Not “Enough Backbone and Fight”

Not my words but those of Somerset skipper Tom Abell after a fifth consecutive red ball defeat. A game that Somerset couldn’t even extend to tea on the third day. A spell of 5-12 either side of lunch sealed the visitors fate. It doesn’t matter how hard you try there is no way to sugarcoat it, credit to Abell for not trying to Somerset cricket is in a terrible place at the moment. The manner of the defeat was as bad if not worse than the margin, and that is saying something. It is time to stop talking about “learnings” and showing that lessons have been learnt.

County Championship Division One, Hampshire v Somerset, The Rose Bowl Southampton, Day 3

Somerset 180 (Hildreth 87) and 135 lost to Hampshire 428 by an innings and 113 runs

Day three began with little expectation of salvaging a draw but hopes, maybe not high hopes but hopes nonetheless of Somerset’s inexperienced side showing more of the fight that they displayed late on day two.

For an hour, in the shape of openers Ben Green and Tom Lammonby that hope didn’t seem forlorn as the pair who forged a more than useful partnership in the truncated 2020 season continued where they left off the previous evening, stoically blunting Kyle Abbott, Mo Abbas and Keith Barker.

The first hour had just been safely negotiated when Green, who had been sensibly restrained, saw what he thought was a juicy half volley outside off stump, a loosener maybe from the newly introduced James Fuller. Much as Green had done on Friday evening Fuller found shape back in to find the gap between bat and pad and Somerset were 50-1.

Fast forward another hour (and trust me you’ll want to if you are watching the live stream on delay) and Somerset are 88-4. That’s a spell of 38-4 in 13 overs in conditions that while not perfect for batting were a lot better than you would reasonably expect this early in April.

Steve Davies managed to get out to the first ball after lunch, neatly bookending his game after he went to the last ball before lunch on Thursday. Ten overs later Somerset’s last pair were at the crease as, to quote the BBC’s Anthony Gibson, Tom Abell’s side “fell in a heap”.

The only member of the Somerset lower order who can hold his head anywhere near high is Kasey Aldridge who showed some of the qualities we are all looking for.

I’ve been a Somerset supporter long enough and have been through enough rubbish times to not overreact to one early-season defeat, especially with so many absentees. But I’m not prepared to see anyone who pulls on a Somerset shirt not fight for every run and wicket. I’ve seen plenty of games when we were well beaten by a better side as we were here. I’ve seen plenty of games where we have had to field a weakened side. But I’ve not seen many where there appeared to be a lack of determination to make the opponents fight every inch of the way. I wrote earlier in the week that all I asked from Somerset this season was to show, in every session, the fight and determination that Jack Leach showed in the West Indies when the England innings subsided above him. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide where on a scale of 0-10 today’s effort ranks on the Jack Leach scale.

I hate having to write it but I hate even more this result which will spoil my weekend. Somerset cricket is too important to me for a defeat like this to be easily brushed off. 

Hampshire were denied the title last season by Warwickshire who brushed the Somerset batting aside on the last afternoon of the season. They started this year’s campaign as the beneficiaries of another supine display by Tom Abell’s batsmen which will fill them with confidence for the next few weeks.

As for my boys, there needs to be a huge improvement from those, hopefully, coming back into the side next week for us to get anything out of Essex at Taunton. It’s going to be a long week.