Bob Willis Trophy Central Group, Somerset v Glamorgan, Taunton, August 1 – 4 2020, Day 2 Somerset 296 (Davies 81*, Brooks 72, Lammonby 41) and 131 – 2 (Hildreth 45*, Abell 44*) lead Glamorgan 131 (C Overton 5-38) by 296 runs
Somerset began the second day leading by 288 runs. By the end of it, they had increased that lead by eight runs but their position in the overall game was immeasurably stronger.
The theme running through last week’s preseason game with Gloucestershire for me was the gulf between the first and second divisions. The evidence of the second day was much the same as Glamorgan’s batsmen had no answer to first division bowling.
Craig Overton, who has in the last eighteen months developed into one of the very best in the top division, was far too much for the Welsh side’s top order. Overton has apparently been told by the powers that be at England that he needs to add an “extra yard to his pace”. I suspect there were many batsmen in the Andrew Caddick Pavilion who were thinking that Craig had more than enough pace thank you.
From a parochial point of view the importance of Somerset keeping Craig Overton couldn’t have been more clearly demonstrated as it was on day 2 at Taunton.
Having progressed from their overnight 8-0 Glamorgan advanced to 15 in the ninth over before Overton struck first removing Charlie Hemphrey caught in the gully. Within 12 overs of Overton and Josh Davey Glamorgan’s first innings was in tatters at 38-6 as, except for Nick Selman (lbw to Davey), the slips cordon faultlessly and gleefully celebrated edge after edge.
While the quality of the pace bowling was the apparent difference between the sides, the catching was another key differentiator. Whereas Tom Lammonby and Steve Davies had benefitted from lives on Saturday Somerset offered their opponents no such largesse.
Graham Wagg is a different proposition and he, along with the Glamorgan lower order managed 93 runs for the last four wickets. There were several determining factors in this recovery. The ball seemed to behave as it aged, the overhead conditions improved slightly and the batsmen showed more inclination to get in line and play with courage.
Jack Brooks and Jamie Overton, bowling with an older ball than they would have expected, were unable to pose the threat of Craig and Josh. Brooks after an expensive first over bowled with good control if looking a little short of pace. Jamie was quick.
The younger twin’s reasons for leaving at the end of the season will, in all probability, remain unknown but his desire to get use of a new ball seems to me the most likely. My sense, though I have done no research so can’t back this with facts, but my impression is that he has not been particularly effective when given first use. If he can bowl as well, with such hostility, with a ball that had lost his threat though that will do Somerset nicely for the remainder of this season.
The seventh-wicket pair added 63 before Craig returned to get Wagg caught in front of his face by James Hildreth at first slip. 91-7 became 107-9 before the injured Smith plundered 22 in an over off Josh Davey who had previously only conceded 12 in 11 overs.
Jamie Overton was brought back to wrap things up and that’s precisely what he did with his first ball. Smith caught off a top edge by Steven Davies.
It should be noted that in this first game of the post-Simon Lee era this pitch is blameless, being described by those lucky enough to be at the ground as a “very good cricket wicket”. It offers pace, bounce, a little movement. For the batsmen it offers the ball coming on to the bat to encourage stroke players.
This was most evident when Tom Abell and James Hildreth were available for the last 19 overs of the day. The pair added 93 in 19 overs at a pace well above what has been seen in this game so far. They had come together with the score on 38 after Eddie Byron departed, yet again, just as he was settled and starting to blossom. He and fellow opener Tom Lammonby have shown enough in this game however to be given an extended run in the side. Both have shown they have what it takes and, when they do make significant runs, are capable of doing so stylishly and at a good rate.
The two young openers would have done well to watch the third wicket pair. Both demonstrated what it takes to score runs at Championship level. Both did so with style and control and by the end of the session were threatening something very substantial.
With two days to go and an improved weather forecast indicating little or no interruption, the game is Somerset’s to control. The priority is for Abell and Hildreth to survive the first 45 minutes. If they can do this then thereafter they will be able to press ahead mindful of the likely absence of George Bartlett, who did not field at all.
A lead of around 400 by lunch and a merry hour after to complete Glamorgan’s demoralisation would be perfect. A declaration timed so that the bowlers get two fresh spells with a new / newish ball either side of tea that would add more value.
While Somerset do not have the late-match threat of Jack Leach or Dom Bess in this game, and there is the slight worry that the pitch my die as it has in the past asking Glamorgan’s batsmen, already scarred by their first innings experience, to bat over four sessions will be a challenge beyond them.
Thoughts on what you would do if you were Tom Abell welcome on the forum here.
In this compressed competition, Somerset are in as good a place as they could be to make the best possible start.