2017 ~ Championship reality

This is the second in the series of ‘Farmer White’ reports from Somerset’s 2017 season. The originals appeared on grockles.com immediately after the cricket was played. and are reproduced here with additional information which sets the context of the match. The original reports are contained within quotation marks, appear in a slightly darker font and are headed by the grockles.com post header which gives the time of the original posting of the report. I was unable to attend the final (third) day of the match due to travelling to London for a quinquennial event. There is a brief resumé of the day after the reports on the first two days. The reports start with a brief season preview. The lesson to be learned from the preview – predictions are for soothsayers and not for humble cricket-watchers. 

CHAMPIONSHIP REALITY 

~   ESSEX   ~ 

“And so, in the end, yesterday was more cold water than warm glow and the breeze from beyond the Trescothick Stand … was chill to the bone.”

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 14th, 15th and 16th April 2017. Somerset v Essex. Read More »

The County Championship goes east

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th September 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. No play on Day 3. Somerset 203. Essex 25 for 0. Essex trail Somerset by 178 runs.

Final day. 26th September – The County Championship goes east

The final day of this match left a montage of memories crashing around in the mind. Marcus Trescothick walking out to a tremendous ovation just before the end to field at slip for the last time is one to be treasured. The eerie emotion-pummelling silence every time a bowler left his mark during that, at last, sunlit hour when Somerset supporters hoped, and Essex ones feared, a Somerset miracle might happen. The tumultuous cheers of Somerset supporters and chants of “Somerset La La La” every time an Essex wicket fell or a batsman was beaten and the applause of Essex supporters and chants of “Essex, Essex” whenever a boundary was struck. The pulsating atmosphere surged, roared, throbbed, ebbed and flowed in every corner of the ground. It was as if it were some physical entity you could reach out and touch. You couldn’t of course, but you could feel it in every sinew in your body.Read More »

Championship hopes cloud over

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th September 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 203. Essex 25 for 0. Essex trail Somerset by 178 runs.

Third day. 25th September. No Play. Rain and wet outfield.

Championship hopes cloud over

It was a day of checking weather Apps, low fast-moving grey cloud, pulses of rain, covers coming off and going back on, umpires inspecting, ground staff mopping up just in time for another blast of mizzle or spate of heavier rain and, in the end, waiting endlessly for wet ground to dry out. The sky dropped repeated visitations of the sort of mizzle against which an umbrella acts as a trap to hold it around your face, and heavier bursts of rain. The sky brought no hope at all to Somerset supporters, just a conveyor belt of low grey cloud. Seeing no immediate prospect of play I took a more leisurely stroll around the ground than is usually possible at the start of a day’s play. The conversations were as much about the weather as they were about the cricket, for the weather was taking an increasingly strong grip on the match and in so doing tightening Essex’s grip on the Championship.Read More »

“I want Roelof in the side”

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th September 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 75 for 4.

Second day. 24th September – “I want Roelof in the side”

“I want Roelof in the side. He makes thing happen.” So said my cricket-watching companion before the teams had been announced on the first morning. My protestations that Somerset would not need three spinners, for only two can bowl at once, and that van der Merwe seemed to have ‘lost’ his red ball batting were swept aside. Well, Roelof was in the side, along with Bess and Leach, and on the second day he indeed did make things happen. In a glorious three-quarters of an hour in the afternoon sun he swept the all-conquering Harmer aside. Whether he did enough, and whether the weather will hold long enough, to give Somerset a chance of turning the top of the Championship table upside down remains to be seen. The odds against Somerset succeeding remain horribly long for Essex still hold all the cards, the time remaining in the game is desperately short and the weather stubbornly autumnal. But van der Merwe has kept the flame of Somerset’s hopes alight and, it seems, he does “make things happen”.Read More »

Five spinners and a deluge

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Essex. 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th September 2019. Taunton.

Essex travelled to Taunton for the last match of the season 12 points ahead of second-placed Somerset. To win the Championship Somerset would need to win the match. For Essex a draw would be sufficient. The forecast for all four days was poor as the remnants of the latest tropical storm swept in from the Atlantic.  

