The ‘thousand-mile stare’

County Championship Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 16th, 17th and 18th September 2019. Southampton.

Overnight. Hampshire 196 and 176 for 8. Somerset 142 (K.J. Abbott 9 for 40). Hampshire lead by 230 runs with two second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 18th September – The ‘thousand-mile stare’

This was a crushing defeat in a match in which victory would have taken Somerset a long way towards their first County Championship. They succumbed to outstanding bowling in both innings by a bowler who bowled throughout as if ‘on a mission’, although 68 wickets thus far this season suggests he has been rather effective against other teams too. Abbott’s 17 wicket’s in the match, apparently the first time the feat has been achieved in the County Championship since before the Second World War, is a phenomenal achievement. At lunch on the final day nothing seemed less likely. Somerset, 62 for 0 in pursuit of 281, with Abbott having bowled an apparently innocuous opening spell, seemed to be in little trouble. Within an hour of the restart the innings was almost over and by the end the only surprise was that Abbott had only taken 17 wickets.Read More »

Abbott unleashed

County Championship Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 16th, 17th and 18th September 2019. Southampton.

Overnight. Hampshire 196. Somerset 30 for 2. Somerset trail Hampshire by 166 runs with eight first innings wickets standing.

Overnight. Hampshire 196. Somerset 30 for 2. Somerset trail by 166 runs with eight first innings wickets standing. 

Second day. 17th September – Abbott unleashed

This is a match in which the balance has swung first one way and then the other but by the end of the second day the overall direction of travel was heavily in Hampshire’s favour. With Essex only eight points behind Somerset at the start of this round of matches and well ahead in their match against Surrey at Chelmsford, defeat in this match could end Somerset’s Championship challenge, for although Essex and Somerset meet in the final round of matches the forecast for the final week is poor.

There are no such issues with the forecast here. There will be a result in this match and if Somerset are to maintain their position in the Championship, they will have to win it. I do not recall seeing a cloud in the sky all day. The decision to end play for bad light can only have been related to shadows covering the pitch and the setting of the sun on a day that, along with the heavy defeats at Chelmsford and Headingley, may, if Somerset cannot safely negotiate the new ball in their second innings, cast a shadow over Somerset’s season. Read More »

In the balance

County Championship Division 1. Hampshire v Somerset. 16th, 17th and 18th September 2019. Southampton.

Somerset travelled to Southampton eight points clear at the top of the Championship. The match against Hampshire would be the second of their last three matches. All three involved other the teams in the top half of the table. Meanwhile Essex would play Surrey who had won only two matches in 2019 to Essex’s eight. Somerset’s final match of the season would be against Essex at Taunton. 

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. J.H. Davey 

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

Toss. Hampshire. Elected to bat.

First day. 16th September – In the balance

One of the greatest barriers to following Somerset around the country is the A303. In 2017 I went to the first ‘pink ball’ match in which Somerset had played. The ball went soft before its time, the weather was awful and Somerset’s run chase nearly ended in disaster. There was an accident on the A303 and it took us five and a half hours to get back to Somerset. There was no accident this time as we travelled towards Southampton on the day before the match. But there was traffic. Endless traffic. Tailbacks at every roundabout and at every one of those places where a stretch of dual carriageway or your priority on a single carriageway section ends. That is the A303 on a summer Sunday and, the onset of autumn notwithstanding, this was a glorious summer Sunday. It was while we were in one of those queues that my phone rang.Read More »

The chill of defeat

T20. Somerset v Hampshire. 26th July 2019. Taunton.

Somerset. Babar Azam, T. Banton (w), P.D. Trego, J.C. Hildreth, L. Gregory (c), T.B. Abell, T.A. Lammonby, R.E. van der Merwe, C. Overton, M.T.C. Waller, J.E. Taylor. 

A.H.T. Donald, R.R.Rossouw, J.N. Vince, S.A. Northeast, L.A. Dawson, C.H. Morris, J.K. Fuller, L.D. McManus (w), C.P. Wood, K.J. Abbott, M.S. Crane. 

Toss. Hampshire. Elected to field.

The chill of defeat

A chill blew through the Cooper Associates County Ground at the end of this match. A chill in the air, at least on the north face, the elevated section, of the Somerset Pavilion. And a chill in the spirit after a defeat for Somerset that had looked for all the world a victory in the middle section of this match. A chill too because Jerome Taylor, Somerset’s overseas ‘death’ bowler, had looked bereft of ideas in an over of astonishing hitting from Hampshire’s James Fuller which turned the match.Read More »

A dream of a match

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire 30th June, 1st, 2nd and 3rd July. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 408 and 358 for 8 dec. Hampshire 349 and 12 for 1. Hampshire need a further 406 runs to win with nine second innings wickets standing.

