Return from exile

I returned to live in Somerset in 2016 after 30 years living in the “Eastern Marches” of England. A time I refer to as my exile. I started to post pieces on grockles.com at the end of that season. It led to other posters on the site asking from whence I had suddenly emerged. This article, posted about three weeks after I first started to post was my reply. In it I tried to capture my love for Somerset and its cricket.

Return from exile. The author’s describes his love of Somerset and Somerset cricket.

All these years, or at least for most of the last three decades until this year, I lived in exile in the Eastern Marches of Southern England. There my white Somerset hat and maroon and white umbrella walked the streets in splendid isolation to the bemused curiosity of the local inhabitants.

With the exception of one woman, that is, who stopped me to ask the meaning of the design on the front of my hat.Read More »

“Winter well”

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 24th, 25th and 26th September 2018. Trent Bridge. Third Day.

Somerset entered what would almost certainly be the final day of this match and of their season with second place in the Championship guaranteed and needing seven wickets to conclude with a victory. With the now customary overrun completing my post for the previous day I was a little tardy in arriving at the ground…

Overnight: Somerset 463. Nottinghamshire 133 and 115 for 3 (f/o). Nottinghamshire trail by 215 runs with 7 second innings wickets standing.

The thought that has most often occurred to me over the years when I know I am going to be late for the cricket is, “I hope I don’t miss a hat trick…”Read More »

Business end

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 24th, 25th and 26th September 2018. Trent Bridge. Second Day.

Somerset started the second day 47 short of a fifth batting point with three wickets standing and needing two more points to secure second place in the County Championship if Essex took maximum points against Surrey. Nottinghamshire were still not safe from relegation as Lancashire, on 123 for 4 after a shortened first day, needed to reach 300 to overtake them and take sixth place. Essex had bowled Surrey out for 67 at the Oval and ended their first day on 197 for 2.

Overnight: Somerset 353 for 7.Read More »

Of genius and the sublime

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 24th, 25th and 26th September 2018. Trent Bridge. First Day.

Somerset travelled to Trent Bridge for what had looked, in the early weeks of the season, like it could have been a County Championship decider. When Nottinghamshire came to Taunton in June they were top of the table. Somerset won that match and replaced Nottinghamshire as leaders. 

Later that month Somerset travelled to Guildford where they lost to Surrey who replaced them at the top of the table. Now Somerset, with the Championship already won by Surrey, needed six points to ensure second place and Nottinghamshire needed six points to ensure safety from relegation.Read More »

Fighting hard

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 18th, 19th and 20th September 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

Somerset entered the third day of this match in a virtually hopeless situation. I was unable to attend until after Lunch but was able to follow most of the proceedings of the morning online. The question at the end of the second day had been whether Somerset would survive the third. Few I had spoken to expected the match to reach a fourth. Read More »

Somerset under the weather

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 18th, 19th and 20th September 2018. Taunton. Second Day.

I often fail to make the start of play if I have to complete one day’s post on the following morning. This was such a day. Surrey had threatened a gargantuan score at the end of the first day. Somerset pegged them back on the morning of the second. The question was how would Somerset bat against the Surrey attack that had swept all before it in 2018. Included in this report are some outline statistics about the strength of the Surrey attack.

Tom Banton made his First-Class debut in this match.

Read More »

Surrey on the road

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 18th, 19th and 20th September 2018. Taunton. First Day.

Surrey came to Taunton as County Champions on the back of nine successive Championship victories. In the away match at Guildford in June they had beaten Somerset by an innings. With that win they had overtaken Somerset at the top of the table and had remained there ever since. Surrey were undeniably the Championship team of the season.

The decision of the Cricket Discipline Commission and its implications for future pitch preparation was a repeated point of discussion among supporters and that is reflected in this post.

Lewis Gregory, injured in the previous match, was not available for this match.

Toss. Surrey. Elected to bat.

