Rockhampton Road?

After the first two days it seemed sensible, with no disrespect to the efforts of Ben Green and Lewis Goldsworthy, to conclude that this game was being played on a batting paradise. But day three called this into question, is the surface as good as we first thought or did Somerset’s bowlers completely out-bowl their opponents led by Ned Leonard's 5-39 on the day?

Mike Unwin

Mike moved to Montacute (4.5 miles from Yeovil) in 1952, he started watching Somerset in 1956 and has been a supporter ever since. In retirement, when not at the County Ground or Taunton Vale watching the Somerset Second XI, he can be found, volunteering at the Ilminster Arts supporting the Stock and Sales system or in the Somerset Cricket Museum cataloguing the collection items and putting them online, on the museum’s website

Second XI Championship Somerset Second XI v Gloucestershire Second XI, May 3rd – 6th 2022, Rockhampton Cricket Club, Day 3. Somerset 2nd XI 592 all out (Ben Green 150, Lewis Goldsworthy 196, Marchant de Lange 85)  Gloucestershire 2nd XI 189 (Ned Leonard 3/30, Lewis Goldsworthy 2/18) and 54/2, trail Somerset by 349 runs with 8 wickets remaining.

The headline numbers indicate that Gloucestershire are facing an innings defeat against Somerset, they trail by 349 runs and have already lost two second innings wickets, but that does not really tell the whole story of the third day when set against the Somerset score of 592 all out.

Somerset had batted, relatively untroubled, for two days with big centuries for Ben Green and Lewis Goldsworthy topped off by a 10th wicket partnership of exactly 100, with Marchant de Lange contributing 85 batting at number 10. Would we see Gloucestershire emulate this on a benign pitch or would Somerset’s seamers extract some life from the pitch not previously seen or would the left and right arm spin options of Lewis Goldsworthy and Max Horton get some assistance from the “Rockhampton Road”? 

Let’s unpack the day and see how it played out. Before play began, Gloucestershire made the following overnight changes: BJ Chapman-Lilley came in for GFB Scott, MR Trotman for JMR Taylor, Paul van Meekeren (whom Somerset supporters remember with much affection ) for J Shaw while WL Naish took over from Jared Warner. Finally Dom Goodman, who only bowled 10 overs in the first innings was called up to an injury-hit first team squad for their match v Hampshire starting on Thursday.

Somerset got off to a tremendous start with the new ball removing the four top-order batters for just 30 runs, with Kasey Aldridge taking the wicket of Price (caught behind by Jamie Baird for 4), and Ned Leonard bowling Ben Wells (ex Somerset Academy and Second XI) for 4, having the dangerous T20 batter Ian Cockbain, caught by Max Horton also for 4, and then pinning Tryfonos LBW for 3. 

As Steve Kirby remarked during the Warwickshire match ‘the opposition are allowed partnerships’ and so it proved, the fourth and fifth wicket partnerships delivering 66 runs and 48 runs respectively. The first being ended by Ben Green with another catch for Jamie Baird – Will Naish gone for a spirited half-century and the second, Chapman-Lilly (31) falling to the left-arm spin of Lewis Goldsworthy, caught by the omnipresent Green.

We pondered yesterday whether spin would play a part in today’s proceedings and so it turned out with Raza pushing forward to Lewis Goldsworthy and being taken at first slip by George Bartlett for 31 as part of Lewis’ tally of 15 overs, 7 maidens 2/18.

Spin would deal yet another blow to the Gloucestershire middle order with Horton trapping Brewer lbw for 2, before the new ball was taken. MdeL and Kasey Aldridge cleaned up the tail with two wickets in three balls, Trotman lbw and Charlesworth caught behind to give Jamie Baird his third catch of the day.

With Gloucestershire 403 in arrears and 20 overs left in the day, Ollie Sale enforced the follow-on and his seam bowlers once again delivered. 

After a bright start the opening partnership of 42 was broken by Ned Leonard trapping Price lbw for 42 and then 2 balls later picking up the crucial wicket by bowling Ian Cockbain for 0. Gloucestershire finishing the day on 54/2 still 349 in arrears and Ned Leonard ending day 3 with match figures of 5 wickets for 39.

So, as in the recent Warwickshire match, the batters took their opportunities to score heavily against, in retrospect, some poor bowling, and then both seamers and spinners took what they could from a combination of pitch and poor batting by the opposition leaving Somerset needing to take 8 wickets on day 4 for a well-deserved innings victory, but will there be a twist in the tail? 

Morale in the relative Somerset dressing rooms must be high at the moment.

Follow play on the final day here