Do “We Have Some Serious Issues with our Top Order”

The question that won't go away. But I'm not advocating change in either personnel or order. Yet.

Somerset V Gloucestershire, County Championship Group 2, April 15th to 19th 2021 Day 3, Part 1 Somerset 312 and 88-7, lead Gloucestershire 309 by 91 runs

The extended tea break seems to provide a dividing line at which it is appropriate to get the issue of the top order out of the way. The report on the day’s play will follow later with every chance that this might be the final day and not with the result Somerset supporters are looking for.

The reason for this dire prognosis (I know it’s only sport but the prospect of losing to that lot up the road is always dire) is that Somerset’s second innings lies in tatters at 88-7 shining yet again the light on the talented but as yet raw top order.

There is always additional pressure on the batsmen in the third innings of a game like this, where the first innings totals are so close. My perception is that in such situations the side batting last wins more often than not. The last thing you want in such a situation is to lose an early wicket. 

You also have to remember that these young Somerset top order batsmen are on a learning curve having not previously experienced a run of low scores and therefore not having the inner belief that their class will see them through. Just look at how hard James Hildreth, one of the most experienced top order batsmen in county cricket, is having to work to get himself back into form at the moment.

Tom Lammonby, Ton Banton and George Bartlett are prodigiously talented cricketers of the highest class. There isn’t another first class county or their supporters who wouldn’t give a small fortune to have such players come through into their first team. But they need time to establish themselves.

It is harder for batsmen than bowlers. A poor ball, over or spell can be remedied in the same innings. Once dismissed twice in a game there are no more chances until the next fixture. We all also need to remember that this is mid-April and batting is never going to be easy for even the most experienced and also give credit (much as it sticks in my keyboard) to give credit to the Gloucestershire bowlers who have outperformed the more vaunted Somerset attack in this game so far.

So I am going to say here and now Somerset supporters need to keep the faith and be patient. I agree it is horrible seeing us fail to score runs consistently and always relying on the lower order but that’s sport and a knee-jerk change of personnel isn’t going to change anything.

I’d go with the same line up against Leicestershire keeping the three Tom’s in the same order at 1,2 & 3. I’m not joining the clamour for the captain to move up and open and I am not looking to draft in Eddie Byrom, Ben Green or Lewis Goldsworthy. We have picked our side and we need to stick with it.

Of course we all want this to be the year we win the Championship but I honestly don’t see how changing the batting order at this early stage will enhance our chances. I saw a post on the SCCC Facebook Group this morning making the statement I’ve turned into a question for the title of this piece. It is interesting to see the wide range of opinions being expressed. 

My conclusion. There is no magic wand to solve this problem. We can’t just conjure up an international quality overseas top order batsman nor can we make any domestic signings that would improve the side. It would have been nice to have secured Jake Libby last season or perhaps even Haseem Hameed but we didn’t / couldn’t.

It is unfair to expect the bowlers to bail us out with bat and ball yet again. I suspect this is a game to far. If I am right the season isn’t over but my nerves sure could do with a couple of decent opening stands and scores!