An Unexpected Turn of Events – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – The Oval – 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July – Final Day

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Somerset 429. Surrey 239 for 8. Surrey trail by 190 runs with two first innings standing.

Final day 14th July – An unexpected turn of events

The unpredictability of cricket never ceases to surprise. At the start of the final morning, Surrey added one run while Somerset took the final two Surrey wickets. Van der Merwe and Leach ended with four and six wickets respectively. Moriarty was trapped leg before wicket by van der Merwe and Virdi by Jack Leach. Nothing out of the ordinary thus far, although Somerset supporters would have been pleased, and Surrey ones disappointed at the speed with which the final two wickets fell. The players left the field to applause from the small, well spread-out crowd. Expectant applause from Somerset supporters, more anxious from Surrey ones. The prospect of a tense Surrey rearguard was on everyone’s minds as they faced a deficit of 189 runs on a pitch now enabling the spinners to ask serious questions. 

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A Battle of Attrition – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July – The Oval – Third Day

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Somerset 429. Surrey 24 for 0. Surrey trail by 405 runs with all first innings wickets standing.

Third day 13th July – A battle of attrition

This was a day for which Jack Leach must have yearned over the previous two months. At the start of the match he had not bowled a red ball in anger since 9th May. The interim consisted of time in the England coronavirus protective bubble without playing, a batch of Vitality Blast T20 matches of which he played one, and a period in precautionary isolation during which he was restricted to practicing with a tennis ball in his garden. Such was the preparation which brought him into this match. He ended the third day with figures of 33-19-42-5. It was an exceptional effort and put the icing on the cake of Somerset’s qualification for the first division of the second phase of the 2021 County Championship, an eight-point pitch regulations penalty from 2019 being swept away in the process. 

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A Day of Changing Moods and Rhythms – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July – The Oval – Second Day

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Overnight. Somerset 280 for 6.

Second day 12th July – A day of changing moods and rhythms

Somerset further strengthened their grip on qualification for the first division of the second phase of the 2021 County Championship when Roelof van der Merwe pushed Ravi Ashwin straight of mid-on for a single to gather Somerset’s third batting point. It came in the 108th over of the innings and so left them needing two bowling points to be mathematically certain. When Hampshire ended the day still 130 runs short of five batting points with only five wickets and 16 of the first 110 overs remaining it seemed unlikely Somerset would need more than one bowling point. Set against that, there had been news on the first day that Kent had had to replace their entire team because of COVID issues. On the second day, the Derbyshire v Essex match was abandoned due to the Derbyshire team being withdrawn from the match for the same reason. That, and fast-rising numbers of COVID infections nationally, caused some to ask if the second phase of the Championship might be similarly affected.

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Hildreth Shapes the Day – Surrey v Somerset – County Championship 2021 – The Oval – 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th July – First Day

This match was played with socially-distanced allocated seating due to the coronavirus regulations.

County Championship Group 2. Surrey v Somerset. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th July 2021. The Oval.

Surrey. R.J. Burns (c), M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, J.L. Smith (w), R.S. Patel, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, R. Ashwin, D.T. Moriarty, G.S. Virdi.

Somerset. D.P. Conway, S.M. Davies (w), T.A. Lammonby, J.C. Hildreth (c), L.P. Goldsworthy, G.A. Bartlett, R.E. van der Merwe, B.G.F. Green, M. de Lange, J.A. Brooks. M.J. Leach.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day 11th July – Hildreth shapes the day

Sitting high in the Peter May Stand square of the wicket was a joy to gladden the heart even with the wicket pitched nearly a hundred yards away with a grey if unthreatening overcast sky and a crowd spread far and wide by social distancing. The great gasometer, empty and unused these days, stood as a silent monument to generations of cricketers past. It had already stood in its present form for 34 years when in 1926 Somerset’s Jack White, coming on to bowl the eighth over of the Surrey first innings, took 7 for 42 in three balls over 36 overs with his orthodox slow left arm bowling. Only Jack Hobbs, with 70 out of a Surrey total of 136, stood out against him.

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“For the rain it raineth every day” – Somerset v Surrey – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 3

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Surrey. 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th May 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, E.J. Byrom, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, L.P. Goldsworthy, T. Banton (w), L. Gregory, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M. de Lange.

Surrey. R.J. Burns, M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, O.J.D. Pope, B.T. Foakes, J.L. Smith, W.G. Jacks, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, K.A.J. Roach.

Overnight. Surrey 191 for 4.

