What a day! The RLODC Final 2019

Royal London One-Day Cup. Somerset v Hampshire. Final. 25th May 2019. Lord’s.

I was unable to attend the Lord’s final for reasons that transcend even cricket, and which will become apparent in the report which follows. Neither was I able to watch the live television transmission. I have however been a Somerset supporter since the days of Maurice Tremlett, and Somerset cricket runs deep through my veins. There is, therefore, no law or force of nature, from this end of the Universe to the other, which could keep my mind entirely away from cricket on such a day. What follows is a report about a day of great spectacle, at Lord’s and in Somerset. Somerset supporters, wherever they are in the world, whatever they are doing, will always find a way of keeping up with the score and getting what reports of the action they can; and when they can, of watching some footage of the play, on the day or afterwards. From my doing all those things emerges this report of a day of hope, anticipation and joy unbounded at Lord’s and in Somerset …

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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 was as if he had called off Nottinghamshire’s assault on Somerset’s total, for 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 to Trent Bridge: “We don’t want to see 30 overs of Alex Hales batting.” After that third ball Azhar seemed to sense an opportunity 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. It was as if he was demonstrating his ability to take control of a match. The fear of the Somerset supporter was that unchecked he would do precisely that. Now, suddenly, Hales 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. It left Nottinghamshire on 125 for 3 in the 20th over, still needing another 213 runs to overhaul Somerset. The required run rate had risen past seven and a half an over. That is not insurmountable in these days of 350-plus scores, but it seemed to give Hales pause for thought. 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 quarter-final play-offs, a defeat would mean elimination from the competition. 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 different pitches. The Somerset innings was a disjointed, directionless, stop-start affair which fizzled out with barely a single coherent 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 a 50-over match, 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.

Somerset. T.Banton (w), Azhar Ali, P.D. Trego, L. Gregory, J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, C. Overton, T.B. Abell (c), R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, T.D. Groenewald.

Essex. Sir Alistair Cook, P.I. Walter, T. Westley, D.W. Lawrence, R.S. Bopara, R.N. ten Doeschate (c), S.R. Harmer, R.G. White (w), P.M. Siddle, M.R. Quinn, S.J. Cook.

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 when DLS is applied.Read More »

A batting and bowling masterclass

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

Sussex. P.D. Salt, S. van Zyl, L.J. Evans, H.Z. Finch, B.C. Brown (c) (w), D. Wiese, C.J. Jordan, G.H.S. Garton, W.A.T.Beer, D.R. Briggs, Mir Hamza.

Somerset. T. Banton (w), Azhar Ali, P.D. Trego, J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), L. Gregory, C. Overton, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, T.D. Groenewald, J.H. Davey.

Toss. Sussex. Elected to field.

A batting and bowling masterclass

Tom Paxton was at it again. Last year a concert of his ended up causing me to be 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 re-live the London commuting days of my exile. Would I had known in those days the antidote to a twelve hundred-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. Read More »

Back to the edge of my seat

 

 

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

Glamorgan. C.R. Hemphrey, C.A.J.Meschede, M.Labuschagne, D.L. Lloyd, W.T. Root, K.S. Carlson, C.B. Cooke (c) (w), G.G. Wagg, M. de Lange, L.J. Carey, T.van der Gugten.

Somerset. Azhar Ali, T. Banton (w), P.D. Trego, J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell, L. Gregory, R.E. van der Merwe, C. Overton, D.M. Bess, T.D. Groenewald, J.H. Davey.

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.

Somerset. Azhar Ali, T Banton (w), P.D. Trego, J.C. Hildreth, T.B. Abell (c), L. Gregory, R.E. van der Merwe, C. Overton, D.M. Bess, J.H. Davey, T.D. Groenewald.

Kent. Z. Crawley, S.R. Dickson, M.T. Renshaw, O.G. Robinson, A.J. Blake, A.P. Rouse (c) (w), D.I Stevens, H.W. Podmore, H.E. Milnes, Imran Qayyum, F.J. Klaassen.

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 did not ‘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 »