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

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Hampshire CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Hampshire v Somerset. 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th May 2021. AGEAS Bowl.

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

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

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

Final day 9th May – An exceptional performance

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

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Waiting to see the light – Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – AGEAS Bowl – Day 3

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Hampshire CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Hampshire v Somerset. 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th May 2021. AGEAS Bowl.

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

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

Hampshire.

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

Third day 8th May – Waiting to see the light

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

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Overton Leads the Way – Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – AGEAS Bowl – 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 Hampshire CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Hampshire v Somerset. 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th May 2021. AGEAS Bowl.

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

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

Overnight. Hampshire 79. Somerset 142 for 5. Somerset lead by 63 runs with five first innings wickets standing.

Second day 7th May – Overton leads the way

Craig Overton has produced some wonderful performances for Somerset. Too many to pick one out from the rest. But, if there were picking to be done, this day would stand proud among the front line of candidates. With bat and ball Overton first drove Somerset forward, then held the line as Hampshire attempted to rally, and then broke through the Hampshire defences again just when a fighting Hampshire second innings was at its most determined. It was an exceptional performance. In the evening session, as Hampshire put up their sternest resistance of the match with the bat, Overton, ball in hand, seemed to grow larger in cricketing stature by the over. The harder Hampshire fought, the more determined he became and the more hostile and challenging his bowling became. It was a performance of which any Somerset heart could be proud. It was a performance which stood out more and more as the day progressed. But, above all, it stood out as an exemplar of the performance of the entire Somerset team.

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Somerset Battle Through – Hampshire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – AGEAS Bowl – 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 Hampshire CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Hampshire v Somerset. 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th May 2021. AGEAS Bowl.

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

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

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

First day 6th May – Somerset battle through

For the third time in their five matches to date in this competition Somerset won the toss and elected to field. Poor W.G. Grace must be wondering what the world of cricket has come to. Somerset also fielded first when Leicestershire won the toss and elected to bat. They have won all three of the matches in which they have fielded first thus far. The only match they have lost was the one in which the opposition won the toss and elected to field. The opposition on that occasion was Gloucestershire. Poor W.G. And perhaps by the end of the day even Grace was beginning to have doubts about his famous dictum. Or perhaps it is just that we live in a different cricketing world. For, by the end of a day on which they bowled Hampshire out for 79 and ground out a lead of 63 with still five wickets standing, Somerset had done more than enough to justify their decision.  

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Someone Always Stands Up – Somerset v Middlesex – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – 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 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 Middlesex. 29th and 30th April, and 1st and 2nd May 2021. Taunton.

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

*J.A. Brooks was substituted for L. Gregory under the ECB COVID-19 Protocol from the third day.

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, P.S.P. Handscomb (c), R.G. White, J.A. Simpson (w), M.K. Andersson, L.B.K. Hollman, T.J. Murtagh. S.T. Finn, T.G. Helm.

Overnight. Middlesex 357 and 117. Somerset 268 and 104 for 4. Somerset need another 103 runs to win with six wickets standing.

Final day. 2nd May – Someone always stands up

Someone always stands up, or so they say about successful sports teams under pressure. In this match, for Somerset, virtually everyone stood up at different times, the more so the more critical to the outcome the situation became. Almost as many stood up for Middlesex across the match. The difference was that those standing up for Somerset did not wilt when the pressure on them was at it greatest. In an evenly balanced match, it is the team that best applies and absorbs pressure that wins. On a final morning of the most intense pressure and tension it was Somerset, in the form of the old master Steven Davies and the young debutant apprentice, Lewis Goldsworthy, who stood firm. Although it has to be said, the apprentice seemed to have as much to teach as to learn about dealing with pressure, and a head for it as old as any.

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Puck Changes the Mood – Somerset v Middlesex – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 3

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Middlesex. 29th and 30th April, and 1st and 2nd May 2021. Taunton.

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

*J.A. Brooks was substituted for L. Gregory under the ECB COVID-19 Protocol from the third day.

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, P.S.P. Handscomb (c), R.G. White, J.A. Simpson (w), M.K. Andersson, L.B.K. Hollman, T.J. Murtagh. S.T. Finn, T.G. Helm.

Overnight. Middlesex 357. Somerset 178 for 4. Somerset trail by 179 runs.

Third day 1st May – Puck changes the mood

This match is quite a tussle. Middlesex established a first innings lead of 89 having worked their way through Somerset’s last six wickets on the third morning for 90 runs. It might have been a decisive moment in the match had it not been for Somerset’s Overton and Davey who on the third afternoon led the way in reducing Middlesex’s second innings to 117 all out. It left Somerset with 207 to win, a greater task than it sounds on a pitch still offering pace and bounce and some movement. When Somerset fell to 17 for 2, with both openers gone, 207 seemed a universe away.

