2018 tinged with 1976

County Championship Division 1. Worcestershire v Somerset. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th July 2018. Worcester. Second Day.

Somerset’s overnight score had seemed a good return given the impression of most on the first day was that the pitch had provided some help to the bowlers. It remained to be seen if Somerset could take advantage on the second day. 

Overnight: Somerset 324 for 9. 

Well, the cluster of street lights against which I finished yesterday’s report, six in an inner ring, three spread around the outer edge and no slips was not, mercifully, a harbinger of today’s play. In fact, for most of the Worcestershire innings Somerset had three slips, or two and a fine gully, and, as often as not, four.Read More »

The embers tell the tale

County Championship Division 1. Worcestershire v Somerset. 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th July 2018. Worcester. First Day.

Somerset came to Worcester following defeat at The Oval and a hard fought draw at Chelmsford. Matthew Renshaw had expected to end his term with Somerset in this match. A broken finger at The Oval had prevented that. He had been replaced by Azhur Ali, Pakistani Test batsman, who made his debut in this match.

For the first time in 2018 both Jamie and Craig Overton played in the same Championship match. It was also Jamie’s first red ball match of the season

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

As I start writing at my hotel room window the low angle of the sun is lighting up a cluster of red brick houses set among woods on the hills opposite. An abstract artist might paint them in the shape and in the orange and charcoal colours of the dying embers in the grate of a log fire. Read More »

Standing firm

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. Final Day.

Somerset had taken two wickets as Essex started their innings on the third evening which raised hopes that Somerset might force a victory. However the pitch had realised 941 runs for the loss of just 17 wickets on the first three days. If Somerset were to win a long day beckoned. 

Overnight: Essex 517 for 5 dec and 17 for 2. Somerset 407. Essex lead by 127 runs with 8 second innings wickets standing.

A match which had trundled along at under three and a half runs an over and which seemed to have quietly fallen asleep was roused from its slumbers when, after a session of accumulation Essex started to accelerate their scoring after ‘Lunch’. When Essex declared and set Somerset 319 to win off 50 overs the match jumped from the dull featherbed on which it had, thus far, been played and sprang to life.Read More »

Keeping going

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. Third Day.

Somerset had started well in response to Essex’s large first innings score but would need to bat well over a long period on the third day to stay in the game. 

Overnight: Essex 517 for 5 dec. Somerset 140 for 2. Somerset trail by 377 runs. 

This match is being played with a pink ball and at a time of day which challenges the temporal senses. It requires floodlights to ease the effect of the midsummer late evening gloaming. But for all that the third day was a day of taut grinding cricket of the old kind. Tense enough to bring the edge of the seat into use as the follow on, or the avoidance of it, became the issue of the day.Read More »

Hard going

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. Second Day.

For the second match in succession Somerset entered the second day with their opponents threatening to build a commanding score. Like Surrey, Essex were among the stronger teams in the Championship having won the title the previous year. 

Overnight: Essex 298 for 4. 

For the second day in succession there was not a cloud in the sky. The sun bore down, if not with quite the intensity of the first day, with enough intent for me to seek from the start the sanctuary of the lower level of the Tom Pearce Stand. The crowd was, if anything, smaller than on the first day and it concentrated itself in the shaded areas and on the Pavilion Terrace which falls into the shade around the ‘Lunch’ interval. One stand which faces as directly into the sun as the Colin Atkinson Pavilion at Taunton was as sparsely populated as the Somerset Stand on an April evening.Read More »

A sterling effort

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. First Day.

Somerset came to Chelmsford to face the County Champions having just been heavily defeated by Surrey at Guildford. As a consequence of that defeat Surrey had replaced Somerset at the top of the Championship table. 

This match was played with a pink ball, under lights when the light faded, with a 2.00 p.m. start. 

Jamie Overton returned to the Somerset team after injury for the first time in a year.Read More »

Reality

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 20th, 21st, and 22nd June 2018. Guildford. Final Day.

