White (IP Logged) 15 September 2017 8.31 a.m.
“Umpire Nick Cook was seen looking expectantly at the sky beyond the Trescothick Stand where the weather was coming from on this third day as a brief smattering of rain swept the ground. Groans. Then the deep rising roar of an approaching Spitfire filled the air and most eyes were on the sky. It curled away behind the flats having taken another peek at the cricket. You watch cricket at what is now the Cooper Associates County Ground for sixty seasons and never see a Spitfire, and then two come along in the same match. May it presage two five wicket hauls in the same match for Jack Leach.
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County Championship 2017 – Lancashire – First day – Battle Royal

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th September 2017. Somerset v Lancashire.

Toss. Uncontested. Somerset required to bat.

12th September. First Day – Battle royal

Farmer White (IP Logged) 13 September 2017 7.49 a.m.
“I know they start Championship matches at 10.30 in September. They have for years. Unfortunately, that was not at the forefront of my mind when at the beginning of July I arranged an important appointment for 9.00 a.m. on the first day of this match. And so it was, with another delay on the way to the ground, I arrived at the ground three quarters of an hour after the start. I was not as desperately anxious as I might have been because I caught a glance at the scoreboard as I came over Priory Bridge Road and into the town for a car park. I could see a ‘0’ in the wickets column and the name ‘Trescothick’ as one of the batsmen. It is amazing what relief a name and a digit can bring to the overanxious mind.Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Lancashire ~ Second day ~ Somerset rampant

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th September 2017. Somerset v Lancashire.

Overnight. Somerset 330-9.    

“No appointments today so it was straight to my perch at the windy end of the top of the Somerset Pavilion. Although from the gale that swept the Terrace all day I imagine those at that end of the seating would contest my claim. I was there for the start to see Jack Leach cut McClaren beautifully to the Caddick Pavilion and then, in the next over apparently almost literally hold his bat out horizontally to dry only for the ball to fly up off the top edge and Somerset were all out for 335.

Lancashire needed 186 to avoid the follow on. 186 all out is the first cricket score I can remember with certainty. For that reason and perhaps because of what followed on from it the events surrounding it always reappear in my mind when the number 186 comes up in a match. Given what did follow it I hope it has no resonance for this match.Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Needs Must ~ Warwickshire

NEEDS MUST 

~   WARWICKSHIRE   ~  

“Two batting artists at work painting a wonderful picture of movement on that spinners’ canvas prepared in the middle of Edgbaston. Oh, that we had a Degas to capture these two in this mood on a real canvas.” 

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Edgbaston. 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th September 2017. Warwickshire v Somerset.           

This match was, by general consent among Somerset supporters, a ‘needs must win’ match. Somerset had 23 points to make up over the sixth placed side if they were to be safe from relegation. If they lost to Warwickshire they would almost certainly slip into last place, for Warwickshire, in last place, were only 13 points behind Somerset, and the gap to sixth place would probably then be virtually insurmountable. I watched this match on a live stream. In those days the live stream came in a small panel, perhaps two inches by three, in the middle of the computer screen. How far things have come in that short time.

Farmer White (IP Logged) 9 September 2017 7.48 p.m.

“And for those at the match this is what it was like not being there (at least for me).

Unable to travel to this match the commentary and live feed it was. When I could get to my laptop. I don’t do smartphones so when I am not at home it is silence, for gone are the days when, in extremis, you could buy successive editions of the evening paper with ‘Latest Cricket Scores’ in the ‘Stop Press’ column, see the score, and wonder who was out and how many they were out for. Many a Sunday School outing to Exmouth was spent waiting for the Stop Press in the next edition.
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County Championship 2017 ~ Reality again ~ Essex

REALITY AGAIN 

~   ESSEX   ~ .

 “Chelmsford is not a pretty ground and it looks faintly, if charmingly, decrepit. Not the sort of place you expect to meet a cricketing steamroller breathing fire. But for those who would like their cricket to be played in the aura of the 1950s it is the place to go.” 

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Chelmsford. 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st August 2017. Essex v Somerset. 

Essex had dominated the Championship table from early in the season and by the time of this match were powering towards their first Championship for a quarter of a century. It was a remarkable performance for a team which had only been promoted at the end of the previous season and had only spent three seasons in the First Division since the Championship split into two divisions in 2000. They became the first team to win the First Division in the year following promotion. I travelled to watch this match in the midst of the land of my exile. A long way from home I wrote a ‘whole match’ post after I had returned to Somerset.