Somerset. M. Vijay, S.M. Davies (w), T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, G.A. Bartlett, L. Gregory, D.M Bess, C. Overton, R van Der Merwe, M.J. Leach. 

Essex. N.L.J Browne, Sir A.N. Cook, T. Westley, D.W. Lawrence, B.S. Bopara, T.N. ten Doeschate (c), A.J.A. Wheater (w), S.R. Harmer, A. Nijjar, J.A. Porter, S.J. Cook. 

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 23rd September – Five spinners and a deluge

As we left the house the high white cloud, blue sky and sun recalled the summer warmth of the days before the weekend just gone. The chill on the air hinted, but no more, of autumn. The forecast might have had Noah worried. And so, the final round of County Championship matches of 2019 began on the day of the Autumn Equinox. The Quantocks had cast off their bright summer colours and were dressed in drab winter dowds. The Atlantic storms, which end their days passing through these parts in autumn and winter have begun their annual pilgrimage. They shroud the Quantocks from the view of those of us in the valley as they push by.Read More »

From van der Merwe to van Gogh

T20. Essex v Somerset. 7th August 2019. Chelmsford.

Somerset. Babar Azam, T. Banton (w), J.C. Hildreth, E.J. Byrom, T.B. Abell (c), T.A. Lammonby, R.E. van der Merwe, C. Overton, T. Groenewald, J.E. Taylor, M.T.C. Waller. 

Essex. T. Westley, C.S. Delport, A.J.A. Wheater (w), D.W. Lawrence, R.N. ten Doeschate, R.S. Bopara, P.I. Walter, S.R. Harmer (c), A.P. Beard, A. Zampa, Mohammad Amir. 

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

From van der Merwe to van Gogh

The thing about staying in London to watch evening cricket is you can take in something else the next day before starting the long journey back to Somerset. This time it was the Van Gogh and Britain exhibition at Tate Britain. The tickets were cheaper than for most T20 matches but the event was just as crowded. It was rather like watching cricket at an outground. Through a forest of heads. The Starry Night probably attracted the largest crush. Almost impossible to get an unimpeded view. Until I happened on the idea of looking from almost side on. The view was completely unobstructed. And the light was different from that angle. The painting seemed a deeper, richer blue than from head on and the fast-moving, swirling, sweeping lines that make up van Gogh’s dazzling night sky almost overwhelmed the senses. A van Gogh masterpiece.Read More »

Routed

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 23rd, 24th and 25th June. Chelmsford.

Overnight. Essex 216 and 164 for 6. Somerset 131. Essex lead by 249 runs with four second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 25th June – Routed

Perhaps Guildford 2018 should have sprung into my mind as Somerset were being routed on the third day at Chelmsford in 2019. But it didn’t. It has appeared there now but only because I have been searching for a benchmark against which to measure my feelings during the inexorable descent to a 151-run defeat to Essex in a low scoring match. There is a distinct difference between the two defeats. Guildford was a seismic destruction of Somerset’s 2018 Championship hopes. The destruction of those hopes was plain to see for many of us present long before the match was over. Neither the Somerset batsmen nor the bowlers remotely competed with their Surrey counterparts and many of us left Guildford in no doubt that Surrey would be champions.Read More »

Somerset fall behind

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th June. Chelmsford.

Overnight. Essex 216. Somerset 32 for 1. Somerset trail by 184 with nine first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 24th June – Somerset fall behind

The morning of the second day was very like the afternoon of the first, at least as far as the behaviour of the ball, pitch, overhead and atmospheric conditions were concerned. The dominance of bowlers over batsmen was equally pronounced on both occasions. On the first afternoon and evening Essex lost their last nine wickets in the space of 90 runs. Now, on the second morning and early afternoon Somerset lost their last nine wickets in the space of 77 runs. Food there to feed the debate about whether an individual’s prospects are most shaped by their endeavours or by their circumstances. Here the circumstances, or conditions, in which each side bowled and batted were the same and, unless 13 runs is cause for dispute, so were the outcomes. The difference between the sides on first innings was the 110 runs scored for the loss of one wicket in the much more batsman friendly conditions of the first morning.Read More »

A test of a match

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th June. Chelmsford.

