Ticking The Boxes

I’m thinking of starting a Twitter account called “The chronically under-bowled Tom Abell”

Bob Willis Trophy Central Group, Somerset v Glamorgan, Taunton, August 1 – 4 2020, Day 3 Somerset 296 (Davies 81*, Brooks 72, Lammonby 41) and 290 – 8 dec (Abell 119, Green 54, Hildreth 45 lead Glamorgan 131 (C Overton 5-38) and 126-5 (Cooke 67*) by 329 runs

The pattern for this third day of the Bob Willis Trophy game was set by its first ball. The pattern for the remainder of the gamer by the last ball of the day. In between we witnessed a fascinating battle that demonstrated all that is good about four-day cricket.

I’d said in my preview piece that I felt Glamorgan might surprise a few people in this competition. A prediction that looked a little silly on Sunday, but they deserve great credit in that they are still alive in this game, albeit with virtually no chance of saving it. 

I’d scribbled down three targets for Somerset before the day began:

Lead by 400 at lunch;

Declare with at least 40 minutes to bowl before tea;

Take 5 wickets before the close;

Jamie Overton, who’s every delivery in this second innings was like a dagger to Somerset hearts, finished the day by trapping Dan Douthwaite leg before, ensured that the final objective was met. Glamorgan find themselves in a precarious position with only skipper Chris Cooke left of the recognised batsmen

As to the other two targets? Somerset’s ambition of punching the lead above 400 by lunch floundered to the first ball of the day. James Hildreth got a beauty from Michael Hogan first up. One of those deliveries that most first-class batsmen wouldn’t be good enough to get a touch even when well set. Such is Hildreth’s class and technique that he did. Paradoxically he was gone before the SCCC feed had even taken the scorecard graphic down.

With George Bartlett unable to bat (we assume concussion although I’ve heard nothing official) Ben Green joined Abell. That the pair were undefeated at lunch says much for the young all-rounder making only his third appearance in first-class cricket, but at the interval 213-5 represented a lead of 378. 

To denigrate Abell and Green would be unfair however because, apart from a spell around midday, when Abell tried to be more expansive, the Glamorgan bowlers kept things tight. Marchant de Lange bowled with, at times, unplayable hostility while Graham Wagg will have nightmares for weeks about how he did not find the edge. Green despite bearing the brunt from both bowlers showed guts and no little skill to be 34 not out at lunch.

Tom Abell was batting with the class we all know he has and when, after lunch he went to his century it was no more than he deserved. We all expected him to push on once he reached three figures, but he took that notion to its extreme going 4-4-6-6-4-w off Kieran Bull.

From that point (257-4) the innings lost its way. Steven Davies unselfishly came and went in 19 balls for 18 and Green went past 50 for the first team for the first time in his career. But the attempts of the Overtons and Roelof came to naught and Abell closed the innings at 2.49 with a lead of 455.

When you watch the live stream on You Tube you can’t help but to read some of the comments and get drawn in. Contrary to many of the “correspondents” I thought Abell got the declaration spot on. He batted Glamorgan totally out of the game and gave his bowlers tow spells with a new ball either side of tea. Not only is Tom a fine batsman he is a leader way beyond his years. Future England Captain? Yup I’ve said it now.

While de Lange and Wagg had showed some threat on this pitch Craig Overton (again) was in a different class. He took the wicket of Selman with his third ball, induced a catch to his brother in his fourth over and was mightily unlucky not to pick up a couple more in the pre-tea spell. When Jamie replaced him, Kieran Carlson was hurried by the extra yard Craig is striving for to further his England ambitions that the younger twin already has. 29-3 at tea.   

Billy Root, the left-handed incarnation of the England captain and Chris Cooke, the highly gifted Glamorgan captain wicketkeeper set about the near impossible salvage job and by the 36th over were beginning to settle having added 66. What was going through Root’s mind when he attempted a reverse sweep early in Roelof’s spell one can only guess but the ball found its way through to the stumps and young Billy was on his way.

Van der Merwe bowled a tight and typically aggressive spell of 1-8 in six overs and showed that while he may not be a Jack Leach or a Dom Bess he is a fine spin bowler. It would be good to see him get a decent spell tomorrow from one end and allow the seamers to rotate at the other.

Josh Davey and Jack Brooks were their typical selves. Davey miserly and unlucky, Brooks aggressive and a little expensive and Tom Abell gave himself a couple of overs at the end. I’m thinking of starting a Twitter account called “The chronically under-bowled Tom Abell”. I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again I’m sure but to only give himself two overs and then when the ball was nearly 50 old is just wrong. Sometimes, Tom, you are just too nice!

I was willing the skipper to get a wicket in his short spell but Jamie, with pace to spare, did the business and although it would nice for it to have been Cooke, Douthwaite will do.

This is going to be strange season to look back on, but I suspect Jamie Overton is going to break out hearts many more times before he leaves. But for now, let’s just let him go and propel us to a Lords final.

Jamie Overton – you break my heart

Elsewhere in the Central Group Worcestershire are ahead against the “team from Bristol” (I’ve unashamedly adopted that) with our opponents from last week trailing by 26 with 3 second innings wickets down. Next week’s opponents Northants looked to be down and out at 148-5 – still 78 in arrears of Warwickshire, but a sixth wicket partnership of 159 between Charlie Thurston and Adam Rossington has given Northants a slender 90 run lead with four wickets left. And with Olly Stone injured again Warwickshire will be hoping Tim (3-26) Bresnan can get them over the line. Both could be exciting finishes; both could yet end in draws. 

Without wishing to get carried away Somerset are in a great position in game and group already.