Having a whale of a time

Royal London One-Day Cup. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. Semi-final. 12th May 2019. Trent Bridge.

Toss. Nottinghamshire. Elected to field.

Having a whale of a time

Alex Hales played the first three balls of Roleof van der Merwe’s over quietly back down the pitch. It felt like he had signalled the end for Nottinghamshire. It marked a sea-change in his approach. Until then his batting had been belligerent and had threatened to become devastating. It had reminded me of something someone said on the Somerset supporters’ coach on the way up: “We don’t want to see 30 overs of Alex Hales batting.” Azhar Ali seemed to sense the change as he shouted encouragement to van der Merwe. The change in Hales’ approach was startling. Until then he had tried to dominate the Somerset bowling at every opportunity. He had demonstrated the capacity to take control of the match. The fear of the Somerset supporter was that, unchecked he would do precisely that. Now he was feeling his way, perhaps giving himself time to re-assess the situation after Ben Duckett had announced himself by mishitting van der Merwe to Craig Overton who took a finely judged catch right on the rope. Nottinghamshire found themselves 125 for 3 in the 20th over still needing another 213 with the required run rate rising past seven and a half. Read More »

Unity of purpose

Royal London One-Day Cup. Worcestershire v Somerset. Quarter-final play-off. 10th May 2019. Worcester.

Toss. Worcestershire. Elected to field.

Unity of purpose

In the old days this match would have been a major event on the cricketing landscape. Quarter and semi-finals were anticipated for weeks in advance. The great set-piece battles of the domestic cricketing landscape. Victory or defeat remained enshrined in the memory of the county supporter for weeks and months afterwards. Sometimes years, even decades afterwards. Read More »

A Somerset performance to match the splendour of the Quantocks

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Surrey. 5th May 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

A Somerset performance to match the splendour of the Quantocks

And so it was all or nothing on this match. From a Somerset perspective it was an old-style knock-out match. Realistically, a win would mean a place in the play-offs, a defeat would mean elimination. That focuses the mind. No second chances. No next game in which to rectify matters. Just win or have a week watching others trying to reach the final. For Surrey there was nothing to play for but, as they say, pride. I have often wondered about that. How focused teams really are when there is nothing on the game for them. As far as I could see there was no lack of effort or focus from Surrey. They came at this game hard. Read More »

Outplayed

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Hampshire. 5th May 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

Outplayed

Bewilderment and dismay would best sum up the feelings of every Somerset supporter I spoke to after the Somerset innings and again after the Hampshire innings. It had been as if the two innings had been played on two different pitches. The Somerset innings was a disjointed, directionless, stop-start affair which fizzled out with barely a single coherent extended passage of play. The Hampshire innings knew exactly where it was going and went there virtually untroubled and at speed, doubtless helped by the fact that it did not have far to go. A target of 217, in this day and age, is unlikely to trouble any team on any but the most troublesome of pitches. By the end it was clear that the pitch for this match did not provide a reason for this defeat.Read More »

Nightmare on Watling Street

Royal London One-Day Cup. Middlesex v Somerset. 1st May 2019. Radlett.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

Nightmare on Watling Street

It was like the reverse of being in one of those nightmares in which, however fast you run, the plodding steps of the chasing ogre always closes the gap until you wake up in a cold sweat. At Radlett it was Somerset who did the plodding in pursuit of the Middlesex ogre which raced increasingly far into the distance and never really looked like being caught. There was no cold sweat. Just a sinking feeling, which started when the Middlesex openers snatched control of the game, and which sank deeper and deeper as the day wore on. There was never any respite for Somerset.Read More »

Slow pitch blues

Royal London One-Day Cup. Gloucestershire v Somerset. 28th April 2019. Bristol.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

Slow pitch blues

“Does this bus stop at Nevil Road for the cricket?” I asked the bus driver. “I hope so, because I don’t know what I am going to do with this lot if it doesn’t,” was the reply as he pointed to about a dozen assorted men all dressed more or less as I was. Observation is not necessarily my strong point it seems. “We can expect some fireworks today then, can we?” was the question put to me by a Gloucestershire supporter when I told him, in answer to his previous question, that Somerset had topped 350 from 39 overs in their last match.Read More »

Trego and Azhar make their mark

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Essex. 26th April 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Essex. Elected to field.

Trego and Azhar make their mark

The text I sent said, “Lost toss. Batting. Green pitch. Lights on. Overcast. Rain forecast.” The unspoken part of it referred to the conventional wisdom that in one-day cricket with the DLS system in play and rain about it is best to bat second when any effect of the weather might be better known. In this match, and the last, Somerset have shown that where the first innings is uninterrupted and a large score is posted the loss of early wickets by the team batting second can have a devastating effect on their prospects.Read More »

A batting and bowling masterclass

Royal London One-Day Cup. Sussex v Somerset. 24th April 2019. Hove.

Toss. Sussex. Elected to field.

