For Gibbo

While Somerset dominated a poor Warwickshire side on the field the only home hostility came from the barbed comments about Taunton by the home commentator

Bob Willis Trophy Central Group, Warwickshire v Somerset, Birmingham, August 15 – 18 2020, Day 1 Warwickshire 121 All Out (C Overton 3-17, T Abell 3-4) lead Somerset 80-2 (Lammonby 33, Byrom 30) by 41 runs

Warwickshire won the toss, Warwickshire batted. Somerset bowled and fielded like champions to dismiss them by 3pm for 121 in 45.2 overs and by an early close due to bad light were already two-thirds of the way to taking a first innings lead. 

Those were the bare bones of a day utterly dominated by Somerset. It was perhaps appropriate on a day when the weather left most other teams kicking their heels and Derbyshire, the front runners in the Bob Willis Trophy after two rounds faltered at Headingley that somerset emphasised their status as contenders on the ground most associated with Willis’ domestic career.

Warwickshire are a funny old bunch aren’t they? Edgbaston could be a wonderful cricket ground but it has, like the Ageas, been developed into a cavernous bowl of antipathy. A soulless monument to the ECB’s disregard for the Championship. Anthony Gibson, who for the whole of the day on commentary was at his partisan and pugnacious best, began by commenting that the ground was more cathedral like than usual for a four-day game. That entirely justified comment as those who, like me, were there last season will testify.

But that entirely justified comment seemed to irk the Warwickshire commentator for some inexplicable reason. What followed, on and off though the day was a series of constant jibes directed at Somerset cricket in general and the pitches at Taunton in particular (no need to miss an easy opportunity eh?).

When Anthony aired a “correspondent” who questioned Warwickshire’s right to be critical when, for the second year running we have played so far to the Hollies Stand side of the square that the boundary make a mockery of first-class cricket our friend from Warwickshire immediately put it down to, “the Pettiness of Social Media”. Well, let me say for the avoidance of doubt, I was that correspondent and I wasn’t being petty just asking how a test match venue could play a game of such significance with boundaries that most club sides would be ashamed of.

I hope Gibson can find a decent pint or two this evening, he deserves it and we want him to continue to advocate on out behalf against such small minded and misplaced criticism. I am grateful to Dan Kingdom for this tweet which might interest the Warwickshire commentator.

Ironically, if Warwickshire’s players had shown the same partisanship albeit misguided as our friend from BBC Coventry and West Midlands, they might find themselves in a better place after the first day. As it was they had little to offer against a somerset attack which, apart from the peerless Craig Overton, was nowhere near its best. 

After a glacial start two strikes by Craig and a Tom Abell run out reduced them in a blink to 15-3 and although Bell and Lamb steadied things Craig’s return produced a wicket with the last ball of the morning session to reduce the home side to 65 -5, Bell having gone caught by Davies down the legside six runs earlier off Lewis Gregory.

After lunch Warwickshire’s two new boys, Burgess and Bresnan added 23 before Lewis cleaned up the former and from there Tom (“The Chronically Underbowled”) Abell mopped up the tail with a ridiculous spell of 3.2-2-4-3. 

But all of this was possible because of Craig’s work in the morning. His 9 overs produced 3-5 and it could easily have been six or seven in the wickets column. He was simply too good to get the edges his bowling deserved and showed superb skill and control with that extra yard of pace he has been trying to provide. If there is a better English bowler playing cricket at the moment (and yes that includes those playing for England) I haven’t seen one.

Pleasingly Somerset batted with more control in the second half of the day and apart from a 15-minute spell when we lost both openers showed that this is a pitch which should yield some batting points. Eddie Byrom showed yet again what a talent he is and then showed yet again how good he is at getting out when he’s done the hard work. Tom Lammonby shaped well but also got out in the thirties.

That left Abell (15*) and a surprisingly jittery Hildreth (18 off 24 balls) to see Somerset to the close with eight wickets in hand. The much-vaunted, at least by Warwickshire commentators and social media accounts, Oliver Hannon-Dalby bowled well and threatened but Warwickshire’s reliance on him, he has already bowled 12 overs out of 29, demonstrated how thin their attack is. 

Disregarding the gloomy weather forecast, Somerset’s immediate task is to see of OHD and then take advantage against the other bowlers. With an uncertain forecast for the whole country over the next few days a draw with decent bonus points might surpass what most can achieve.

Meanwhile, let’s all get our tin hats on and await the brickbats certain to be directed at Somerset and their supporters as we continue to dominate this game.