At the fall of the fifth wicket or 3:28, whichever is the later!

After 50+ years of supporting Somerset I have come to terms with many a disappointment and this result was yet another. But at least the quirks of the playing conditions served up a smile mid way through the afternoon

Somerset v Surrey, County Championship, Taunton, June 12th to 15th Day 4 – Surrey 382-9 innings closed (Burns 113, Jacks 88, Clark 63*) &     beat Somerset 180 & 392 (Gregory 110*, Goldsworthy 67) by ? wickets 

There were two times, one in each of the first two sessions, where the optimist in me though there was a chance, just a chance that Somerset might sneak something improbable from this game. Given the way Somerset have, despite the fight they have shown on the third and fourth days, been outplayed in this game it would have been larceny of the highest order if they had.

The first occasion was when Lewis Gregory and Peter Siddle were calmly extending their overnight partnership beyond the first hour of the day. Looking almost untroubled they reached their 50 partnership just before midday and the lead to 150. The ninth-wicket pair extended their alliance to 91 before Siddle, who had reached 42 off 95 balls was sawn off by umpire Ben Debenham who for some utterly inexplicable reason deemed a ball that Dan Worrall had speared down the leg side and would have struggled to hit another set, waw worthy of an lbw verdict.

Lewis Gregory had reached 110 by this point a wonderful innings by one of my all-time Somerset favourites. Sam Dalling recently asked me to give him some memories of Lewis’s Somerset career, something I found very easy. Gregory plays a very important part in my Somerset supporting life as he is the last member of the side who was one of my late father’s favourites, his successes mean just that little bit more as a result.

Make no mistake this was a fine effort, coming in at 191-5 he oversaw the more than doubling of the total and provided the bowlers with something to bowl at and restored some much-needed pride in the drooping dragon that is Somerset cricket.

Siddle’s dismissal realistically ended the slim chances of Somerset batting long enough to make Surrey’s run chase impossible, that would probably taken an hour into the afternoon session at the pair’s rate of progress. Marchant de Lange’s arrival offered only one hope, given that the chances of him hanging around for a protracted period are always slim. Perhaps he could belt 30 or 40 quickly and with Gregory joining the party set Surrey in excess of 250?

It was a wild fleeting hope which lasted only two balls. 394 all out, a lead of 192 and two sessions and 20 minutes left. Gregory was stranded on 110 (190 balls, 9 fours and a six).

The second glimmer of hope was when Surrey, after q fast start either side of lunch lost three wickets in 16 balls for just 5 runs. 65-0 became 70-3. Just a couple more wickets in the hour before tea and things could get really interesting. Kasey Aldridge was superb in this phase of the game picking up 2-24 off 7 overs where he showed more than promise. His removal of Jamie Smith, comprehensively bowling the young Surrey wicket-keeper batsman was particularly pleasing. What could Craig Overton have done at the other end?

Kasey Aldridge – showed what he is capable of with a two-wicket burst on a docile final day surface

But Hashim Amla was sitting on the visitor’s balcony ready to bat if needed and that was just what Somerset did not want to see. 

Now, I love cricket more than most, think over 50+ years I’ve got my head around most of the rules, regulations and playing conditions but when we were told that Amla was able to resume his innings at 3:28 or the fall of the fifth wicket whichever is the later I had to laugh. All I could think about was the tea towel that you see hanging in many cricket pavilions explaining the rules of cricket in a way that is totally inexplicable. Perhaps Polly Rhodes could start a neat side-line in weird cricketania tea towels and the like and start by trying to explain that one to me?

It was a brief moment of levity though as the afternoon session saw normal service resumed as Surrey reached tea needing 65 off 35 overs with 7 wickets in hand.

The formalities were duly completed after tea but not without the odd frisson, nothing more, of hope. A chance to Tom Abell in the slips given by Jacks off the bowling of Aldridge seemed like the final death knell as only 57 were required but Geddes was determined to give Aldridge his third wicket in the same over giving Ben Green a comfortable catch. 

Peter Siddle, who had resumed the Somerset attack after tea with Aldridge got a reward for his hard work with the prime wicket of amla lbw for 9. Siddle who is the epitome of the wicket-to-wicket bowler finally got one through the South African legend to make it 154-5. Aldridge struck with the first ball of the next over to make it 161-6 and Siddle removed Jacks for 62 with 18 still needed.

But that was just the set-up to allow Jamie Overton to be there at the end and, if there is any room left in the wounds to rub salt into them.