Sinking Feeling – Somerset v Nottinghamshire – County Championship 2021 – Phase 2 – Division 1 – Taunton – 30th and 31st August and 1st September – Final 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.

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 448. Somerset 87 for 7. Somerset trail by 361 runs with three first innings wickets standing.

Final day 1st September – Sinking feeling

It was a gloomy start to the day, both in the sky and in the stands. Looking up, the cloud seemed higher than at the start of the second day, but the light looked no better. Looking out, the light had dressed the Quantocks in drab maroon, dull green and misty grey. They caught the mood. Looking around, there was a resigned air as Somerset faced a 361-run first innings deficit with just three first innings wickets standing.

For the first time this season I was sitting in the top of the Trescothick Pavilion, back to my old haunt after nearly two years watching on a screen from beyond the closed doors, or from a seat allocated elsewhere. It was a curious, unexpected sensation, as if the coronavirus interregnum had never happened. Familiar faces, not seen in all that time, in familiar seats with familiar waves of recognition, as if I and they had last seen each other only yesterday. It gave the spirit a lift.

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The Lights go out for Somerset – Somerset v Nottinghamshire – County Championship 2021 – Phase 2 – Division 1 – 30th, 31st August and 1st September – Day 2

The Lights go out for Somerset – 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.

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 282 for 6.

Second day 30th August – The lights go out for Somerset

The second day, particularly the second part of it, had the feeling of Horsham 2013. The pattern of the two matches is different, but the abyss between the performances of the two sides is of a similar order. The Horsham rout left a scar on the psyche of Somerset supporters who were there, including the author, which is yet to fully heal. The second day of this match re-opened the wound for some, including the two who mentioned it to me as we were preparing to leave the ground at the end of the day. Whilst for much of the Nottinghamshire innings there was a feel of balls being bowled against an impenetrable brick wall, Somerset’s first innings had the feel of an ill-formed wall being systematically demolished. Even the sky mimicked the dull cloud of Horsham.

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“You Bears!” – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September – Final Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th  September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Overnight. Warwickshire 367. Somerset 239 for 5. Somerset trail by 128 runs with five first innings wickets standing

Final day 24th September – “You bears!”

After the two sides had fought each other to a standstill over the first eight sessions of this match, Warwickshire spectacularly grabbed the initiative on the third evening. A match that had been heavily contested at around three runs an over was suddenly racing along at six, with the Somerset fielders falling back towards the boundary in an attempt to contain a cascade of Warwickshire runs. On a pitch on which only 21 wickets had fallen on the first three days, Warwickshire’s ease of scoring suggested that bowling Somerset out in the fourth innings might be no easy task. It was a task that would stand between Warwickshire and the County Championship.

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Championship Cricket at its Best – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – September 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th – Third Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Overnight. Warwickshire 367. Somerset 239 for 5. Somerset trail by 128 runs with five first inning wickets standing.

Third day 23rd September – Championship cricket at its best

By the start of the third day, developments at Aigburth over the first two days had clarified Warwickshire’s task. To be certain of the Championship, they would need to take all three bowling points, for which they needed to take four more wickets in the first 33 overs of the day, and beat Somerset. If they failed to take all three bowling points but still won, they would need Lancashire to win at Aigburth to be champions. If they failed to take all three bowling points and Hampshire beat Lancashire, Hampshire would be champions. A draw at Aigburth could effectively be discounted, for with Hampshire already nearing the end of their second innings in a low-scoring game, no batting points were recorded by either side, a positive result was as certain as anything is in cricket. Somerset had only the prospect of reversing the run of dispiriting defeats that had been their lot in this divisional stage of the Championship.

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In the balance – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – September 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th – Second Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Somerset dropped James Hildreth for this match after a run of low scores. He was replaced by Lewis Gregory who was not fit to bowl.

Overnight. Warwickshire 283 for 4.

Second day 22nd September – In the balance

The Somerset bowlers had toiled long and hard on the first day and might have met with more reward than the four wickets they eventually took. Warwickshire had batted with equal intent, and perhaps with some fortune, at least in the eyes of Somerset supporters. Their patience had resulted in a score from which they might hope to reach 350 in 110 overs and four batting points which, given the match situation at Aigburth between Lancashire and Hampshire, would keep the destination of the Championship in Warwickshire’s hands. They would though also have to win this match if, as seemed likely, either team won at Aigburth.

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Hard Grind – Warwickshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Edgbaston – 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September – First Day

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th September 2021. Edgbaston.

