My head is all over the place at the moment. I am eating drinking and sleeping Somerset County Cricket Club! More specifically SCCC’s quest for our first ever County Championship. That campaign may be in its second hiatus of the season, this time for the first phase of the Vitality Blast but I cannot shift focus from red ball to white ball.
The last time we had a break from four-day cricket Somerset embarked on their ultimately successful One Day Cup competition. A triumph made all the more difficult for a mid-campaign slump which left them having to win their last group game and then two away knock out games, and tough ones at that, to reach the Lord’s final.
The Championship campaign has followed a similar trajectory. After a superb start which saw Somerset move to a strong position at the top of the table, defeats away from home to Essex and Yorkshire in the space of the last four games has seen Somerset slip to second place, four points behind Essex who have kept on winning.
Somerset still have their destiny in their own hands with both Yorkshire and Essex yet to visit Taunton in September but, as with the 50-over competition, they have made things a little harder for themselves.
The defeat at Yorkshire was chastening. Outplayed in every department over all four days. I hoped that the break for the Blast would be a good thing for all of us, irrespective of how that competition goes, but it hasn’t been that way for me in the last week.
I know it is early and the south group has yet to take shape so maybe I am being a bit premature but the thing is I can’t stop thinking about the Championship campaign. It is infiltrating every part of my life; work, eating, when I am at the gym or watching the TV. Whatever I do there is something that brings my conscious thought process back to Somerset and the Championship.
Why is this? From a personal perspective there is no doubt that the Championship is the thing above all others that I want us to win. For so many reasons; for Tres, for this wonderful group of largely home grown players, to win it for my Dad and all those who have gone before us in supporting Somerset County Cricket Club.
We all knew as Somerset fans that winning a Championship is not easy. We have had enough second-place finishes and agonising near misses to make that a certainty, and while there is clearly a groundswell of support among the wider cricket community for a first ever title for Tom Abell’s side, it does not extend to the good people of Essex or Yorkshire.
It is in Somerset’s DNA to make winning things hard. If we are to top the table come September it is going to be a fight to the last. Part of me wants that to happen, wants to be able to share the visceral experience that will be The County Ground for those last two home games. But wouldn’t it be nice to win the next two games with maximum points while Essex and Yorkshire pick up no points in heavy defeats. All done and dusted before the last couple of games.
We know that is not going to happen, wonderful as it would be to have a lap of honour when. Essex come to Taunton at the end of September.
But what is occupying my every thought is I suspect what is making this such an exciting championship season for the neutrals. Questions that swirl around in my head make for a potentially fantastic end to the season.
Will Essex continue their run of wins or will this break snap that momentum? Will Somerset bounce back again from the Headingley defeat as they did after Chelmsford. Will the fact that Essex only have one more home game be crucial? How ill international calls affect the contenders? Will the weather hold?
And many many more.
I’ve asked myself if I would be happy with not making finals day if it guaranteed Championship success and resoundingly answered yes. That is a measure of how much I want this.
So in an attempt to arrive at some inner peace I have forced all these thoughts to coalesce into a projected outcome. Despite the relative ease of their schedule I don’t see Yorkshire as being in contention, simply because they need, in addition to winning at least three of their remaining four games, both Somerset and Essex to slip up.
And I can’t believe that Essex will continue their run of wins. Something by the law of averages has to give. Surely?
So if those two statements are proved to be correct Somerset will need to win two and avoid defeat in the other two to top the table. Ideally this would mean we go into the last game of the season at Taunton needing to avoid defeat to clinch.
I am sure many can pick the logic apart and foresee pitfalls that I don’t. But at present it is working for me and giving me some inner peace!