Third day 15th May – “For the rain it raineth every day”

“For the rain it raineth every day,” or so Feste’s song ends Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Those words may well serve as an epitaph for this match barring some miraculous change in the forecast for the final day. Even if the heavens were to relent it would take a miracle of outlandish proportions, which even Shakespeare might have blanched at employing as a plot device, for Surrey to win this match, and even in the realms of fantasy Somerset’s horizons are now limited to bonus points and a draw.

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Advantage Surrey – Somerset v Surrey – County Championship 2021 – Taunton – Day 2

This match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This report was therefore written following a day watching Somerset CCC’s live stream of the match, without which this report would not have been possible. The stream was watched with the commentary muted and with notes being taken to enable the author to replicate as far as possible his experience of watching matches live.

County Championship Group 2. Somerset v Surrey. 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th May 2021. Taunton.

Somerset. T.A. Lammonby, E.J. Byrom, T.B. Abell (c), J.C. Hildreth, G.A. Bartlett, L.P. Goldsworthy, T. Banton (w), L. Gregory, R.E. van der Merwe, J.H. Davey, M. de Lange.

Surrey. R.J. Burns, M.D. Stoneman, H.M. Amla, O.J.D. Pope, B.T. Foakes, J.L. Smith, W.G. Jacks, J. Clark, J. Overton, R. Clarke, K.A.J. Roach.

Overnight. No play. Rain.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

Second day 14th May – Advantage Surrey

Eighty-six millimetres of rain fell at Dunkeswell in the Blackdowns during the evening before this match was due to start and through the night and most of the first day. When play was abandoned just after lunch on the first day, pools, including large ones in front of the Colin Atkinson Pavilion, deep enough to provide clear reflections, had formed. Despite a huge amount of work from the ground staff, visible on the Somerset CCC live stream during the morning, play could not begin until two o’clock on the second day. As the match started, another 40 mm or so of rain was forecast to fall over its remainder. It was not a surprise therefore that when Somerset won the toss they elected to field.

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Of Finch and spin

T20. Surrey v Somerset. 27th August 2019. The Oval.

Surrey. A.J. Finch, M.D. Stoneman, S.M. Curran, O.J. Pope, W.G. Jacks, J. Clark, B.T. Foakes (w), R.S. Patel, J.W. Dernbach, G.J. Batty, Imran Tahir. 

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. 

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

Of Finch and spin

I always approach the Oval with foreboding for a T20 match although not for the Championship or 50 over cricket. In fact, after Taunton, the Peter May Stand is, alongside the Hollies Stand at Edgbaston, one of my two favourite places to watch Championship cricket. It’s just T20 at the Oval. For Somerset always seem to lose there. I am sure Somerset must have won a T20 match at the Oval but I don’t recall it happening when I have been there. Aaron Finch was playing in this match too and he has T20 ‘form’ against Somerset. That I have seen. Two years ago at the Oval, Somerset lost by four runs. Finch made 61. Somerset sank to 106 for 8 chasing 181 with five and a half overs to go. Then Corey Anderson launched one of the most astonishing T20 batting assaults I have ever seen. Anderson, batting at seven because he had been off the field with an injury, reached 80 from 44 balls to leave Somerset needing eight to win from four. The left-handed Anderson drove to long on in front of the OCS Stand and raced back towards the Pavilion End aiming for a second run in an attempt to keep the strike. Finch fielded and in a brilliant combination of a cool head and an outstanding piece of cricket threw unerringly to the keeper. Anderson was run out and Surrey won by four runs. More of Finch later. Read More »

The three ‘B’s and the men from Truro

T20. Somerset v Surrey. 2nd August 2019. Taunton.

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

Surrey. W.G. Jacks, A.J. Finch (c), S.M. Curran, O.J. Pope, T.K. Curran, J. Clark, B.T. Foakes (w), J.L. Smith, R. Clarke, G.J. Batty, Imran Tahir. 

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

Cricket on fire – The three ‘B’s and the men from Truro

As Eddie Byrom walked out to bat I was looking down at my scorecard to see from where, in the absence of Gregory, Somerset’s final explosive charge might come. I was looking in the wrong place. There is a feeling that Somerset have missed Corey Anderson’s soaring sixes this year. They may be missed no more. Byrom, on T20 debut, was a revelation of Damascene proportions. The barnacle-like opening batsman of 2018 had been transformed into an incandescent purveyor of batting pyrotechnics. In future when he comes to the wicket T20 bowlers might do well to heed the age-old warning: ‘light blue touch paper and retire’.Read More »

Somerset’s tectonic shift

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Final day. 6th June – Somerset’s tectonic shift

Overnight. Somerset 344 and 153. Surrey 231 and 99 for 2. Surrey need a further 156 runs to win with eight wickets standing.

