The view from the ‘popular’ seats

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 7th, 8th and 9th July 2019. Taunton. 

Overnight. Somerset 326 and 7 for 1. Nottinghamshire 241. Somerset lead by 92 runs with eight second innings standing.

Final day. 9th July – The view from the ‘popular’ seats

For the second and third days of this match I sat in what, in childhood days spent watching Test match cricket on the BBC, would probably have been referred to as the ‘popular’ seats. Usually the largest bank of seats in the ground sold at the cheapest prices. At Taunton that is the Somerset Stand, at least by measure of size for at Championship matches it will cost you as much to sit there as anywhere else. Often, especially in the biting chill of April, it is a sparsely populated part of the ground. Now, in the warmth of the old Championship summer month of July and the glow of Somerset’s longest ever occupation of the top of the table the Somerset Stand is drawing people in ever larger numbers. Truly popular seats.Read More »

Vive la différence

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th July 2019. Taunton. 

Overnight. Somerset 326.

Second day. 8th July – Vive la différence

“How are you going to make that sound interesting?” I was asked. Asked at lunchtime. It wasn’t an unreasonable question. At the time. The most exciting adjective anyone could offer me about the morning’s play was ‘turgid’. 91 for 1 Nottinghamshire had scored in the morning session but it felt as if the grass, if that was what you had been watching, was growing ever more slowly as the morning went on. There was, I suspect, method in Nottinghamshire’s approach. With Ashwin in their side, on a pitch which was expected to take spin later in the game, time spent occupying the crease might serve their purpose. A first innings lead of any proportion could prove critical.Read More »

Somerset battle back

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th July 2019. Taunton. 

Somerset. T.B. Abell (c), Azhar Ali, J.C. Hildreth, T. Banton, G.A. Bartlett, S.M. Davies (w), L. Gregory, D.M. Bess, J. Overton, T.D. Groenewald, M.J. Leach.

Nottinghamshire. J.D. Libby, B.T. Slater, C.D. Nash, B.M. Duckett, S.J. Mullaney (c), R. Ashwin, T.J. Moores (w), L. Wood, L. Fletcher, L. A. Patterson-White, J.T. Ball.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 7th July – Somerset battle back

Backs to the wall, hold the line and then battle back into contention. That has more than once been the story of Somerset’s 2019 season. It was the story again on the first day of this match. Nottinghamshire, stiffened by the 65 Test matches worth of experience of Ravichandran Ashwin and their attack sharpened by the apparently infinite variations in his off spin bowling, tested Somerset in the first half of the day only for Steven Davies to lead a fightback more than ably supported by Dom Bess and Jamie Overton in the second half.Read More »

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 »

Leach unleashed

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 11th, 12th and13th April 2019. Trent Bridge.

Final day. 13th April – Leach unleashed

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 263 and 25 for 2. Somerset 403. Nottinghamshire trail by 115 runs with eight second innings wickets standing.

It was just after noon when I sent the text about the pitch based on the first hour of play. No wickets had fallen and the expectation of wickets felt on the evening before was no longer there. The only bowler who looked like he might take a wicket was Overton. The batsmen did not look in any real trouble although their scoring had been severely restrained by the accuracy and intensity of Somerset’s hard-running pace attack. My text suggested a long day in the field, the long Abell-Bartlett partnership still strong in the memory. It also suggested Broad might find something in the pitch with the unwritten thought that he might test Somerset if a target were too great. Such were the thoughts of an incessant Somerset worrier. The response to my text was instantaneous. “Leach”. Abell’s response was just as instantaneous. He put Leach on at the Pavilion End.Read More »

Abell and Bartlett turn the tide

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th April 2019. Trent Bridge.

Overnight. Nottinghamshire 263. Somerset 74 for 3. Somerset trail by 189 runs.

Second day. 12th April – Days don’t come much better than this

“Days don’t come much better than this,” said the text. And they don’t. Somerset entered the second day of this match barely clinging on to parity. They ended it in a position of dominance. The change was almost entirely due to the quiet determination, skill and patience of Somerset’s captain, the 25-year-old Tom Abell, and 21-year-old George Bartlett. They carried on with the bat where they had left off the previous evening; with quiet, controlled, purposeful accumulation.Read More »

Momentum to Nottinghamshire

County Championship Division 1. Nottinghamshire v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th April 2019. Trent Bridge.

First day. 11th April – Momentum to Nottinghamshire

“Notts are in the ascendancy,” was the comment made by a fellow Somerset supporter as I made to leave the ground. And that is how it felt. Not just from the score but from the manner of its making. Nottinghamshire had made their 268 all out at all but four an over. Somerset’s 74 for 3 in response had been made at well under three. The Nottinghamshire batsmen attacked the bowling throughout their innings irrespective of the fall of wickets. It was rather reminiscent of Somerset’s approach in the first innings against Kent. In this match Somerset made a much more circumspect start. Nottinghamshire’s third wicket fell at 51 in the 11th over. Somerset’s at 36 in the 15th. Momentum is said to be important in shaping cricket matches. At the end of the first day Nottinghamshire have it in this one.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 »

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 »

In pursuit of the dream

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

Nottinghamshire fought throughout the third day to stay in the game. Somerset still appeared to hold the advantage but a much closer affair was in prospect than had seemed likely at the end of Nottinghamshire’s first innings.

Overnight: Somerset 392. Nottinghamshire 134 and 468 for 8. Nottinghamshire lead by 210 runs with 2 second innings wickets standing.

It was Steven Davies who finally got me off the edge of my seat and sitting more comfortably in it. At some point in the match every one of the Somerset players made a contribution which made a difference. But it was Davies who, brilliantly, virtually instantaneously, turned the dreams of victory of the watching Somerset supporters from a prolonged, heavy, nerve wracking ‘if’ to the sudden light-headed relief of ‘when’.Read More »

Match on the turn

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. Third Day.

Somerset had taken a 258 run first innings lead on the second day and had enforced the follow on. Nottinghamshire had fought back and significantly reduced the deficit without losing a wicket.  

Overnight: Somerset 392. Nottinghamshire 134 and 112 for 0 (f/o). Nottinghamshire trail by 146 runs.

At the end of the first day of this match I wrote we were no nearer knowing who would win it than we were at the start. We are still no nearer. However, we do know there will be a result and that focuses the mind.Read More »

A force of nature

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. Second Day.

Somerset started the second day with what had appeared to be a good total taking into account the help the pitch had given the bowlers on the first day. 

Overnight: Somerset 307 for 7. 

With due acknowledgement to Benjamin Franklin there are three certainties in life. Death, taxes and the Taunton pitch going flat on the third day.Read More »

Battle for the top

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Nottinghamshire. 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June 2018. Taunton. First Day.

Nottinghamshire came to Taunton top of the Championship table with Somerset in second place. And so began another match crucial to Somerset’s Championship challenge.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

It was a day of cricket you would happily travel a hundred miles to see. I know because the person I watched the day with had done precisely that. ‘Fascinating’ he called it.Read More »