September’s Unfinished Business

This was a hugely damaging defeat. Utterly inexplicable and at a very bad time in the season. As Somerset head into the T20s the gap at the top of the table will need a lot of recovering

Specsavers County Championship Division One, Headingley, Leeds – Somerset 196 (J Overton 52* K Maharaj 7-52) and 251 (Banton 63, Abell 53) lost to Yorkshire 520 All Out (Balance 111, Kohler-Cadmore 102, Brook 101, Bess 4-130) by an innings and 73 runs.

“Comprehensively Outplayed”

Not my words, those of captain Tom Abell in his post-match interview. And it pretty much sums it up.

Every Somerset supporter would have started the day with the hope, however slim, that Somerset could pull of the improbable and escape with a draw. Within 11 overs of the resumption both Tom Banton and Dom Bess were dismissed along with nightwatchman Tim Groenewald and all hope was gone. Even if defeat could not have been avoided the hope was that Banton and Bess, two of our brightest young stars could play career defining innings on the last day.

Although the Overton twins, demonstrates the application of a simple yet effective method, resisted for a short while after Steven Davies had gone it was all over shortly before lunch. Somerset emerge with just the solitary bowling point from a chastening defeat.

The Yorkshire sages had opined before the game that their side hadn’t been at their best so far this season. The certainly were in this game. Somerset by contrast were not. The measure of this team will be how they react from here, an evaluation complicated by the fact that we won’t see red ball action for over a month.

Jason Kerr’s comments after the game should give all Somerset fans cause for optimism. Stressing that while no longer leading we are still very well placed in the championship and that spirits, despite this defeat are high in the squad. Somerset had a similar blip in the middle of the 50-over cup group stages and we know where that ended, a collective experience that should stand us all in good stead.

With Essex wrapping up victory over Warwickshire they are now the leaders by 4 points with 4 to play. Yorkshire have got themselves back to the fringes of contention 34 points adrift of Somerset. They will need to win all four of their remaining games (including the trip to Taunton) to have any chance.

The remaining fixtures are:

Essex:               Kent (a) Warwickshire (a) Surrey (h) Somerset (a)

Somerset:         Warwickshire (a) Yorkshire (h) Hampshire (a) Essex (h)  

Yorkshire:         Notts (h) Somerset (a) Kent (h) Warwickshire (a) 

There has, paradoxically been a surge of support for the team on social media over the last few days, pleasing to see and I am sure something the players will appreciate. This is I think evidence of the deep affection for and pride in this team from the supporters. Long may it continue.

It is also pleasing to see the positive and supportive response from a large number of Somerset supporters to the lazy media narrative that Somerset badly missing Lewis Gregory and Jack Leach. While there is no doubt that they were both missed in Leeds, any side would miss two such superb cricketers. But that is not the point. Somerset has developed an academy system that is the envy of most other counties. The purpose of that academy is to produce talent in all formats for the Somerset first team and beyond. Somerset have been the beneficiary of the consistent high-quality performance of Gregory and Leach and it is gratifying to see that talent being recognized at a higher level.

Yorkshire rarely see Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow or Adil Rashid, Hampshire have been without James Vince and Liam Dawson since mid-May, Lancashire will not see James Anderson again this season. It is one of the side-effects of success at county level and one I hope we will have to come to terms with as a club.

But all that is in the future, we have a T20 competition to win and that starts, with barely time to breathe, on Thursday in Cardiff. That campaign will dominate until 18th August with the trip to Birmingham. Hopefully by the time the championship returns we will be anticipating a T20 quarter-final.  

Beyond that, when we get into September it is fair to say Taunton is going to be the place to be for the remaining two championship games. We need to make the CACG a formidable environment for both Yorkshire and Essex. We have some unfinished business with both.