End of Season Blues

September for once has failed to deliver for Somerset and the weather has been equally as cheerless. My final day of “live” cricket this season was very much in character with the month so far. Damp, dark and windy but at least Somerset showed some much-needed fight.

Taunton in September was always (or at least my boyhood memories are) a lovely month. Back in those days the cricket season ended at about the time we went back to school in the first week of September and you could pretty much guarantee the weather would be glorious for three or four weeks.

The one consoling factor is that the poor weather hasn’t influenced the destination of the title. But there is no doubt that, having lost the toss, Somerset have had the worst of the weather in this game. Speaking to the BBC commentators at lunchtime they felt that Surrey had scored well over par in theirs first innings and Somerset well under par in theirs. I don’t think this was entirely due to the pitch but more the effect the overhead conditions had on the surface.

The general view was that the Somerset bowlers had performed well. Certainly on the second morning, when overhead conditions were at their best, Surrey did not find it easy to score runs. But, shortly after lunch, when the clouds rolled in the conditions for batting deteriorated significantly especially with a new ball in the hands of Morkel et al.

The batting on the third morning was encouraging at first. Both Jack Leach and Josh Davey played and missed a fair bit but they didn’t look in any trouble and it was a surprise when Davey played too soon and was caught at cover point. The pair had looked odds-on to see out the truncated pre-lunch session.

But the new ball did the damage again and Somerset were quickly reduced to 4-2 and were in danger of another rapid capitulation. That was until Azhar Ali and James Hildreth steadied the ship for the best part of two hours adding just under a hundred before bad light brought an early tea. 

And that was my queue to leave the CACG for this season and make the long, windy and very wet journey back up north. It is never nice leaving the County Ground, never nice leaving my home town behind and this was no exception.

Since the second afternoon of the Lancashire gamer all Somerset fans could be forgiven for having a bad dose of end of season blues. Would things have turned out differently against Hampshire if we could have managed that one run out of the last two wickets on the afternoon of the 5th? I’m inclined to say it would not just because confidence evaporated in the space of one session but also because, having kept Surrey within striking distance by matching them win for win in this last batch of championship games the accrued mental effort proved too much.

So, although there is one round of championship games left, that is it for Taunton and for the large majority of Somerset faithful. I always find it poignant when you hear “cricketing friends” (those people who only know each other through the time they spend together sitting in the same seats at the county ground) saying goodbye for the year and looking forward to seeing each other in April.

And, for all of us Somerset faithful this year, despite the obvious progress on the field, it is another year where that elusive title is one place away. One more winter of might-have-beens. 

As I walked back to my car I began to ponder next season. Who will be retained? Who will we sign? Will Azhar and/or Matt Renshaw return? What will the batting order look like for the championship opener. And perhaps, most importantly, when will we all, players, officials, supporters get the winter recharge of energy and enthusiasm to go again. 

No wonder I’m feeling blue!