A batting and bowling masterclass

Tom Paxton again. Last year a concert of his ended up with my being involved in one of those mad rushes to Taunton for the first day of the season, from the wrong end of the country, that had marked the days of my exile. This year his concert put me at the right end of the country for the match but having to relive the London commuting days of my exile. Would I had then known the antidote to a 1200 strong tide of people pouring off a train and threatening to swamp you. A Wyvern hat on your head and a Somerset umbrella held out before you cuts a swathe through the most determined flood of people late for work. One of them even managed a shout of “Somerset!” and a ‘thumbs-up’. There were perhaps 700-800 people in the ground when the match started although that grew later. A Sussex supporter told me there had been 4000 in the sun at the weekend. On this day two coats were needed.Read More »

Count no chickens

Royal London One-Day Cup. Glamorgan v Somerset. 21st April 2019. Cardiff.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

Back to the edge of my seat

This was a Somerset win of the old kind. Not to be bestowed on supporters without an extended stomach-wrenching occupation of the narrowest of narrow edges of the seat. Not to mention an assault on the blood pressure which ought to be illegal in this day and age. “Self-inflicted,” the extent of the sympathy I received when I finally arrived home and slumped in a chair.Read More »

Relentless

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Kent. 19th April 2019. Taunton.

Toss. Kent. Elected to field.

Relentless

“Kent didn’t really turn up did they?” said the person with me as Davey caught Milnes to give Craig Overton his fifth wicket, Somerset their tenth and the match by 264 runs. It was true in both senses of the phrase. Firstly, in the literal sense, five key Kent players were unavailable for various reasons. Secondly, in the sporting sense, the Kent team that did enter the field of play, at least when it came out to bat, did not appear to perform. The truth of it though was not that Kent didn’t ‘turn up’, but that Somerset did not permit them to play. It was an utterly uncompromising Somerset performance cast in the mould of the Championship victory over Nottinghamshire the previous weekend. Somerset simply overpowered Kent.Read More »

Somerset’s ‘Dorian Gray’ portrait

 RLODC. Taunton. 10th May 2017. Somerset v Hampshire.

This match was played a few days after Somerset’s stunning performance against Glamorgan at Cardiff. Tolstoy is joined by Oscar Wilde and the occasional artist. At the time Taunton’s scoreboards were famously erratic.

On Friday after Somerset’s all but perfect performance at Cardiff I reported that Leo Tolstoy, denier of perfection, turned in his grave. Today at Taunton Oscar Wilde must have smiled in his for we had the cricketing version of The Picture of Dorian Gray.Read More »

Somerset stun Tolstoy

RLODC. Glamorgan v Somerset. 5th May 2017. Cardiff. 

This match took place in the 2017 Royal London One-Day Cup. The references to matches against Surrey and Kent are to matches which took place earlier in the 2017 competition. The references to the Taunton scoreboards are to their propensity to break down at the time. A shortcoming now rectified by the installation of new scoreboards. 

And for those who were not there …

“If you look for perfection you will never be content,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina. It is a dictum many cricket followers would do well to remember. No bowler can bowl as well as the critic at the back of the stand. No batsman bat as well as the one in the bar. Then on the field there is always the long hop or the full toss to irritate. The one left on to the stumps or the charged down the wicket to be stumped to exasperate. We watch a game perfect in every respect in our minds yet riddled with imperfections in the playing. Not though if you were a Somerset supporter at Glamorgan’s Sophia Gardens of old on Friday. Somerset’s performance was all perfection or as near to it as any cricket is ever likely to be.Read More »

Cider and hops ~ 1967-83

Somerset v Kent in one-day cricket – from the 1967 Gillette Cup Final to the 1983 NatWest Trophy Final

From 1967 to 1983 Kent were one of Somerset’s main one-day rivals. It was a decade and a half marked by periodic set-piece matches between two great one-day sides. The Somerset teams of the time contained such great Somerset names as Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Tom Cartwright, Peter Denning, Vic Marks, Joel Garner, Hallam Moseley, Derek Taylor, Roy Virgin, Mervyn Kitchen, Peter Roebuck, Graham Burgess, Colin Dredge, Brian Close, Brian Rose and in the very first match Bill Alley and Ken Palmer. For Kent there were Colin Cowdrey, Mike Denness, Asif Iqbal, Alan Knott, Derek Underwood, Alan Ealham, Bob Woolmer and John Shepherd; and for both sides, as they say, many others.Read More »

Somerset rampant

RLODC (50 overs) South Group. Somerset v Surrey. 18th May 2018. The Oval.

In 2018 Somerset made their best start to a County Championship season for a quarter of a century. This was the first match of the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

My coach from Somerset carefully times its journey to ensure I miss the first 15 minutes of any match starting at eleven o’ clock at The Oval. I arrived at the ground in a slightly disoriented state after changing tube trains at Kennington. I had hopped on the next clearly indicated ‘southbound’ train only for an equally clear announcement to inform me the train was going northbound to Ealing Broadway and the next stop was Elephant and Castle. As the overs slipped by I jumped off at ‘Elephant and Castle’ with the intention of running to the southbound platform only to discover I was already on it and at Oval station. The next announcement said a normal service was running on all lines.

I took off for the sanctuary of The Oval only to find the authorities there had pitched in with a bit more disorientation. No bag search. A white ball match without a bag search. What is the world coming to? I really began to wonder when I reached the top of the steps into the Peter May Stand. The scoreboard said 13 for 3.Read More »