As someone said to me as I left my seat after the first day of this match it was like being transported back ten years to the days of the Taunton ‘roads’.Read More »

All Wright on the night

T20 Finals Day. Second Semi-Final: Somerset v Sussex. 15th September 2018. Edgbaston.

I was one of those lucky enough to obtain a ticket for T20 Finals day at Edgbaston. A nailbiting wait and a lot of redialling in a hotel room in Leeds on the first morning of Somerset’s match against Yorkshire at Headingley. Then a coach journey as long as a T20 match and enough razzmatazz to relaunch Billy Smart’s circus. Not everyone’s idea of a good day at the cricket but I enjoyed it and not just for the razzmatazz. There was some startlingly good cricket too.

For anyone who can bear it here is my report on Finals Day as it happened. Or at least as I saw it which is not necessarily the same thing…Read More »

A test of class

County Championship Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 10th and 11th September 2018. Southampton. Final Day.

As with the first day of this match I was unable to attend the second and final day. I followed virtually the whole of it online. Classic, although uncomfortable, armchair cricket following from a distance. Hampshire’s Abbot and Steyn continued to dominate in seam friendly conditions. The only real Somerset resistance came from Trescothick who demonstrated real determination, concentration and skill at the crease and the Overton brothers who briefly threatened Hampshire with the ball. Read More »

Seam from a distance

County Championship Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 10th and 11th September 2018. Southampton. First Day.

This was the only Championship match in 2018 I was unable to attend. I was also busy doing things which, for the most part, had been neglected during my cricket watching and writing through the summer. The amount of the first day of the match I could follow on line was therefore restricted.

I do not possess a smartphone and so was unable to keep up with the score when away from my laptop. Even when I had access to my laptop there was no live picture stream of this match so my access was limited to online scoreboards and some commentary. My report therefore concentrates on the trials and tribulations of trying to keep up with a fast-moving match as well as on the cricket itself. Read More »

Four days tied up in two

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 4th and 5th Sept 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

The match ended on the second day. Wickets continued to fall as batsmen continued to struggle particularly against the slow left arm spin of Leach and Maharaj as Somerset tried to hold back a Lancashire resurgance.

Overnight: Lancashire 99 and 7 for 2. Somerset 192. Lancashire need a further 86 runs to avoid an innings defeat with 8 second innings wickets standing.

Well, here I am on what should have been the third day of the match writing a report on a second day that had all the feel of a fourth day. In the immediate aftermath of the match it felt, to me at least, that we had been through four days in getting to the end of the second such had been the manic intensity of the cricket.Read More »

22 wickets and 298 runs in Stygian gloom

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Lancashire. 4th and 5th Sept 2018. Taunton.   First Day.

22 wickets fell on the first day of this match, 13 to spin and nine to seam. The ball turned before Lunch immediately raising the spectre of a pitch inspection. Lancashire opted to toss, won it and elected to bat. Somerset immediately put them under pressure and sustained the pressure through the day although not without facing significant pressure of their own from the Lancashire bowlers.

My report, in addition to covering the cricket and the watching of it, considered some of the issues surrounding pitches, spin bowling and how modern batsmen play spinners.Read More »

Yorkshire outpaced

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 29th, 30th 31st August and 1st September 2018. Headingley. Final Day.

Somerset started the last day needing eight wickets to defeat Yorkshire. Yorkshire needed an unlikely 411 further runs if they were to win. The first three innings of the match had all topped 300. It was by no means certain the pitch, on which 1066 runs had been scored in three days, would yield up those eight wickets. My report was delayed because I returned to Somerset via a brief sojourn in London.

Overnight: Somerset 399 and 339 for 7 dec. Yorkshire 320 and 8 for 2. Yorkshire need a further 411 runs to win with 8 wickets standing.

And now, back in Somerset after a circuitous return from Leeds, here is my final day report from Headingley…Read More »

Perfect day

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 29th, 30th 31st August and 1st September 2018. Headingley. Third Day.