The overnight situation looked bleak for Somerset. They would have to bat the best part of five sessions to save the match. There was no prospect of them regaining the top spot in the Championship they had ceded to Surrey on the first day.

Overnight: Surrey 459. Somerset 180 and 18 for 0 (f/o). Somerset trail by 261 runs with 10second innings wickets standing. 

Another day of festival cricket and if it was the festival aspect you were going for it must have been a perfect day. Hot in the sun if that is what takes your fancy, a cool breeze in the shade if that is your preference and no prospect of rain. The day after the summer solstice so the sun was as high in the sky as it ever ventures in these parts. The clouds had spruced themselves up and were wearing their finest white. Widely spaced in formation and cotton wool in shape and form, they drifted gently by all day, providing a perfect canopy under which to play cricket.Read More »

Outclassed

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 20th, 21st, and 22nd June 2018. Guildford. Second Day.

Somerset’s decision to forgo a toss and insert Surrey had foundered. Surrey’s harvest of four bonus points to Somerset’s one on the first day had taken them above Somerset and to the top of the Championship table. Somerset had come to the second day with much catching up to do if they were to have any prospect of reversing those positions.

In the morning Surrey had taken their overnight score to 459 and Pope had scored a century. My report focuses on what followed. The last two sessions threatened to define Somerset’s Championship season.

Overnight: Surrey 351 for 5.

Sometimes you remember every detail of a calamitous or momentous event that happens in front of your eyes. Sometimes all you remember is a blurred flash. I can remember every ball of Alfonso Thomas’ momentous four in four. I can remember too much detail of Somerset’s calamitous collapse at Horsham a few years ago. The Ryan Patel spell of six wickets for five runs here falls into the blurred flash variety.Read More »

Pitch and Toss

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 20th, 21st, and 22nd June 2018. Guildford. First Day.

Somerset started their two match eastern tour at Guildford against Surrey who were in second place, just behind Somerset, in the Championship table.

Toss. Uncontested. Surrey required to bat.

Staying in East London for a match at Guildford was never the most sensible thing to do. But deciding late to make the trip made it by some way the most economic. The commuting days of my exile came flooding back as I made to board a train into London. Me and, literally, a full platform of others, they off to work, me off to the cricket.Read More »

In pursuit of the dream

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

Nottinghamshire fought throughout the third day to stay in the game. Somerset still appeared to hold the advantage but a much closer affair was in prospect than had seemed likely at the end of Nottinghamshire’s first innings.

Overnight: Somerset 392. Nottinghamshire 134 and 468 for 8. Nottinghamshire lead by 210 runs with 2 second innings wickets standing.

It was Steven Davies who finally got me off the edge of my seat and sitting more comfortably in it. At some point in the match every one of the Somerset players made a contribution which made a difference. But it was Davies who, brilliantly, virtually instantaneously, turned the dreams of victory of the watching Somerset supporters from a prolonged, heavy, nerve wracking ‘if’ to the sudden light-headed relief of ‘when’.Read More »

Match on the turn

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. Third Day.

Somerset had taken a 258 run first innings lead on the second day and had enforced the follow on. Nottinghamshire had fought back and significantly reduced the deficit without losing a wicket.  

Overnight: Somerset 392. Nottinghamshire 134 and 112 for 0 (f/o). Nottinghamshire trail by 146 runs.

At the end of the first day of this match I wrote we were no nearer knowing who would win it than we were at the start. We are still no nearer. However, we do know there will be a result and that focuses the mind.Read More »

A force of nature

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. Second Day.

Somerset started the second day with what had appeared to be a good total taking into account the help the pitch had given the bowlers on the first day. 

Overnight: Somerset 307 for 7. 

With due acknowledgement to Benjamin Franklin there are three certainties in life. Death, taxes and the Taunton pitch going flat on the third day.Read More »

Battle for the top

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. First Day.

