Tough Task for The Twos

A strong Middlesex Second XI with regular first team batsmen and bowlers lead the way after the first day of an intriguing match at the Radlett Ground.

Mike Unwin

Mike moved to Montacute (4.5 miles from Yeovil) in 1952, he started watching Somerset in 1956 and has been a supporter ever since. In retirement, when not at the County Ground or Taunton Vale watching the Somerset Second XI, he can be found, volunteering at the Ilminster Arts supporting the Stock and Sales system or in the Somerset Cricket Museum cataloguing the collection items and putting them online, on the museum’s website

Second XI Championship Somerset v Middlesex, May 7th – 13th 2021, Radlett, Day 1 Middlesex 223 all out (Steve Eskinazi 79, Ari Karvales 5-41), lead Somerset 57/4 by 166 runs with 6 wickets remaining

Somerset Squad: Somerset Second XI Coach, Greg Kennis has named the following squad for the match: Ben Green, Chris Gibson, Sam Young, Will Smeed, Ben Wells, James Rew, Sam Elstone, George Drissell, Ned Leonard, Jack Brooks, Alfie Ogborne and Ari Karvelas.

New names in the Somerset lineup today are Chris Gibson, a right handed batsman from Truro, who has played for Cardiff UCCE and Nottinghamshire Seconds recently, Ben Wells, an Academy player from Bath, a right hand bat and wicket keeper and Sam Elstone who has come through from the Somerset U18 group.

Tom Banton, who batted at 3 in the second innings of last week’s game against Gloucestershire was the notable absentee from the Somerset side.

Middlesex Squad: JLB Davies†, SS Eskinazi, Z McCaskie, JM de Caires, JB Cracknell, LBK Hollman, NA Sowter*, I Kaushal, TL Greatwood, BC Cullen, ST Finn, TG Helm

Somerset supporters will recognise several Middlesex 1st XI members: Steve Eskinazi (who captained the 1st XI at Lord’s in the season opener), spinners Nathan Sowter and Luke Hollman plus seamers Tom Helm and Steve Finn. A name they might not recognise is Josh de Caires although, according to the @newsofthetwos twitter account his Dad is a little more familiar, Lancashire and England’s Mike Atherton (thanks Dan Kingdom for the spot).

I wonder what was in Ben Green’s mind as he won the toss and decided to have a bowl? The greenish looking surface of the Radlett strip being helpful to his bowlers or the prospect of facing Messrs Finn and Helm not being too enticing? 

A combination of rain breaks and wickets for Ben Green (de Caires bowled for 17) and Ari Karvales (Davies LBW for 29 and Cracknell LBW for 18) meant that the home side went into lunch on 97/3, Joe Cracknell departing in the last over before the break.

The afternoon session was dominated by the innings of Steve Eskinazi who was eventually out for 79 caught by Ned Leonard off the bowling of Ben Green. Only the 10th wicket partnership (33 from 11 overs) between Cullen (26) and Greatwood (24 not out) offered any further resistance to the Somerset attack. Ari Karvelas finishing with 5-41, Ben Green 3-33, plus 1 each for Jack Brooks and George Drissell.

Middlesex were eventually all out for 223 off 69.4 overs just after tea; vindication for Green’s decision to bowl first, but leaving Somerset to bat out the remaining 26 overs in the day.

The first four Somerset batsmen had little answer to the formidable Middlesex seam attack with Helm and Finn ably supported by Blake Cullen (who also has first team experience this season) and Ishaan Kaushal. Chris Gibson (LBW 3), Ben Green (caught behind by Jack Davies 4), Sam Young (LBW 10) and Will Smeed (caught 0), trying to cut a lifting ball well outside the off stump, all perished cheaply before Ben Wells (17 not out) and Jamie Rew (14 not out) came together with 12 overs left to see Somerset to their 50 off 23.4 overs and see it out to the close without too much difficulty.

Wells and Rew’s (dubious) reward for their hard work last evening will be to face two Helm, Finn and Co fresh and no doubt firing. They will not have a better learning opportunity in the middle until they make their way into the first team when, paradoxically they might face ….. Helm and Finn. In the context of this game Somerset’s ambition must be to get as close to Middlesex’s first innings to reduce their fourth innings run chase in a game which is moving on quickly and barring significant rain delays looks set for a positive result.

Thanks must go to Middlesex County Cricket for their live stream throughout the day, but I hope people watching took their sea leg tablets before play – I think the camera must have been attached to a tree judging my the amount it was swaying around.