LV County Championship Group 2, Somerset v Middlesex, Taunton, April 29th to May 2nd
Day 3 Somerset 268 (Bartlett 55) and 104-4 need 103 runs to beat Middlesex 357 and 117 (Overton 5-34, Davey 3-28)
A few days ago I was trying to persuade a member of the Twitter community, who was deciding which county to support, that she should – of course – support Somerset. With a little help from Brian The Cat we were giving Essex a real run for their money. What you can’t convey in a tweet, or even several tweets what it is really like to be a Somerset supporter.
It’s actually easy though to explain what we all go through supporting our club. You just tell them to watch Somerset on a day like today. You’ll get to experience the full range of emotions, the dramatic swings from optimism to pessimism, back again to more than hope and then, at the last a further setback.
If you are looking for a blow-by-blow description of what was a fantastic, frantic and (for those of us of a west country persuasion) frightening day of Championship cricket you are going be disappointed by this report. This was a day that was far to enthralling to get bogged down in the detail, instead here are those mood swings.
Start of play Optimism Bartlett and Goldsworthy resume their overnight stand of 80. If they can bat through most of the first session Somerset should be well within a hundred of Middlesex with power to add in the afternoon.
Mid-Morning Gloom news that Lewis Gregory is self-isolating under the COVID protocols and will not be able to take any further part in the game. His batting and bowling will be badly missed. Jack Brooks is the COVID substitute.
Lunch Despair 178-4 has become 268 all out, a deficit of 89. Not only are Somerset behind in a game they had clawed their way back into late on Friday but they have missed out on at least a couple of precious batting bonus points.
Early Afternoon Resignation Middlesex’s openers Robson and Holden have taken their side to 44 without loss, a lead of 133 and look like taking the game away from Tom Abell’s side.
Tea in the words of Cricinfo,“Dramatic resurgence”. Craig Overton and Josh Davey combine to take 7-38 in 21 overs to reduce Middlesex to 82-7, the lead is now 171.
Innings Close OK, that could have been a lot worse the target is 207, there was no tail end rally with Craig (a magnificent 5-34) and Tom Abell wrapping things up.
Fourth innings, first ball Anguish Banton b Murtagh 0 – Somerset 0-1
Five overs later That familiar sinking feeling Lammonby is gone and Somerset are 17-2
Four overs left in the day Daring to dream Tom Abell and James Hildreth have added 78 in 15 overs, both are looking in good touch, the sun is shining there is the real possibility that these two can see it out for the day with have the required runs on the board.
Four overs left in the day Seriously Hildreth goes for 43 off only 38 balls 95-3 now we need Jack Leach to do Jack Leach things for just four overs.
Penultimate ball of the last over No emotion left – Leach goes. Somerset are one run past halfway there but the chance of the nightwatchman navigating the crucial first ten overs on the final morning has gone.
All of this in the context of Hampshire losing and Gloucestershire struggling to force an advantage which, if Somerset win, would take them second and very close to leaders Gloucs (assuming they don’t lose tomorrow).
If you wrote this script it would get rejected. If you are wondering which county to support and want an easy life, no stress, no emotional roller coasting. Do not support Somerset. For those of us who were born and bred into this we have no choice and do you know what I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m off for a lie down. Heaven only knows how I am going to feel tomorrow morning. Sleep well all!