“Yorkshire are already one down”

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Yorkshire. 10th, 11th and 12th September 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 199 and 269 for 5. Yorkshire 103. Somerset lead by 365 runs with five first innings wickets standing.

Final day – “Yorkshire are already one down”

“Yorkshire are already one down. 8 for 1,” said the urgent voice from over my shoulder. The comment came from someone who I overtook as I scurried along St James Street, perennially late for the cricket. It’s the hat. Whenever there is a crucial score to be reported or sought the maroon wyvern on the front of my white broad-rimmed sunhat attracts Somerset supporters the country over. The confirmation of that score came from a snatched glance over the perimeter wall as I approached the J.C. White gates. It takes about 30 seconds to get from there to the boundary but the need of the supporter to know the score on days such as this cannot wait 30 seconds. 30 seconds is an eternity. There is the quandary too. You don’t want to miss a wicket so when you look over the wall you hope for 8 for 1. Then you reprimand yourself and hope for 8 for 2 and 8 for 1 becomes a disappointment. What it is to be a Somerset supporter at times such as this.Read More »

When the head rules the cricket

County Championship Division 1. Warwickshire v Somerset. 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st August 2019. Edgbaston.

Overnight. Somerset 199. Yorkshire 70 for 3. Yorkshire trail Somerset by 129 runs with seven first innings wicket standing.

Second day – When the head rules the cricket

I once had the good fortune to sit next to an ex-Somerset cricketer at a Club dinner. I asked him, once a first-class batsman is in the middle, how much of what happens is down to technique and how much is down to what is going on in his head. “90 per cent in the head,” was his instant reply. Now, obviously it isn’t as simple as that. Without the requisite level of skill, the head would count for nothing. But first-class cricketers, batsmen and bowlers, particularly first division ones, must all have reached a certain skill level to be playing at all at that level and, the really top-flight ones apart, it is what happens in the head that makes much of the difference between their performances on a given day or in a given season. At least that is the theory.Read More »

Ebb and flow

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Yorkshire. 10th, 11th,12th and 13th September 2019. 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, R.E. van der Merwe, J. Overton, J.H. Davey.

Yorkshire. A. Lyth. W.A.R. Fraine, G.S. Ballance, T. Kohler-Cadmore, S.A. Patterson, H.C. Brook, J.A. Tattersall (w), T.T. Bresnan, K.A. Maharaj, B.O. Coad, D. Oliver.

Toss. Uncontested. Somerset required to bat.

First day. 10th September – Ebb and flow

Feet up, head back, dozing in the breeze as tufty white clouds float across a warm azure sky. A warm sun, not too hot, plays on the back of the neck and cricketers play lazily on the green. The quintessential English vision of tranquillity. Nerves at rest. The watcher at one with the world. Heaven on earth or as near as it ever comes. The ageless, idyllic view of cricket. But not at Taunton. Not on this day. That age-old view of cricket is not what the County Championship is about, and the County Championship is all that this day was about. And in consequence the day was all about tension and relief, anxiety and elation, desperation and hope, highs and lows, clenching of teeth and clapping of hands, missed heartbeats and racing hearts. Of cut and thrust, of ebb and flow; and any concoction of emotion which can be conjured from that list of ingredients of a day watching Somerset play cricket when the County Championship might be on the line. And no doubt Yorkshire hearts suffer too, and swell, when a Championship beckons as, if Somerset and Essex falter badly enough, it might again this year.Read More »

Descent into despond and the will to prevail

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th July 2019. Headingley.

Overnight. Yorkshire 520. Somerset 196 and 159 for 4. Somerset trail by 165 runs with six second innings standing.

Final day. 16th July – Descent into despond and the will to prevail.

As I made to leave the ground a Yorkshire member asked me how I rated Somerset’s chances of winning the Championship. “We will need some consistency from our top order,” my reply. “This puts Yorkshire in with a chance,” he said although with half a wry smile. Yorkshire are 34 points behind Somerset and 38 points behind Essex with each having four matches to play. “You will need some help from Essex and Somerset,” I suggested. And added, “I think it unlikely both will slip up to the extent you need.” He was rooting for Somerset, he said, if Yorkshire couldn’t do it. That has been an almost universal comment, with their own county inserted, from opposition supporters around the country over the last two years and in the great majority of cases it seems a genuine sentiment. Somerset’s eternal pursuit of the Championship has assumed almost mythical status among knowledgeable lifelong County Championship watchers.Read More »

Of friends and Somerset reviving

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th July 2019. Headingley.

Overnight. Yorkshire 520. Somerset 76 for 4. Somerset trail Yorkshire by 444 runs with six first innings wickets standing.

