Hampshire v Somerset, County Championship Division 1, Southampton, September 16thto 19thDay 2 –Hampshire 196 All Out (Dawson 103, Gregory 3-63, Abell 2-25, Davey 2-34, C Overton 2-46) and 226 (Vince 142 Davey 3-22) beat Somerset 142 (Abbott 9-40) and 144 (Abbott 8-46) by 136 runs
As I write this an hour after the end of the game at Southampton Essex are closing in on a victory at Chelmsford that will move them 12 points ahead of Somerset at the top of Division one. But do you know what I am actually feeling quite positive.
Call it blind optimism, even stupidity but I still believe Somerset can win the County Championship. I know the weather forecast is not encouraging, I know Somerset’s batting has yet again collapsed in a heap this afternoon, I know that Essex are a formidable side. There is no rational, logical reason for my belief, I fully accept that.
But I am not as down as I thought I’d be after that result. And I should be after Somerset’s second innings collapse losing 7-14 in a ball under 10 overs.
I should be downhearted because Somerset’s second innings had started encouragingly, albeit in pursuit of a distant target, they reached lunch on 62-0 with both openers looking in calm control and the pitch demonstrating none of the demons of the first two days.
Sides chasing such a tough target break the objectives down into smaller pieces. I was doing the same to try to manage my anxiety. Having achieved the first objective of reaching lunch unscathed the next target was to get the requirement under 200 and then pass the 100. If Somerset had been able to reach 100-0 the pressure would at least partially shift onto Hampshire, especially as the dangerous first 25 overs had almost been safely negotiated.
Kyle Abbott, the first innings destroyer was at the end of his second spell and prospects were significantly brighter than they were last evening.
But then Abbott induced a misjudged pull from Vijay and the opening stand was ended at 86. The next five batsmen managed 4 runs between them and when Steven Davies also departed for 51 all chances were gone.
Lewis Gregory provided some resistance with an unbeaten 34 but it was a vain hope.
Somerset managed only 2 runs more in their second innings than their first while James Vince alone made 142 on his own in Hampshire’s second innings.
Cricket has a habit of doing this to you raising your hopes then dashing them. Somerset cricket doubly so. It is asking a lot for Tom Abell and his side to bounce back from this but, despite the batting frailties this is a very good Somerset side. One that is more than capable of handing Essex a beating at Taunton next week.
Listening to the end of the Essex v Surrey game there is definitely an air of expectation from the Essex commentators that they have as good as clinched the title. We all, players, staff and supporters need to give our all next week to change their perceptions at Taunton.
Bring it on!