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A Mountain to Climb – Somerset v Middlesex – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 2

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Middlesex. 29th and 30th April, and 1st and 2nd May 2021. Taunton.

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, P.S.P. Handscomb (c), R.G. White, M.K. Andersson, J.A. Simpson (w), L.B.K. Hollman, 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), L.P Goldsworthy, C. Overton, L. Gregory, J.H. Davey, M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Middlesex 308 for 6.

Second day 30th April – A mountain to climb

Somerset began with Gregory from the River End and Overton from the Trescothick Pavilion End. For Middlesex Luke Hollman began by steering Overton past third slip and by cutting Gregory through backward point to the Somerset Stand, both for four. Another no ball from Gregory and a bouncer from Overton which cleared Davies’ upstretched arms added to the Middlesex score. Then, as the bowlers settled, they began to assert some control and seven overs passed for 11 runs.

Eventually Overton’s persistence found a way through. Hollman came forward in defence to a ball angled in from around the wicket. Delivered by Overton’s perfectly perpendicular arm the ball beat Hollman for pace. In what is perhaps the most spectacular sight in cricket the off stump cartwheeled, only coming to rest several yards beyond its mooring point. It was the sort of delivery and result which brings gasps of wonder and cheers of delight from supporters around a ground, and would have done so on this occasion from supporters in front of screens across Somerset and beyond. Feelings of relief too, for the Middlesex score, if slowly, was beginning to reach heights which would have given even the most worrisome Middlesex supporter cause for comfort.

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Oh, W.G. – Somerset v Middlesex – 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 Middlesex. 29th and 30th April, and 1st and 2nd May 2021. Taunton.

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

Middlesex. M.D.E. Holden, S.D. Robson, N.R.T. Gubbins, P.S.P. Handscomb (c), R.G. White, J.A. Simpson (w), M.K. Andersson, L.B.K. Hollman, T.J. Murtagh. S.T. Finn, T.G. Helm.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bowl.

First day 29th April – Oh, W.G.

Oh, W.G., does’t thee turn, head slowly shaking, in thy grave? It was a day when the sun shone bright, Somerset played two spinners and the wicket had a tinge of green as far as the eagle-eyed camera could discern. Before a ball was bowled my heart sank as the wonders of modern technology brought news from the ground that Somerset had won the toss and asked Middlesex to bat. Where the toss is concerned, I am a W.G. man, even when there is a tinge of green, and nothing happened on the first day to dissuade me of that view. More than six decades of watching Somerset play cricket has left me, based on my anecdotal memory it is true, convinced that the percentages weigh heavily in favour of batting on winning the toss, almost whatever the conditions. Forty minutes after lunch, Middlesex were 121 for 2, the ball was losing its early vim, Jack Leach had just replaced Tom Abell at the River End, Peter Handscomb had steered him neatly past James Hildreth at slip for four and another insertion anecdote was being lowered into the well of disappointed hopes.

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Back Within Range – Leicestershire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – Grace Road – 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 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  and 24th April 2021. Grace Road.

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

*R.K. Patel replaced C. Ackermann under the ECB concussion regulations from the second day.

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.

Overnight. Leicestershire 233 and 48 for 3. Somerset 318. Leicestershire trail by 37 runs with seven second innings wickets standing.

Final day 24th April – Back within range

In the end, Leicestershire, having just edged the first day, were beaten by a Somerset side which for over a decade had played its cricket in the first division of the pre-coronavirus County Championship. The first division was and will be again if it is revived after this season, a tough, unforgiving school. The core players of this Somerset team had their skills honed in that school. Players like Craig Overton, Tom Abell, Lewis Gregory and Jack Leach have known nothing else in four-day domestic cricket.

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The Balance Shifts Somerset’s Way – Leicestershire v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – 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 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)/R.K. Patel*, L.J. Hill, H.J. Swindells (w), B.W.M. Mike, C.F. Parkinson, C.J.C. Wright, D. Klein, G.T. Griffiths.

*R.K. Patel replaced C. Ackermann under the ECB concussion regulations from the second day.

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.

Overnight. Leicestershire 233. Somerset 53 for 3. Somerset trail by 180 runs.

Second day 23rd April – The balance shifts Somerset’s way

This has been a good game of cricket played on a good cricket wicket. There is help in the pitch for the bowlers and the batsman who applies himself can find runs in it. At the end of the first day the game was in the balance, perhaps with Leicestershire slightly ahead. At the end of the second, Somerset have moved ahead thanks to a succession of individual innings, three key partnerships which between them added 245 of Somerset’s 38 runs, and an exceptional spell from Craig Overton at the beginning of Leicestershire’s second innings. For Leicestershire Callum Parkinson bowled well enough, and was unlucky with dropped catches, to suggest he could make life difficult for Somerset in their second innings if Leicestershire could just set a target with some challenge in it. There was some good fortune too, particularly for Tom Abell who was dropped once and survived the closest of run out decisions.

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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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