Third day. 15th July – Of friends and signs of Somerset reviving

My friend from the days of May and Trueman, Alley and Wight came to the cricket again. No problems with his bus this time. Apparently, it was as reliable as a Bill Alley over and he arrived for the start as perfectly as a Bill Alley delivery would have arrived on a length. My bus was a different matter. My habitual, report delayed departure, was further delayed as my bus waited obstinately at the stop for three minutes for the timetable to catch up with it. Three minutes is an age as interminable as thirty minutes in the dentist’s chair when Somerset are trying to save a game with the Championship potentially on the line. And the journey can take as long as having the nerve removed from your root canal if the bus decides to make acquaintance with every red traffic light in Leeds as well as pick up every member of the population it can find.Read More »

A numbing experience

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th July 2019. Headingley.

Overnight. Yorkshire 282 for 3.

Second day. 14th July – A numbing esperience

The disappointment was there to see in the face of every Somerset supporter I saw as I left the ground. It was more than the looks you see after the normal sort of ‘bad day at the office’ cricket. There was a deeper look, one almost of shock. No-one said a word, other than by the look they gave. And every last one gave the same look. For this day had the feeling not just of a heavy defeat pending but of the Championship on the turn. Not only had Somerset fallen far behind Yorkshire but Essex had forged well ahead of a Warwickshire side with batting weakened by England Lions calls and which will have to face the spin of Harmer in the fourth innings. If Somerset lose, which is where the neutral money will be, and Essex win, which they have in every other match this season at Chelmsford Somerset will fall into second place in the table for the first time since the first match of the season. Essex have had the wind in their sails since they beat Somerset at Chelmsford and Somerset have steered themselves into the choppiest of waters in this match since they set the wrong course when they did not contest the toss.Read More »

A day of ennui and oak trees

County Championship Division 1. Yorkshire v Somerset. 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th July 2019. Headingley.

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

Yorkshire. A. Lyth. W.A.R. Fraine, G.S. Balance, T. Kohler-Cadmore,, J. Shaw, H.C. Brook, J.A. Tattersal (w), M.D. Fisher, K.A. Maharaj, S.A. Patterson (c), D. Olivier. 

Jack Leach and Lewis Gregory were not available for selection for this match having been selected to play for the England Lions at Canterbury.

Toss. Uncontested. Yorkshire required to bat.

First day. 13th July – A day of ennui and oak trees

At the Oval, if you sit in the Peter May Stand, the aircraft slide in over your left shoulder and cross the pitch in a line from long on to backward point as they find their way to Heathrow. At Headingley, if you sit in the Fred Trueman Enclosure, they come towards you over second slip and long-on, as they descend towards Leeds-Bradford Airport. I imagine they would have kept to the same course had Trueman bowled to May here more than 60 years ago now although the airport would have been known as Yeadon in those days. Had they played on the pitch used for this match I imagine May would have blessed the day and Trueman would have had words of another variety. From my seat in the Trueman enclosure, beyond a straight long-on, and directly under the approaching aircraft the ball seemed to be going through on a line as straight as the flightpath which the aircraft followed and with bounce as even as their smooth computer-directed descent.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 »

Disciplined, determined, dominant.

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Yorkshire. 28th, 29th and 30th April 2018. Taunton. Final Day.

Somerset had worked themselves into a powerful position over the first two days of this match and the weather forecast for the final day had cleared. Even so Yorkshire had fought hard to keep themselves in with a chance with a solid performance in bitter conditions on the second evening.

Overnight: Somerset 216 and 200. Yorkshire 96 and 49 for 1. Yorkshire need 272 more runs to win with 9 second innings wickets standing.

If this match could be summed up in a millisecond Tim Groenewald’s catch to dismiss Jack Brooks on the last afternoon would serve perfectly.Read More »

Somerset’s Arctic expedition

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Yorkshire. 28th, 29th and 30th April 2018. Taunton. Third Day.

Somerset started the day in a strong position. However with rain in the forecast, a seam friendly pitch perhaps liable to ease, Yorkshire having last use of it and the first day having been lost to rain the team would have to retain is focus if victory was to be achieved.

Overnight: Somerset 216 and 6 for 0. Yorkshire 96. Somerset lead by 126 runs with 10 second innings wickets standing.

There was a chill wind at the Cooper Associates County Ground today that put yesterday’s depredations in the shade. It was so cold in the breeze that if the only habitat of the arctic tern were the top of the Somerset Pavilion the species would now be extinct. It wasn’t the wind that blew the stumps over though. It was the bowling.Read More »

A century for lunch

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Yorkshire. 28th, 29th and 30th April 2018. Taunton. Second Day.

This match was due to start on 27th April but the entire first day was lost to rain. Somerset came into this, their second match, having won their first match of the season against Worcestershire. They were looking to consolidate their good start to the season after half a decade of poor starts.

Toss uncontested. Somerset required to bat.

As I conducted my customary circumnavigation of the ground in the Lunch interval someone said to me, “You are going to have to find some new words to describe that.” He meant Matthew Renshaw’s innings of course. Had we met at the end of the day he might have said the same about the whole day’s cricket, Somerset’s performance in particular.Read More »