Nottinghamshire came to Taunton top of the Championship table with Somerset in second place. And so began another match crucial to Somerset’s Championship challenge.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

It was a day of cricket you would happily travel a hundred miles to see. I know because the person I watched the day with had done precisely that. ‘Fascinating’ he called it.Read More »

Flashback. 2009.

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

On the third day the Somerset tail had extended Somerset’s total from a good one to an imposing one. By the end of the day the Hampshire top order had made a significant dent in Somerset’s lead as the feared flattening of the pitch came to pass.

Overnight: Hampshire 231 and 178 for 2. Somerset 506. Hampshire trail by 93 runs with 8 second innings wickets standing.

“Well, what are you going to find to write about that,” I was asked two or three overs from the end. What indeed.Read More »

The pitch has its say

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. Third Day.

At the start of the third day the match was set for Somerset’s tail, not devoid by any means of batting talent, to stretch an already very healthy first innings lead.

Overnight: Hampshire 231. Somerset 324 for 7. Somerset lead by 193 runs with 3 first innings wickets standing.

Late arriving at the Cooper Associates County Ground I made my way to the boundary near the covers store. As I arrived the ball screamed across the grass and crashed into the boards in front of the Ondaatje Stand. Hildreth I assumed had been on the other end of it. But no, Dom Bess was making his case to move up from number tenRead More »

Hildreth and Overton take the lead

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. Second Day.

Overnight: Hampshire 198 for 8.

What a difference a season makes. In the second half of 2017, with Somerset 30 points adrift in the relegation zone, it was a succession of performances like those of Hildreth and Craig Overton on the second day here that led Somerset to safety. A powerful team spirit underpins such performances. In 2018 such performances are driving Somerset towards the top of the table.Read More »

A team emerging



County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. First Day.

Somerset came into this match unbeaten after a classic rear guard action by Jack Leach and the tail had saved the previous match at Old Trafford. They had also won their first two matches and were second in the Championship table. Marcus Trescothick was unavailable for this match and would be for some matches to come after breaking a metatarsal whilst batting at Old Trafford. 

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field. 

Somerset started the match against Hampshire in second place in the Championship table, 17 points behind Nottinghamshire but with a game in hand. As far as such a thing can be said so early in the season they have their Championship future in their own hands. And such young hands. Only three of the side that took the field were over 30. The rest all under 27, six under 25, three aged 20. It would be a phenomenal feat if such a side could challenge for the Championship, let alone win it.

CC 2018 Som v Hants Day 1 Jimmy Adams Copyright Mike Williams
Craig Overton, one of seven players under the age of 27 in the Somerset side, makes a sharp stop off Jimmy Adams.
Photo courtesy Michael Williams

Read More »

Horatius at the bridge

County Championship Division 1. Lancashire v Somerset. 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th May 2018. Old Trafford. Final Day.

I was late posting this report. I had made the trip back to the West Country via London and had taken in an art study day on the way. ‘The Thames in Art’ for the record. Monet, Whistler et al. My arrival in London was too late for me to write my report there because the final day of the match went its full length. And what a final day it was.
Read More »

Lancashire advance. Abell rebels.

County Championship Division 1. Lancashire v Somerset. 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th May 2018. Old Trafford. Third Day.

Somerset’s excellent start to the season had received its first serious check on the second day of this match when Lancashire batted themselves into a position which threatened superiority. For Somerset’s bowlers, who had been dominant in the previous match against Yorkshire, there was some serious work to do. Read More »

The balance shifts

County Championship Division 1. Lancashire v Somerset. 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th May 2018. Old Trafford. Second Day.

Somerset entered the second day of this match with a solid base but with still some way to go if they were to control the match.  

Overnight: Somerset 321 for 5.

By the end of the day I was recalling Marcus Trescothick’s adage from the early days of his captaincy that at Taunton you needed to bat last to win the match. I wondered if that applied to Old Trafford in this match for by the end of the day the prospects of Somerset taking another wicket seemed to be setting with the sun.Read More »