Muddled Thinking

In all my years of supporting Somerset - and there a lot of those - I’ve only once had a week that has got me down so much - the final weekend of the 1978 season when we lost the chance of two trophies in one weekend. Then we were beaten in two games fair and square. In this last week we have been authors of our own misfortune and it hurts like hell.

Yorkshire 159-5 (Brook 79*) lead Somerset 134 (Fisher 5-41) by 25 runs with 5 first innings wickets remaining

There really is no need (again) to write a report of today’s play. Somerset fans who have been locked away all day and only seen the close of play score would be able to accurately report what had happened today.

And while there was a point, when Dom Bess was dismissed and Yorkshire were 122-5, that the possibility of restricting the hosts to a small first innings lead came into my mind but the two Harrys Brook and Duke took that possibility away and closed with plenty of power to add.

There are however plenty of questions to be asked, and most of those arose in the hour after the toss. 

I am happy to say on many occasions that Jason Kerr and Andy Hurry know a lot more about cricket than I do and that they have the inside knowledge about the squad that I don’t but I have to say I think we deserves some explanations this evening of the decision making process around selection, batting order and toss.

Those of you who’s listened to Friday’s Somerset Podcast will know that we found it difficult to select a side but I have to say I don’t think we were alone. The problem for Somerset is that those that make the key decisions for Somerset seemed to be equally unsure.

It didn’t take a huge amount of deductive skills to work out that a 10.30 start in early September would make batting, even under sunny skies a challenge. You could almost see Steve Patterson jump for joy when Tom Abell, having called correctly decided to have a bat. If this was a bold positive decision to assert control in the game it was badly misjudged. On a day when 102 wickets fell across the eight games there were five first innings scores less than Somerset’s paltry 134. Only three sides winning the toss elected to bat and the other two who did, Surrey and Leicestershire clearly had better reasons in terms of pitch and condition than faced Taunton at Scarborough.

Then we have the batting order. Having made the big mistake of asking Steve Davies to open after a day and a half in the field last week the decision was taken to move Davies down to 6. With Azhar Ali not, as I expected, opening but coming in at 3 the skipper, who I suspect put his had up to accompany Tom Lammonby at the top of the order.

What those adjustments did was bat our two most consistent run scorers out of position, something that really does matter to a lot of professional cricketers. Unsurprisingly the results weren’t great. Abell made 2 and Davies 15.

There was a brief period in the middle of the morning when the third wicket pair had dragged some semblance of stability back at 64-2 but a sadly all too familiar Hildreth slash at a wide one open the floodgates as the innings slumped in a flash (32 balls) to 68-6.

Why was Lewis Goldsworthy omitted? He has barely put a foot wrong all summer and yet the out of form pair of Bartlett and Banton were preferred in the middle order?

With a bowling attack that needs Tom Abell to bowl first change (he is a very capable bowler but not one who would fill that role for any side with title aspirations) the need for big first innings is paramount but sadly the selection and batting order made achieving that even harder.

Jason Kerr said at the end of the game the game is “evenly poised”. Sorry I beg to differ. I agree with him that it was a frustrating day, although I might have added a couple more words in there and at least one would not be printable here.

Kerr then contradicted himself by saying that the, “ First half hour tomorrow is crucial to keep us in the game” which to my mind sort of contradicts the assessment of the game as evenly poised.