Final day. 3rd July – A dream of a match

There are times in life when a simple truth becomes, as the American constitution has it, ‘self-evident’. When the nagging questions are answered beyond dispute. When the doubts are expelled headlong from the mind. The final morning of this match was one such time. Somerset, now beyond any doubt, have a team capable of winning the County Championship. A team capable of becoming the greatest Somerset team of all time. Chickens though are best not counted. This team is ‘capable’ of those things. They are not yet written in stone. The Championship still has to be won, and this year Essex, and perhaps Yorkshire, may have their say and other counties will in subsequent years. Three of Somerset’s remaining six matches this season will be against those two sides. But after this performance those three matches may be considered opportunities at least as much as threats. Somerset now have their destiny firmly in their own hands to an extent unparalleled in their history.Read More »

Somerset race for the line

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire 30th June, 1st, 2nd and 3rd July. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 408. Hampshire 329 for 8. Hampshire trail by 79 runs with two first innings wickets standing.

Third day. 2nd July – Somerset race for the line

When I worked in London I used to walk along the Embankment in the evening to unwind. In the summer it was a restful experience watching the Thames flow by and the party boats slide up and down as if they were floating on air rather than water. It was less restful in the winter and early spring. In those dark evenings I would be constantly overtaken by an endless succession of runners toning themselves up for the London marathon. It mattered not how narrow the pavement nor how many obstacles had been planted there in the form of ‘street furniture’, the endless stream of runners just kept on coming past. It must have been a bit like that for Hampshire on the first and third days of this match as an endless succession of Somerset batsmen relentlessly passed by as they stacked up runs at the rate of four and a half an over. Read More »

Overton excels

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire 30th June, 1st, 2nd and 3rd July. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 408. Hampshire 15 for 1. Hampshire trail by 393 runs with nine first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 1st July – Overton excels

Somerset’s Championship prospects may have been encapsulated in this single match. In three of the last four seasons the team that has won the Championship has won ten or, in the case of Yorkshire in 2015 when 16 matches were played, 11 matches and not lost more than one. With Essex now playing in overdrive, driven by winning all four of their matches at Chelmsford, three inside three days, and challenging for Somerset’s top spot, there is no reason to think this season will be any different. The team that wins the Championship will probably win ten matches or very close. Essex, who have yet to win away from home, appear to be overwhelming favourites to win their current match against bottom placed Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Having won their last two matches they are building real momentum as the business end of the season approaches. With their next two matches being at Chelmsford there is every prospect that their momentum will continue. To win the Championship Somerset will have to match it.Read More »

Tremendous cricket

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire 30th June, 1st, 2nd and 3rd July. Taunton.

Before beginning the report on the first day’s play I would like to record that a minute’s silence was held before the start of play in memory of Charles Clark, Somerset CCCs late Chairman, who died recently.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 30th June – Tremendous cricket

That was a day of what Championship cricket should be all about if it is to bring the crowds in and keep them there. And it was certainly played in front of a bumper Championship crowd. Well upwards of 2000, possibly nearer 3000, by my estimate if the numbers in the Somerset Stand and the Temporary Stand where the old scoreboard used to be were any indication. And quite a few younger people than the norm for the Championship. I even had to field a ball when I went out to look at the pitch at lunchtime. It was the sort of first day in the days of three-day cricket which you would go home waxing lyrical about, especially if it were a Saturday after a working week.

There were liberal measures of cut and thrust, ebb and flow, batting to scintillate, bowling to exhilarate; not to mention 423 runs and 11 wickets. If your team is trying to win the Championship you might prefer all those terms to apply only to your own side. On the first day of this match they were shared although Somerset deserved the major portion. Perhaps. It will take at least another day of cricket to be sure, for by tea Somerset were in a position to bat Hampshire out of this match; by the close Hampshire had bowled themselves into a position from where they could at least see a route towards parity. Who knows where this match will be by the close of the second day.Read More »

County Championship 2017 ~ Nadir


~   HAMPSHIRE   ~ 

“The difference in the way Somerset and Hampshire batted in their second innings was stark and telling.” 

Somerset’s dismal start to the 2017 Championship season continued with a third defeat in the first four matches. The cricket is described, but the reports also reflect the lively debate among supporters about the reasons for the slump and thoughts about the possible reasons. Different times to some of the heights of 2018 and 2019, and a different type of report.

Specsavers County Championship. First Division. Taunton. 26th, 27th and 28th May 2017. Somerset v Hampshire. Read More »

What a day! The RLODC Final 2019

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

The author 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 he able to watch the live television transmission. He has however been a Somerset supporter since the days of Maurice Tremlett, and Somerset cricket runs deep through his veins. There is, therefore, no law or force of nature, from this end of the Universe to the other, which could keep his mind entirely away from cricket on such a day.

What follows is a report on 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 of getting what reports of the action they can from wherever they can; and if they can, of catching some highlights or passages of play. From the author doing all those things emerges this report of a day of hope, anticipation and joy unbounded at Lord’s and in Somerset.

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

Hampshire. T.P. Alsop (w), A.H.T. Donald, J.J. Weatherley, S.A. Northeast (c), R.R. Rossouw, G.K. Berg, J.K. Fuller, C.P. Wood, K.J. Abbott, M.S. Crane, F.H. Edwards.

