Group 2 Permutations

The definition of a damp squib at Taunton with no play possible after lunch. Meanwhile elsewhere Hashim Amla earned the freedom of Taunton to deny Hampshire at Southampton

Of Cheltenham and Southampton

Somerset v Leicestershire, County Championship Group 2, The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, July 3rd to 7th 2021, Day Three, Somerset 461-9 Declared (Conway 88, Van der Merwe 76, de Lange 75, Davey 75*, Davies 65) drew with Leicestershire 475-7 (Swindells 171*, Barnes 83*)

Rain, in Anthony Gibson’s words “put the game out of its misery. Never a truer word. Somerset’s players were left frustrated not just with a surface where the balance was far too heavily tilted in favour of the bat but with the “fluid landscape” they are having to deal with as a result of the England call ups.

Andy Hurry, who coined the “fluid landscape” description was clearly trying to convince us all of the positives in his post-match and I have to say I am with him. Top of the table in the Championship and second in The Blast south group is no mean achievement. But there is work to be done at The Ageas on Friday and The Oval starting on Sunday.

At least we now know what is needed in the last round …..

At Cheltenham it has to be a reasonable assumption that Gloucestershire will complete victory tomorrow over Middlesex although the group’s basement dwellers showed more resistance in the 54 overs of their second innings than they have all season by compiling 95-3. They still require a notional 324 to win. 

If our nearest neighbours do complete victory the 20 points they will pick up (they missed out on a second batting point by 2 runs) they will close to within five points of Somerset. Their opponents next week, Hampshire, had a day of frustration, failing to beat Surrey despite enforcing the follow on with a first innings lead of 416 and slipping to 9-3 and 30-4. An indication of the nature of the day can be easily obtained from a summary of the scorecard:

Surrey 122-8 off 104.5 overs. Amla 37* (278 balls) Barker 3-9 (22 overs), Abbott 1-19 (23.5 overs)

Jamie Overton who came it at 9 with 18 overs left had me a little worried when he raced to 11 off 30 balls including two 4s but even his dismissal couldn’t change Hampshire’s fortunes as Rikki Clarke kept Amla company until the handshakes.

So the equation is pretty simple. Hampshire, who will be third when they travel to Cheltenham trail Somerset by 11 points. Even if they pick up a maximum point win against the Gloucesters a draw for Somerset with six bonus points will be enough. Surrey need to overturn a deficit of 22 points on Somerset next week but even that won’t be enough unless Cheltenham is a complete wash out. 

If all of these machinations are too much for you I sympathise. In it’s simplest form a draw at The Oval should be enough. I’d have taken that at the start of the season and especially midway through the game at Lords.

As for the game at Taunton the less said the better. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of “to peter out” might have to be amended to refer to days three and four. The result was pretty much a foregone conclusion from lunch on day 3. Even if Somerset had enforced the follow on (and they might have if the skipper had not dropped Swindells early in his innings they might have) it would have been almost impossible to bowl Leicestershire out a second time on that surface. Mightily as Jack Brooks and Marchant de Lange bowled it was to no avail.

Put it down as one of those and move on.