There are many things to be pleased about this morning after such a convincing three day, innings victory but for me the sight of a smiling Tom Abell talking to the press after the game is foremost.

County Championship Division One, Somerset v Warwickshire, The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, April 28th to May 1st 2022, Third Day, Somerset 458 (Renshaw 129, Abell 70, Lammonby 56, Banton 57) beat Warwickshire 209 & 167 (Brooks 4-44) by an innings and 82 runs

After so long without a win. After so long with only defeats for Somerset County Cricket Club this was not just a result but a performance to savour. To beat the reigning champions is always very satisfying but this was a case of the pennant holders being comprehensively out-played from the first session by an all-round team performance. 

If there was any doubt about whether the follow-on would be enforced it was dismissed when Craig Overton did not open the attack on the third morning. Josh Davey didn’t keep Overton waiting long for the second innings new ball though taking the last Warwickshire wicket with his seventh ball of the day. 

Somerset couldn’t have wished for a better start to the day and by lunch would probably have thought the first session had, in its entirety followed that trajectory. 

The Warwickshire top three were all gone for a second time, all for single figures and all before the visitors had reached 25. 

Runs had become virtually academic by this stage with time instead creeping into the equation with the Sunday weather forecast looking less than encouraging. 

That forecast may have had a physiological positive on the Warwickshire fourth wicket pair, hauling the daunting distant target of around 5pm on Sunday considerably closer. For an hour and 20 minutes after the break Sam Hain and skipper Will Rhodes stayed together, occupying 30 overs. But Somerset’s quintet of bowlers kept things tight allowing runs to only accrue at a shade over 2 overs. 

Steve Kirby had said something on Friday evening that caught my attention. Paraphrasing Tango the gist was that the opposition are “allowed partnerships”. True but also mentally very interesting establishing a mindset among the bowlers and fielders that a period without a wicket is not in any sense a failure. Some among the “pitchfork army” would do well to adopt a similar mindset perhaps?

Somerset’s bowlers continued to bowl with great discipline but little reward to the point where even the effervescent skipper was lee voluble than usual. But a combination of the match position and the excellence of the bowling was soon to produce its reward, and then some.

Will Rhodes played no shot to a Jack Leach delivery with pitched outside his off stump and appeared to turn sharply. It was a moment for the Warwickshire captain which emulated some of the inexplicable shot selection of the Somerset middle order before this game. 

The breach was to widen quickly. In the following over Lewis Gregory induced Sam Hain to clip the fifth ball of the next over to Craig Overton who had been ostentatiously (you have to ask if big Craig has ever done anything surreptitiously) posted at an unusual leg gully. Joy unconfined for Tom Abell and his side. 

Birthday boy Briggs, the dangerous Burgess and the “Aussie Biffer” McAndrew followed quickly, a run of 5-32 in 13 overs which persuaded the representatives of the evil empire (umpires Bailey and Wharf) to delay tea. 

For those of you who don’t recall these were the same umpires at the centre of the 2019 end of season fiasco against Essex – I have many character flaws and bearing a grudge is one of them. Messrs Wharf and Bailey will never be forgiven for that moral miscarriage.

Jack Brooks was the man who did the damage picking up those three wickets in a spell that was accompanied by a cacophony of rhythmic clapping as he ran in. Members of the crowd attributed the accompaniment to Tom Blanton who encouraged the clapping. Initially Brooks seemed put off but, having pulled out of his run once he soon embraced the situation. Is there a cricketer on the circuit better able to use such a scenario?

An inspired Brooks celebrated each wicket by sprinting to various boundaries accompanied by his overjoyed teammates. If some felt that the celebrations were a little over the top I hope the majority will excuse what was clearly a huge outpouring of relief. 

Craig Miles and Matt Lamb survived the extended session to tea. And for a while thereafter controlled the situation admirably adding 46. Somerset’s bowling and fielding suddenly seemed flat, unusually and so. when the partnership continued after tea thoughts began to turn to the second new ball, perhaps so with the batters too. Abell, sensing a need to change the dynamic brought back his spearhead and almost immediately Overton removed Miles thanks to a sharp low catch by Matt Renshaw at second slip.

Craig Overton – 29-11-53-4

167-9 became 167 all out to the first ball of the next over when Taunton’s joint favourite son had bowled Matt Lamb. It was a dreadful shot to end a dreadful performance by the champions. But who cares eh?

Jack Leach – Sealed the win an took 3 wickets in 32 miserly overs