Toss. Hampshire. Elected to field.

Well what a day that was! Always a worry in the lead up to such major outdoor events, the weather was perfect. Key players played their parts to perfection, and everyone involved made key contributions at key times. It was a truly astonishing day. One to be endlessly remembered, and doubtless endlessly recounted by all who made the trip. By those that is who made the trip from the South West, and all parts, to Lord’s to watch Somerset in the Royal London One-Day Cup Final; and by those who made the trip from all parts to the South West for the wedding. For that is what happens when the wedding fixture list comes out before the cricket fixture list. It turns out to be the year in which you find yourself at your son’s Somerset wedding on the same day as Somerset are at Lord’s determined not to be bridesmaids again after ten successive second-place finishes in the various domestic competitions. Fixture congestion is a common occurrence in sport, but it surely is not too much to hope that the ECB might have avoided a fixture clash with my son’s wedding.

Read More »


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

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.


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 »

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 »

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 »

A Rye look at the cricket

T20 South Group. Hampshire v Somerset. 8th August 2018. Southampton.

I did not travel to this match and so watched the live broadcast. It brought back unnerving memories of a very tight match at the same ground nearly a decade before.

Somerset won the toss and elected to field.

I am in trouble at home. Ruining the edges of seats at cricket grounds all around the country whilst watching Somerset is one thing. Ruining one at home is viewed less kindly I have discovered. Watching Somerset at home is far more gruelling than actually being at the match.Read More »

Relay race to victory ~ Hampshire v Somerset ~ RLODC 2018

That’ll teach you Farmer White! You do an analysis of Somerset’s RLODC campaign after the Gloucestershire match and point out that the opening partnership has failed to reach 50 once, that Peter Trego has made four 50s but failed to convert any of them to a three-figure score, that Somerset’s batsmen have only made one century in the entire competition and that a century tends to go with a competitive score on a flat pitch.  So off I go to Southampton, the openers put on 87 before Somerset get to the end of the 12th over, someone scores a century, it turns out to be Trego and Somerset score over 350. And what a match it was especially for the person who came with me for his first match of the season. He thought it was well worth the 350-mile round trip which he took to see it. We arrived an hour before the start and found ourselves parking towards the back of the last available car park. It was the best part of an hour before we could get away afterwards but the closeness of the car park to the ground probably made up for that and after a match like the one we had just watched we didn’t want to rush away from our seats. Read More »

Flashback. 2009.

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

On the third day the Somerset tail had extended Somerset’s total from a good one to an imposing one. By the end of the day the Hampshire top order had made a significant dent in Somerset’s lead as the feared flattening of the pitch came to pass.

Overnight: Hampshire 231 and 178 for 2. Somerset 506. Hampshire trail by 93 runs with 8 second innings wickets standing.

“Well, what are you going to find to write about that,” I was asked two or three overs from the end. What indeed.Read More »

The pitch has its say

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. Third Day.

At the start of the third day the match was set for Somerset’s tail, not devoid by any means of batting talent, to stretch an already very healthy first innings lead.

Overnight: Hampshire 231. Somerset 324 for 7. Somerset lead by 193 runs with 3 first innings wickets standing.

Late arriving at the Cooper Associates County Ground I made my way to the boundary near the covers store. As I arrived the ball screamed across the grass and crashed into the boards in front of the Ondaatje Stand. Hildreth I assumed had been on the other end of it. But no, Dom Bess was making his case to move up from number tenRead More »

Hildreth and Overton take the lead

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. Second Day.

Overnight: Hampshire 198 for 8.

What a difference a season makes. In the second half of 2017, with Somerset 30 points adrift in the relegation zone, it was a succession of performances like those of Hildreth and Craig Overton on the second day here that led Somerset to safety. A powerful team spirit underpins such performances. In 2018 such performances are driving Somerset towards the top of the table.Read More »

A team emerging

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Hampshire. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th May 2018. Taunton. First Day.

Somerset came into this match unbeaten after a classic rear guard action by Jack Leach and the tail had saved the previous match at Old Trafford. They had also won their first two matches and were second in the Championship table. Marcus Trescothick was unavailable for this match and would be for some matches to come after breaking a metatarsal whilst batting at Old Trafford. 

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field. 

Somerset started the match against Hampshire in second place in the Championship table, 17 points behind Nottinghamshire but with a game in hand. As far as such a thing can be said so early in the season they have their Championship future in their own hands. And such young hands. Only three of the side that took the field were over 30. The rest all under 27, six under 25, three aged 20. It would be a phenomenal feat if such a side could challenge for the Championship, let alone win it.

CC 2018 Som v Hants Day 1 Jimmy Adams Copyright Mike Williams
Craig Overton, one of seven players under the age of 27 in the Somerset side, makes a sharp stop off Jimmy Adams.
Photo courtesy Michael Williams

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