Toss. Essex. Elected to bat.

First day. 23rd June – A test of a match

Somerset travelled to Chelmsford for the greatest test of their Championship ambitions to date. This is Somerset’s seventh match in the competition, they have won five of the previous six, but it is their first against a county in the top half of the table. It is also against Essex, perhaps Somerset’s strongest challengers, on the ground where Essex have won every Championship match this season. Key to Essex’s success has been Stephen Harmer’s off spin and the 31 wickets he has taken on a pitch which has a reputation for increasing turn as a match progresses. When Essex won the toss and elected to bat they handed themselves the prospect of building a score which Harmer could exploit.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 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 »

1962 all over again

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

Essex won the Championship at a canter in 2017. Somerset had lost heavily in both Championship matches against them. The Championship match between the two sides at Chelmsford in June 2018 had ended in a tightly fought draw. Now Somerset were challenging, if somewhat distantly, for the Championship themselves. This match would be a good test of their progress over the preceding year.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

The talk at the back of the Somerset Pavilion (elevated) was of Peter Wight. Of Peter Wight and Fred Trueman. Of the day in 1962 when Fred Trueman arrived late for the Championship match at Taunton and was sent home by the Yorkshire captain for his pains.Read More »

Standing firm

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. Final Day.

Somerset had taken two wickets as Essex started their innings on the third evening which raised hopes that Somerset might force a victory. However the pitch had realised 941 runs for the loss of just 17 wickets on the first three days. If Somerset were to win a long day beckoned. 

Overnight: Essex 517 for 5 dec and 17 for 2. Somerset 407. Essex lead by 127 runs with 8 second innings wickets standing.

A match which had trundled along at under three and a half runs an over and which seemed to have quietly fallen asleep was roused from its slumbers when, after a session of accumulation Essex started to accelerate their scoring after ‘Lunch’. When Essex declared and set Somerset 319 to win off 50 overs the match jumped from the dull featherbed on which it had, thus far, been played and sprang to life.Read More »

Keeping going

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. Third Day.

Somerset had started well in response to Essex’s large first innings score but would need to bat well over a long period on the third day to stay in the game. 

Overnight: Essex 517 for 5 dec. Somerset 140 for 2. Somerset trail by 377 runs. 

This match is being played with a pink ball and at a time of day which challenges the temporal senses. It requires floodlights to ease the effect of the midsummer late evening gloaming. But for all that the third day was a day of taut grinding cricket of the old kind. Tense enough to bring the edge of the seat into use as the follow on, or the avoidance of it, became the issue of the day.Read More »

Hard going

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. Second Day.

For the second match in succession Somerset entered the second day with their opponents threatening to build a commanding score. Like Surrey, Essex were among the stronger teams in the Championship having won the title the previous year. 

Overnight: Essex 298 for 4. 

For the second day in succession there was not a cloud in the sky. The sun bore down, if not with quite the intensity of the first day, with enough intent for me to seek from the start the sanctuary of the lower level of the Tom Pearce Stand. The crowd was, if anything, smaller than on the first day and it concentrated itself in the shaded areas and on the Pavilion Terrace which falls into the shade around the ‘Lunch’ interval. One stand which faces as directly into the sun as the Colin Atkinson Pavilion at Taunton was as sparsely populated as the Somerset Stand on an April evening.Read More »

A sterling effort

County Championship Division 1. Essex v Somerset. 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June 2018. Chelmsford. First Day.

Somerset came to Chelmsford to face the County Champions having just been heavily defeated by Surrey at Guildford. As a consequence of that defeat Surrey had replaced Somerset at the top of the Championship table. 

This match was played with a pink ball, under lights when the light faded, with a 2.00 p.m. start. 

Jamie Overton returned to the Somerset team after injury for the first time in a year.Read More »