Warwickshire. R.M. Yates, D.P. Sibley, W.M.H. Rhodes (c), S.R. Hain, M.J. Lamb, M.G.K. Burgess (w), C.R. Woakes, T.T. Bresnan, D.R. Briggs, C.N. Miles, L.C. Norwell.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, C. Overton, J.H. Davey, M. J. Leach, J. A. Brooks.  

Somerset dropped James Hildreth for this match after a run of low scores. He was replaced by Lewis Gregory who was not fit to bowl.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

First day 21st September – Hard grind

The day did not start well. A battle with the hotel Wi-Fi, or the lack of it, and a phone call to their helpline, was not the most auspicious of starts, and more time-consuming than you would think necessary in the age of artificial intelligence. Then the automatic till at the shop where I went to buy some lunch for the cricket refused to weigh two bananas. What it had against bananas I don’t know. Fortunately, it had no problem with the vegetable samosas or the Bakewell tart I had opted for. Then there was the bus, or the lack of it, or them. Two were promised within ten minutes, but the promise miraculously disappeared from the digital indicator board just before the buses were due. Neither arrived, although another was promised. At least I now know where Godot was waiting while Estragon and Vladimir were waiting for him.

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Cold Reality – Somerset v Lancashire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – 12th, 13th and 14th September – Final Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 12th, 13th and 14th September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange, J. A. Brooks.  

Lancashire. G.P. Balderson, A.L. Davies (w), L.W.P. Wells, J.J. Bohannon, D.J. Vilas (c), R.P. Jones, S.J. Croft, D.J. Lamb, T.E. Bailey, J.M. Blatherwick, M.W. Parkinson.

Overnight. Lancashire 373. Somerset 90 and 226 for 4. Somerset trail by 57 runs with six second innings wickets standing.

Final day 14th September – Cold reality

It was a day which began with resignation written across faces, perhaps tinged with faint hope. Hope that the remaining Somerset batsmen might overcome the outstanding deficit of 57 and set Lancashire a target which would at least ask them a question or two. The resignation came not just from a huge first innings deficit, but also from the two innings defeats which preceded this match. The batting statistics of those two matches had been bleak indeed. Individually, Marchant de Lange had bludgeoned more runs than any other player in the Somerset team. His 36 against Nottinghamshire was the highest individual score. To add to the gloom, Somerset had been dismissed for 90 in the first innings of this match, a deficit of 283, with only Azhar Ali (39) and Lewis Goldsworthy (15) reaching double figures. It was a picture to deaden the beat of even the most optimistic Somerset heart. The faint hope came from Somerset’s second innings 246 for 4 and Tom Lammonby’s coruscating second day century, during which he had made the all-conquering Lancashire bowlers of the first innings look less than ordinary. His partnerships with Ben Green and Azhar Ali, which had brought 194 runs before the fall of the second wicket, had finally lifted the spirits, and roused the cheers, of the Somerset crowd.

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Lammonby Revives as Somerset Falter – Somerset v Lancashire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – 12th, 13th and 14th September 2021 – Second Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 12th, 13th and 14th September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange, J. A. Brooks.  

Lancashire. G.P. Balderson, A.L. Davies (w), L.W.P. Wells, J.J. Bohannon, D.J. Vilas (c), R.P. Jones, S.J. Croft, D.J. Lamb, T.E. Bailey, J.M. Blatherwick, M.W. Parkinson.

Overnight. Lancashire 364 for 8.

Second day. 13th September – Lammonby revives as Somerset falter

The second day did not start as I would have hoped. A hospital appointment in the middle of the morning. Not ideal, especially in September. Had it not been for the half-past ten start, to the cricket that is, not the appointment, I might have made the last half hour before lunch. As it was, I relied on texts from the cricketer who had accompanied me on the first day, now watching from home on the live stream. They read, for the most part, like transcripts of morse code dispatches from the front in a bygone age. “Blatherwick caught slips 1,” said the first. “Bailey b de Lange 63. All out 373,” soon followed. A good start to the day, although 373 would present a considerable challenge to Somerset in September, but at least the final two wickets falling so quickly had brought some relief to the Somerset soul.

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Lancashire Rampant – Somerset v Lancashire – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – 12th, 13th and 14th September – First Day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 12th, 13th, and 14th September 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, B.G.F. Green, Azhar Ali, T.B Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, L.P. Goldsworthy, S.M. Davies (w), R.E. van der Merwe, E.O. Leonard, M. de Lange, J. A. Brooks.  

Lancashire. G.P. Balderson, A.L. Davies (w), L.W.P. Wells, J.J. Bohannon, D.J. Vilas (c), R.P. Jones, S.J. Croft, D.J. Lamb, T.E. Bailey, J.M. Blatherwick, M.W. Parkinson.

Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory and Josh Davey, Somerset’s three first-choice pace bowlers in 2021 were unavailable for this match. Ned Leonard made his first-class debut.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

First day 12th September – Lancashire rampant

No matter how far into September the cricket season stretches, the half-past ten start is always liable to catch me out, especially on a sun-filled morning like this one. It shouldn’t. The ten-thirty start happens every year. And yet, every year it comes as a surprise. And so, I and the cricketer watching the match with me, walked through the Brian Rose gates just in time to see Ned Leonard deliver a ball from the River End to Lancashire’s 20-year-old left-hander, George Balderson. The cricketer is only an occasional live-watcher and so has more of an excuse than I for not registering the half past ten start. Balderson is presumably more attuned to cricket at such an hour, for he had already found the boundary four times, once with a neat on drive which had flowed along the ground to the cricket afficionados who inhabit the benches on Gimblett’s Hill. Somerset’s debutant pace bowler, Leonard, the victim of Balderson’s early forays.

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The Day the Dream Died – Yorkshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Scarborough – 5th and 6th September – Final Day

Due to being unable to travel to Scarborough for this match this report was written through watching Yorkshire CCC’s live stream with Yorkshire CCC being advised, and after the stream became unavailable for the final session from the evening highlights package. Without the live stream and highlights 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 Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 5th and 6th September 2021. Scarborough.

Yorkshire. A. Lyth, G.C.H. Hill, T. Kohler-Cadmore, G.S. Ballance, H.C. Brook, D.M.Bess, H.G. Duke (w), J.A. Thompson, D.J. Willey, M.D. Fisher, S.A. Patterson.

Somerset. T.B Abell (c), T.A. Lammonby, Azhar Ali, J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), T. Banton, B.G.F. Green, M.J. Leach, J.H. Davey, M de Lange.

Overnight. Somerset 134. Yorkshire 159 for 5. Yorkshire lead by 25 runs with five first innings wickets standing.

Final day. 6th September – The day the dream died

This was effectively the day Somerset’s 2021 County Championship dream died. Two matches remain, but by the end of this round any remaining hopes will be, at best, mathematical. At the start of the day Somerset could still cling to a slender hope. By the end, Harry Brook, Jordan Clarke, the Yorkshire lower order and the terminal pressure applied by the Yorkshire bowlers had won the match. The 2021 Championship dreams of Somerset supporters were no more.

In ancient times, societies used to look for omens when on the brink of great events. With a colossal pre-lunch effort needed if Somerset were to turn this match around, Marchant de Lange opened the bowling. Had an ancient priest or priestess been called upon to read Somerset’s auguries for the day, de Lange’s first three balls going down the leg side, one for four byes, would have had them holding their heads in their hands. De Lange never found his mark in his standard four-over opening spell. Even a brief rain break at the end of the second over did not allow him to reset his radar. One ball did move away beautifully to beat Duke, but otherwise the ball tended to either go down the leg side, or swing too wide of off stump to trouble the batsmen who showed no interest in anything that did not threaten them.

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The Five Pacemen of the Apocalypse – Yorkshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Scarborough – 5th and 6th September – First Day

Due to the author being unable to travel to Scarborough for this match this report was written following a day watching Yorkshire CCC’s live stream with Yorkshire being advised. Without the live stream 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 Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 5th and 6th September 2021. Scarborough.

Yorkshire. A. Lyth, G.C.H. Hill, T. Kohler-Cadmore, G.S. Ballance, H.C. Brook, D.M.Bess, H.G. Duke (w), J.A. Thompson, D.J. Willey, M.D. Fisher, S.A. Patterson.

Somerset. T.B Abell (c), T.A. Lammonby, Azhar Ali, J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), T. Banton, B.G.F. Green, M.J. Leach, J.H. Davey, M de Lange.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 5th September – The five pacemen of the apocalypse

Somerset are discovering the strength of the first division of the second phase of this year’s County Championship. A crushing three-day defeat by Nottinghamshire at Taunton has been followed by a superior, if not yet dominant, first-day performance by Yorkshire at Scarborough. Somerset are without Craig Overton and Lewis Gregory, both key to their pace attack, and Overton might have been devastating on this pitch. As it was, Josh Davey, as so often, put his heart and soul into his bowling and came away with three wickets. He is largely responsible for keeping Somerset, if barely, in this match. The Yorkshire attack, even though it was lacking Ben Coad, looked decidedly the more effective of the two on this pitch. Even without Coad, Yorkshire were able to deploy five pace bowlers capable of bowling as a cohesive unit with gnawing accuracy and testing bite throughout the Somerset innings. By the end of the day, Yorkshire were taking a grip of this match while Somerset were fighting to hold on.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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