What a difference a year makes! In one sense the fourth morning of this match was very similar to the third morning at Guildford in 2018. A bowling performance of such intensity that the batting just melted away before it. Except in 2019 it was Somerset who were doing the bowling and Surrey the melting away. After the 2018 match several travelling Somerset supporters found ourselves in a group behind the Pavilion and concluded we had seen the 2018 County Champions and they were not Somerset. Another group, some from last year and some others found ourselves together after this match on the Woodbridge Road boundary. None dared predict anything but all agreed something very special had happened during the morning and that this Somerset team has something very special. Read More »

Morkel and Dunn grab the momentum

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Third day. 5th June – Morkel and Dunn grab the momentum

Overnight. Somerset 344. Surrey 188 for 5. Surrey trail by 156 with five second innings wickets standing.

I wondered if the most important thing I saw all day was an aeroplane. I was meandering around the ground during the tea interval and heard the sound of jet engines rather as you do over the Oval. I had heard the occasional sound of jet engines low over the ground throughout this match but it was the first time I had seen the aircraft. What struck me was how just how high the cloud had risen above it, and how low the cloud must have been, a few hot sunny intervals on the first day apart, during this match thus far when the engines roared but the aircraft which they powered were beyond sight.

It is surprising how often ‘poor’ batting is accompanied by low cloud and good pace bowling. There may, or may not, be a causal connection. That is something that scientists and cricketers may differ on but there is certainly a connection of some sort in my experience. Whether because of the laws of physics or the psychological response of players to varying overhead conditions or something else is beyond my knowing but it is there. It has certainly been the case in this match and more times than enough in my cricket-watching career. As the spectator I spoke to during the last session said to me as Burns and Borthwick were bringing Surrey up on Somerset’s heels, “The cloud has gone up.” And by the end of the day a watery sun was brightening the ground even further.Read More »

Overton returns

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Second day. 4th June – Overton returns

Overnight. Somerset 344. Surrey 0-0. Surrey trail by 344 runs with ten first innings wickets standing.

There are homecomings and there are homecomings. This was one to be treasured in the video archives of the memory bank. A fast bowler running in from the Pavilion End at Guildford under skies that would have done service to the opening scenes of a biblical epic. He looked for all the world a fast bowler. The long, easy, flowing run to the wicket. The flash of the arm as it came over the head. The torso twisting to the horizontal as it imparted energy to the ball. The ball spearing in towards the batsman’s pads. The flash of the bat as it tried to intercept the missile. The thud of ball on pads. The swivel of the body, arms aloft in expectation rather than hope. The roar and certainty of the appeal. The inevitability of the raising of the finger. The bowler running off from his follow-through pursued by a gaggle of fielders in celebration. The return of Jamie Overton.Read More »

Bartlett’s day

County Championship Division 1. Surrey v Somerset. 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th June. Guildford.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to bat.

First day. 3rd June – Bartlett’s day

In 2018 Somerset came to Guildford on top of the Championship. In three traumatic days they were unceremoniously despatched by an innings. Abell had won the toss and, inexplicably to most Somerset supporters, asked Surrey to bat. Surrey had made 459 and bowled Somerset out for 180 and 210. Surrey moved to the top of the table, never looked back and Somerset never looked like catching them. In 2019 Abell won the toss again and this time opted to bat in circumstances for batting that were less propitious than they had been in 2018.Read More »

The weather rules the day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Final day. 18th May – The weather rules the day

Overnight. Surrey 380 and 152 for 5. Somerset 398. Surrey lead by 134 runs with five second innings wickets standing.

A final day which had much in prospect, not least that all four possible results were still very much in play, subsided into one of those frustrating weather-interrupted days where the cricket becomes meaningless in the context of the match and where the weather and conditions, as seen from beyond the boundary at least, seem marginal enough for virtually every decision of the umpires to be the subject of dispute and exasperation among spectators. Even the intervention of Somerset’s brand-new floodlights could not save the day, brightly though they shone. It was too one of those days in which the weather does not help the mood. Mizzle and drizzle rather than straightforward honest rain for the most part and at times Dickensian light to dampen the spirit.Read More »

Gregory shapes the day

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Third day. 16th April – Gregory shapes the day

Overnight. Surrey 380. Somerset 243 for 5. Surrey lead by 137 runs with five second innings wickets standing.