The third day started with Surrey having a real prospect of an innings defeat over Nottinghamshire. Somerset needed to defeat Yorkshire to retain even a slim chance of overhauling Surrey in the Championship. They held the advantage after the second day but not to the extent that Surrey did over Nottinghamshire. It was crucial they move from being ahead in the game to stamping their authority on the match.

Overnight: Somerset 399. Yorkshire 292 for 7. Yorkshire trail Somerset by 107 runs with 3 first innings wickets standing.

The text read, “Perfect Day?” Well, it probably was.Read More »

Not too bad a day

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 29th, 30th 31st August and 1st September 2018. Headingley. Second Day.

Yorkshire had come into this match with relegation a possibility. Yorkshire supporters’ thoughts therefore were almost as much on the Worcestershire v Lancashire relegation battle as on this match. Somerset supporters had half an eye on the Surrey v Nottinghamshire game in the hope that Nottinghamshire might halt the Surrey juggernaut. Somerset came into the second day of the game with what appeared to be a clear advantage although the prospect of either side taking 20 wickets was far from certain. The running commentary from the Yorkshire crowd continued unabated…

Overnight: Somerset 374 for 8.Read More »

Cavalcade

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 29th, 30th, 31st August and 1st September 2018. Headingley. First Day.

Somerset arrived at Headingley doggedly hanging onto Surrey’s coat tails in the race for the Championship. A good start was essential.

Somerset won the toss and elected to bat.

I arrived at Headingley just after Lunch. As I reached the East Stand, square of the wicket, the first thing I saw was Hildreth edging Shaw past slip for four.Read More »

Gregory’s game

T20 Quarter Final. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 27th August 2018. Taunton.

This match was due to be played on 26th August but rain and a very wet outfield meant it was delayed until the following day. The delay took it too close to the Championship match at Headingley for the report to be finalised before it was time to travel north (via London). The final touches were therefore put to it in time for it to be posted on grockles.com as a curtain raiser on the eve of Finals Day.

Nottinghamshire had knocked Somerset out of both the T20 and 50 over competitions at the Quarter Final stage in 2017.

Nottinghamshire won the toss and elected to field.

The match may have been a day late but most must have got there or passed on their ticket from the rains of Sunday to someone who could get there for the ground was as near full as could be. It was certainly the crowd of the season. And it sounded like it. It was behind the Somerset team from the outset and cheered it on at every twist and turn of as mesmerising a game of cricket as could be hoped for.Read More »

A match for the ages

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd August 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

Somerset supporters arrived for the final day of this match fearing the worst. Browne and Westley had batted exceptionally well and with determination through the second half of the third day to give Essex hope of what had seemed an unlikely victory. There was no hint of weather intervening and so, with Essex needing another 189 runs to win, there would be a result one way or the other.

Overnight: Somerset 324 and 202. Essex 191 and 147 for 1. Essex need 189 more runs to win with 9 wickets standing,

“The winning team played with …. almost all enveloping power,”Read More »

Of stable doors

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd August 2018. Taunton. Third Day.

Somerset went into the third day of this match with a firm grip on the game. Surrey were similarly placed against Lancashire. If Somerset were to retain any hope of winning the Championship they would need to force a win against Essex.

Overnight: Somerset 324 and 32 for 1. Essex 191. Somerset lead by 165 with 9 second innings wickets standing.

What a difference a day makes. A day in which the mood of Somerset supporters metamorphosed from hopeful anticipation to unanticipated foreboding.Read More »

Bowled over

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd August 2018. Taunton. Second Day. 

Gregory’s innings apart the first day of this match had been a gruelling tussle for ascendancy. In the cold light of the second morning it felt like Somerset had gained the advantage on a pitch which had asked questions of the batsmen throughout the day.

Overnight: Somerset 308 for 1.

In the end the edge of the seat was not quite needed for Somerset edged the second day comfortably.Read More »