That Escalated Quickly

A slightly disappointing last 30 overs in the day must not detract from a wonderful first two sessions for Somerset as they bid to replace Notts atop Division One in 2018

Somerset v Notts, County Championship Division One, Taunton June 9 – 12 2018 Somerset 392 (Renshaw 106, Davies 92*, Abell 57), lead Notts 134 and 112-0 by 146 runs

Let’s deal with the only negative first. Somerset will be disappointed that they were unable to make any inroads into the Notts second innings in the final 30 overs of a pulsating day. 

Let’s also get rid of one absurd idea. The decision taken by Tom Abell to enforce the follow on was absolutely right.

Good, that’s sorted. Now for the innumerable number of positives. Somerset extended their overnight first innings by 85 runs for the last three wickets, principally thanks to Steve Davies. This was solid, pragmatic county cricket played by a seasoned performer ably supported by the lower order.

Davies is not a son of our soil. To many, he carries too much association to a certain metropolitan county that is not among Somerset folks favourites. To some, his many positive performances are overlooked while his failures are given too much attention. Davies is a cricketer who has not delivered to his full potential either in his career or since he joined Somerset for the start of the 2017 season.

But here not only did he add valuable runs in an innings that deserved three figures. His time at the crease on the second morning took away any momentum Notts had carried into the day after the rush of Somerset wickets late on the first evening.

By the time the visitors batted they faced an appreciably bigger target for first-innings parity than they would have expected in their Taunton hotel the previous evening.

This exposed the major frailty in the visitors whic may well see them end the season at the wrong end of Division One. Whether that is the case or not what is indisputably true is that the Nottinghamshire top order is not that of a title contender.

Somerset’s bowling attack, on the other hand, is one of if not the best in the county. Give them a mere sniff of weakness and they expose it. Here they didn’t so much create a chink in the Nottinghamshire armour they ripped it apart in 37.1 overs. 

And it could have been so much worse. 28-5 with four noughts in the top 6 suggested that three figures was almost impossible. Craig Overton was at his imperious, and frightening. He was ably supported by Lewis Gregory and the much-vaunted (on this site) Tom Abell he both took a pair of wickets and chipped in at vital times.

If it hadn’t been for Ross Taylor’s 74 the 100 mark would have been well out of reach. And if it hadn’t been for Taylor’s late slog against Craig, his figures(4-53) would have more fairly represented his performance.

Abell would have hoped his enforcement of the follow-on would have made Notts’ task on the third day even harder. That wasn’t to be but, despite having almost halved the first innings deficit without loss, their task remains a daunting one.

If Somerset can complete this victory it will not only move them to top of the table it will confirm their genuine title aspirations. If Notts are to change this writer’s perception that they belong at the other end of the division their batsmen will have to show lots more of the application and guts Mullaney and Libby showed at the end of the second day.