And Breathe

3rd September 2018

No cricket today, apart from England and India in the fourth test, but that’s not occupying much of my time and thoughts at the moment. Somerset are. And how all-consuming, in a very good way, being a Somerset Supporter is. But today is Sunday, time for some down-time and reflection before next week’s action.

There are four more rounds of championship cricket to go, that’s over a quarter of the season and as we stand at present Surrey remain strong favourites with a 32 point lead while the same margin covers the remaining 6 teams. 

The last two games have, for Somerset supporters, been an emotional roller coaster with strong positions evaporating, fight-backs staged and ultimately victories achieved. And in between those two pulsating championship victories was the small matter of a T20 Blast quarter-final triumph over Notts that was in doubt until the last couple of overs.

I am sure some of the players are feeling emotionally drained but for them the adrenaline of victory will be sustaining them as well as the crucial knowledge that they have a role to play in the club’s destiny in this most wonderful of seasons. We the poor, tortured supporters do not.

Of course we are much better able to follow our team in this modern internet age than we ever have been before. The change really began when the BBC agreed to cover ball-by-ball every county game. This change has been accelerated by the advent of live-streaming but it is the county commentaries that have become the bedrock for those of us who cannot get to the games as often as we would like.

The last week has made me realise even more that we Somerset supporters are truly blessed by the quality of our coverage. In the wonderfully capable and evocative hands (and voices) of Anthony Gibson and Stephen Lamb we have two commentators who not only understand and can describe the game as it unfolds but who also understand what it is to be a Somerset supporter.

This time last week I was able to listen to the entirety of the T20 game from a suitably biased BBC Somerset commentary. The fluctuating fortunes of that form of the game were encapsulated in the description Anthony and Stephen provided. The fact that you could tell at an instant the state of the game from Somerset’s point of view from the tone of their commentary says something.

Then, when Somerset’s 4-day game started at Leeds, Anthony was joined by three “neutral” commentators. Not only was this a less easy listen but the absence of a Yorkshire representative highlighted the beauty of the way the BBC commentary usually works. Normally it is like sitting with two friends, supporting opposite sides, who have met up to watch the game. Not, as seemed to me, the three other voices auditioning for TMS.

Anthony, of course, was his usual consummate professional self, while unabashedly showing his Somerset allegiances. But I longed for the much-missed tones of Dave Callaghan, his insight into Yorkshire’s players and his views on their current position in division one to counterpoint “our Anthony”.

This week, with the visit of Lancashire, I hope Anthony and/or Stephen will be joined by Scott Read. One of the many voices of other counties that I’ve come to treat as “cricket friends”.

That’s it, I’ve had enough rest. I need my daily fix of Dave Bracegirdle, Martin Emerson or Scott Read alongside Anthony and Stephen.

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