Back on Top

12th September 2019

County Championship Division 1, Taunton, September 10th to 13th Day 3 Somerset 199 (Abell 66, Jamie Overton 40*, Maharaj 5-54) and 329 (Abell 62, Hildreth 58, Bartlett 47, Banton 43, Maharaj 5-122) beat Yorkshire 103 (Ballance 35, van der Merwe 3-14, Davey 3-30, Gregory 2-36) and 127 (Davey 5-21) by 298 runs.

If you wanted to select one ball of the season to encapsulate what Tom Abell and this Somerset team are all about I have a suggestion. With Yorkshire’s last pair at the crease a leg stump delivery from Roleof van der Merwe was clipped just in front of square leg toward the Somerset stand. The skipper fielding at straight mid-wicket set off in pursuit. As the ball was just about to cross the rope Abell launched himself into a full dive and flicked the ball back an inch from the boundary in front of the Somerset stand. Dom Bess, who had chased after his skipper was thee to. Catch the flicked ball. And return to the keeper, saving one run.

This was when Somerset had a lead of over 300 and, to emphasise, with one wicket standing. What a captain, what an example.

Somerset completed victory in the next over, Dom Bess, who had earlier run out Tim Bresnan to begin a collapse from 94-4, held onto a swirling skier over backward point, running back and judging a difficult catch very well. Josh Davey who had taken the crucial first wicket of Adam Lyth was the successful bowler for the final wicket to finish with a career best 5-21. With Craig Overton anticipated to return next week there is an interesting selection decision looming.

19 points. A ninth win. Revenge for the defeat at Leeds in July. And leadership of the championship with two games to go, unless something remarkable and contrived takes place in Birmingham tomorrow.

Somerset began the day in a way which suggested that they felt the overnight lead of 365 was plenty. Lewis Gregory departed bowled aiming a heave at Maharaj having added only 1 to his overnight total.

Dom Bess followed quickly by Roleof van der Merwe, all restless energy and bristling aggression reverse swept Maharaj to 30 off 29 balls two of those reverse sweeps carrying into the family stand.

George Bartlett was content to nudge along at the other end but then perished attempting to reach his 50 in grand style stumped by a couple of yards.

Jamie Overton’s method with the bat is delightfully simple and increasingly effective. The Yorkshire bowlers found that if they dared to pitch up he was prepared to deposit them into the Somerset Pavilion or the car park beyond. His 18 came off 14 balls before he was bowled by the Yorkshire captain aiming something similar. It is typical of Jamie who I doubt does anything by half that he lost middle and off stumps.

Jamie Overton – no half measures!

Yorkshire required 426 to win.

There first objective was to get through to lunch unscathed. A task made harder by regular opener Will Fraine’s injury meaning he could not bat before 7 in the second innings. But it was Adam Lyth who was first to go caught superbly by Jamie Overton at third slip diving low and in front of second slip.

Jamie Overton takes a superb low catch to remove Adam Lyth

Overton then made the crucial breakthrough in the last over before lunch removing Garry Ballance. Yet again Yorkshire’s premier batsman was undone by Overton’s extra pace an bounce a dismissal which evidences why he has not been able to succeed at test level.

Squared Up – Gary Ballance is caught behind off Jamie Overton before lunch

Overton resumed after lunch and removed makeshift opener Tattersall caught by James Hildreth at first slip. This was another of those Jamie Overton spells like the one at Edgbaston on Day 3 which few are capable of in terms of pace and hostility.

Roleof van der Merwe had embarked on a spell which would last the whole of the sessions and was extracting significant lift and turn. He bowled Harry Brook early in the spell but that was his only wicket. His contribution was far greater than his 1-45 suggests and he can be praised no more highly than to say Jack Leach was not missed on this occasion.

Lewis Gregory followed Overton at the Somerset Pavilion end and beat the bat regularly without reward. He will benefit in the coming weeks for this post-injury run out. But it was Josh Davey who wrapped things up. Once Bess had effected his run out, a brilliant pick up and throw from backward point Davey removed Kohler-Cadmore and Maharaj in the 36th over, took a simple caught and bowled off the clearly impaired Fraine before the final wicket of Olivier.

Tom Abell and Dom Bess celebrate Dom’s clinching catch

Somerset have moved back to the top of Division one with this win. A neat symmetry as it was the defeat at Leeds that allowed Essex to move top. Any thoughts Yorkshire’s players and coaches may have expressed after that game with regard to Somerset’s credentials will have been corrected by the dominant way Somerset won this game.

With Hampshire’s win and Yorkshire’s defeat the gap between third and fourth is now just 5 points. At the top Somerset’s lead is likely to be 10 points by tomorrow evening. Still plenty to be done and a tough visit to Southampton next week but for now let’s just glory in this win and the move back to top.

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