After two days spent fighting to stay in this match Somerset made this their day and are now, at worst, at parity. On the last day much will depend, as it did on the third day, on the first session. Surrey’s have five wickets remaining, four if Elgar, absent through illness on the third day, cannot bat. If they can stretch their innings much beyond lunch Somerset may be faced with a difficult equation and will need to get through Morkel’s new ball spell, and Morkel has a record for Surrey of performing at the crunch, whatever the equation. It would be a good time for Trescothick to find some form after his four successive low scores in this season’s Championship.

At the heart of Somerset’s performance was an outstanding century from Gregory, his second in first-class cricket following his 137 at Lord’s in 2017. He came to the wicket on the second evening with Somerset five wickets down and still 169 runs adrift. He was still undefeated on 129 mid way through the third afternoon when Somerset ended their innings 18 runs ahead. It was a tremendous performance which had the crowd cheering and, as he ran through for the single to bring up his hundred, on their feet applauding.Read More »

The artists keep Somerset in the game – just

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Second day. 15th April – The artists keep Somerset in the game – just

Overnight. Surrey 330 for 6.

Somerset ended the second day more or less where they ended the first. Just behind Surrey. Anxiety still remains for Somerset supporters for Surrey have their runs on the board. However, Somerset are still in the game. Buy the end of the second day in last year’s two Championship encounters with Surrey, by the end of the second day, they were well and truly out of it.

Unable to be at the start I followed the first half an hour or so from home by when Surrey had taken their overnight score forward by ten runs without losing any more wickets. I spent a rather anxious journey to the ground wondering just how high Clarke and the Surrey lower order might take the Surrey total. Anxiety used to be ended, or increased, when the old scoreboard hove into view as you approached the Brian Rose Gates. The new scoreboard by the Colin Atkinson Pavilion is hidden from view by the Somerset Stand as you approach the gates and the anxiety is prolonged until you get into the ground. Today the kindly steward who scanned my membership card compensated for the loss of the view by saying, “Not too bad. Nine down.”Read More »

White clothing and red ball

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Surrey. 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th May 2019. Taunton. 

Toss. Surrey. Elected to bat.

First day. 14th April – White clothing and red ball

It was a curious sight that greeted me as I stood chatting on Legends Square. 13 men in white and two in white coats. Rather like a hospital ward walking onto the field. At least that was the thought that jumped into my head after a whirlwind three weeks criss-crossing the southern half of the country and the Midlands as I tried to keep up with Somerset’s 50 over campaign. I had become inured to technicolour cricket. Coloured clothing and a white ball. Now we had white clothing and a coloured ball. As if that was not enough my brain had struggled to keep up with the high-speed, almost daily, cricket watching, ping-pong travel, overnight stays and late-night writing of match reports. I can, without a hint of exaggeration, say that at one match I had to ask someone which day of the week it was. And now my brain was struggling to accommodate cricket being played in whites. Oh, what a mad cricketing world we live in. At least for those of us who remember when Championship matches started every Wednesday and Saturday and one-day matches were played every Sunday and, for cup matches, on a Wednesday in place of the Championship. There could be as long as 28 days between a quarter-final and a semi-final. This year there were not many more than 28 hours. All the old reference points have gone and the sudden reappearance of two of the few that are left, white clothing and a red ball, suddenly jarred on the mind.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 »

Somerset rampant

RLODC (50 overs) South Group. Somerset v Surrey. 18th May 2018. The Oval.

In 2018 Somerset made their best start to a County Championship season for a quarter of a century. This was the first match of the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.

Toss. Somerset. Elected to field.

My coach from Somerset carefully times its journey to ensure I miss the first 15 minutes of any match starting at eleven o’ clock at The Oval. I arrived at the ground in a slightly disoriented state after changing tube trains at Kennington. I had hopped on the next clearly indicated ‘southbound’ train only for an equally clear announcement to inform me the train was going northbound to Ealing Broadway and the next stop was Elephant and Castle. As the overs slipped by I jumped off at ‘Elephant and Castle’ with the intention of running to the southbound platform only to discover I was already on it and at Oval station. The next announcement said a normal service was running on all lines.

I took off for the sanctuary of The Oval only to find the authorities there had pitched in with a bit more disorientation. No bag search. A white ball match without a bag search. What is the world coming to? I really began to wonder when I reached the top of the steps into the Peter May Stand. The scoreboard said 13 for 3.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.

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