Farmer White (IP Logged) 4 September 2017 10.44 p.m.

“Here is my very belated post on the Essex match for anyone not at the match and still interested. Other things to do and defeats are harder to write about than victories, at least for me. I have tried to weave in some thoughts on what I saw as a key reason for this particular defeat. I have written of this match simply as I saw it. As a battle of wills as much as a battle of skills.            Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Hard pounding ~ Surrey

HARD POUNDING

~   SURREY   ~ 

“The Quantocks had given up the unequal struggle and the cloud had enveloped the ground as much as the applause. But what memories remain of that golden miraculous afternoon.” 

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th August 2017. Somerset v Surrey.

The Championship resumed for one round of matches the day after the T20 match against Surrey who remained at Taunton for the four-day game. The question was could Somerset build any momentum after the stunning and unexpected win at Scarborough a month previously. Tom Abell returned to the captaincy after a few unsuccessful appearances in the T20 competition. Lewis Gregory, after his spectacular foray into captaincy at Scarborough, was now finally unable to play for the remainder of the season following surgery on a longstanding back injury.

 7th August. First Day.

Farmer White (IP Logged) 8 August 2017 at 8.42 a.m.

“Perhaps the most important thing I saw yesterday were four primary school age children playing cricket in the car park and another still carrying a pair of inflatable batons from the previous day’s T20 so he at least had been brought to both games. I saw five others, or perhaps the same five, waiting for autographs by the Caddyshack only to all set off like a flock of Cooper Associates County Ground seagulls, in hot pursuit of Steven Davies’ six, presumably for the honour of throwing it back. They were foiled because it fell at the foot of the out of bounds, for this match, temporary stand. There were four or five children of a similar age in the top deck of the Somerset Pavilion from where I viewed today. Hopefully from small beginnings children at Championship matches in numbers will return perhaps gradually drawn in by T20 where they proliferate. Read More »

County championship 2017 ~ Scarborough Miracle

And so, to July in Somerset’s gruelling 2017 season and the miracle of Scarborough. I attended fewer away matches in 2017 than I have been able to of late. Scarborough was one I did not attend. Instead I followed it from, as I put it in my report, 253 miles behind fine leg. Although there were more defeats to come, Scarborough was the turning point of the season. There is a report on the first day, summaries of the second and third days and a post-match review written just after the match. The review looks at where Somerset were and to the future for the Somerset team. As I saw it in 2017 …

As usual in this series the original reports are contained within quotation marks and are in a darker font. 

SCARBOROUGH MIRACLE 

~   YORKSHIRE   ~  

“It is not the win of itself, nor the win in the context of this season, nor just the manner of the win but the shape of the team which won the victory which lends the feel of history on the turn.”


Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Scarborough. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th July 2017. Yorkshire v Somerset.Read More »

Pink ball blues

The introduction to this report was written during the winter of 2017/18. It remains as it was written then. Things have moved on in relation to pink ball cricket, but the issue of Championship crowds, except in a few counties like Somerset, has not. This post includes an attempt at a light-hearted poem on cricket, at least from the batsman’s viewpoint, played with a pink ball. 

PINK BALL BLUES 

~   HAMPSHIRE   ~ 

“It was a perfect afternoon’s cricket in the middle of a lovely summer evening.” 

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Southampton. 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th June 2017. Hampshire v Somerset.Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ So Close

SO CLOSE 

~   YORKSHIRE   ~ 

“Yorkshire eyes perked up although the couple in front of me could not bear to applaud. Too tense. Too close. Somerset faces looked at each other. So close and yet now a little further away.”

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th June 2017. Somerset v Yorkshire.

In this match Adam Hose replaced Peter Trego. This was the first sign that the guard might be changing in the Championship batting line up.

9th June. First Day.

Farmer White (IP Logged) 10 June 2017 8.30 a.m.

“Isn’t it time Ryan Sidebottom retired?” said the incoming text just before the close after he had taken three Somerset wickets in his first five overs. And that after he had batted 18 overs to help add 31 for the last Yorkshire wicket with more ease than virtually any of the Yorkshire batsmen had shown. He is a remarkable player. Read More »