Second XI Championship Somerset Second XI v Middlesex Second XI, April 18-21, 2022, Taunton Cricket Club Days 1,2 & 3: Somerset 216 all out (Aldridge 39, de Lange 31 not out) and 205/1 (Church 111 not out, Goldsworthy 82 not out), lead Middlesex 278 (Hollman 72, de Lange 5-41) by 143 runs.
Somerset Squad: Second XI Coach, Greg Kennis named the following squad: Ollie Sale, Will Smeed, Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Marchant de Lange, Josh Davey, Ned Leonard, Kasey Aldridge, Lewis Goldsworthy, Archie Vaughan, Dylan Church and Adam Small.
Middlesex Squad: SD Robson, JLB Davies, JB Cracknell, LBK Hollman, D O’Driscoll†, Atharva Prasad, NA Sowter*, BC Cullen, TL Greatwood, MB Harris, I Kaushal, C Mullapudi
As always with the seconds, supporters are keen to see who is included in the squad, and try to extrapolate the implications for the first team. Todays team held no surprises for most given the number of out of / returning to form batters the Club has at present. Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Will Smeed and Lewis Goldsworthy all being given the opportunity to show their first team credentials.
We also welcomed Adam Small on his debut as wicketkeeper, Adam previously having been behind the stumps for Devon and for Sandford, his club side.
Would the above mentioned batters take that opportunity on a fine, bright morning or would they, as is so always the occasion recently, allow the strong, experienced Middlesex attack get on top of them? I will leave you, the #SecondsWatch readers, to decide.
Opening with Dylan Church (Exeter University), George Bartlett scored 13 from 11 deliveries, Lewis Goldsworthy soon made is way back to the dressing room, having made only 13 from 38 balls. Tom Banton 12 from 25 deliveries and Will Smeed 0 off 5, also succumbed quickly to the Middlesex attack – leaving Somerset on a precarious 67-5.
Either side of lunch and a mid afternoon rain break Kasey Aldridge and Archie Vaughan, stood tall (well Kasey would wouldn’t he) against some fine seam bowling and managed to reach 136 before Kasey was out to the bowling of Luke Cullen (caught by C. Mullapudi) for the top score of the day of 39. Josh Davey (8 not out) and Archie Vaughan (34 not out) were still battling away when a further rain shower brought play to an early conclusion.
The sight of Andy Hurry helping to remove the ground sheets and covers after the first rain shower was a sight to behold.
Day 2 started on time with Somerset wickets fell rapidly against some very tight Middlesex bowling, Archie Vaughan was the first to go, caught in the slips for 34, followed quickly by Ollie Sale without scoring. Josh Davey was next to be out for 14 caught behind off the bowling of Kaushal leaving Somerset on a precarious 167/9. Cue the 10th wicket partnership of 49 between Ned Leonard (23) and Marchand de Lange – 31 not out including 3 towering sixes leaving Somerset on 216 all out; now if only……..
The top order Middlesex batters then gave Somerset an object lesson in holding an innings together, closing on 204/4 including a massive 40 extras – Robson 25, Davies 27, Cracknell 29 and Hollman 66 not out; putting Middlesex in the driving seat. Kasey Aldridge with 2-25 from 13 overs being the most successful Somerset bowler.
How the fortunes of cricket change and change they did very rapidly in Somerset’s favour, the discussions that (I saw) between Steve Kirby and the Somerset players must have had an effect.
Overnight, Somerset withdrew Tom Banton and Josh Davey, both recalled to the first team squad, Josh Thomas and Jack Harding taking over.
Restarting their innings on the overnight score of 204/4 the Middlesex lower order batters failed to capitalise on their dominant position. Kasey Aldridge bowled the dangerous Luke Hollman, who only added 6 to his overnight total. Then it was the Marchant de Lange show, the South African seamer picking up a “fifer “ (5-41 off 19.5 overs) including the wickets of Prasad (7, brilliantly caught at first slip by George Bartlett), Harris (1), Mullapudi (0) and Kaushal (lbw 0). Middlesex sliding to 278 all out.
Sould the Somerset top order batters hold up against the formidable Middlesex attack? George Bartlett (1) only lasted 8 balls before being caught at second slip by Davies from the bowling of Kaushal. Thereafter Dylan Church and Lewis Goldsworthy proceeded to build a partnership of 189 off 71.3 overs. Church reached his century with a boundary off Kaushal from 240 deliveries including 16x4s, and at the close was 111 not out. Lewis Goldsworthy, perhaps smarting from being omitted from the first team squad, most ably supported Church, reaching 82 (7 x 4s) not out, from 190 deliveries, at close of play.
The fourth day tomorrow should see Somerset consolidating their lead and be looking to set Middlesex a challenging 250+ run chase in the afternoon and evening sessions. Let’s hope the first team can emulate this performance at the Kia Oval.