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Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Phrench Phil (IP Logged)
Date: 22 May, 2019 21:25

An excellent post cricketharris, with which I concur wholeheartedly.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: AGod (IP Logged)
Date: 22 May, 2019 21:44

So far as I know there won’t be any live feed on Saturday, WSM. But I’ll be at the game anyway, hopefully as close as possible to being behind the arm. But if the game is actually being televised in any form, then I promise you that people watching, for example, a replay of a dismissal, will have a better idea about said dismissal than folks sat in the Mound or Tavern stands.

CricketHarris, I didn’t say the best view of the whole match is from the Static camera - it’s obviously useless for things not in shot. But it’s true that it’s much better for judging the line of the ball and movement etc than being at the ground anywhere other than behind the arm. If one is sat at mid-wicket, or point, for example, one wouldn’t have a scooby, really, about lbws. One is not well placed to judge movement etc.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 22/05/2019 21:52 by AGod.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: AGod (IP Logged)
Date: 22 May, 2019 21:51

Agree,,Cleavo. Pitch usually loses some pace by day three. So there was less in the way of steepling bounce. And it had dried out, somewhat, so there was less lateral movement (though still enough to work with).

Ironically, had we been able to bat for much longer in either innings, then Warks would have been left with more wkts in hand to use on the less tricky day three pitch. Perhaps the knowledge that track will flatten plays its part in our batting approach?

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Somerset LaLaLa (IP Logged)
Date: 22 May, 2019 21:58

It's all kicking off this evening and, while not wanting to take sides, I will say that one of the worse things to happen to cricket in my lifetime was the loss of free to air tv coverage.

There is a whole generation of children now who are not into cricket. Yes, many local school children had the benefit of free admission yesterday, but a lot of other people haven't the slightest clue that Somerset are in the final.

This would not have been the case in days long gone, with live mainstream coverage of the limied over competitions, Sunday league and test matches.

Next year people will have a chance to watch free live cricket at home and maybe go to a ground. The sadness is that it is a made up competition, with made up teams and you'll have to travel far to watch it.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Bagpuss (IP Logged)
Date: 22 May, 2019 22:37

Since the static cameras are positioned high up behind the bowlers arm I think the view they give as regards up-and-down movement isn't perfect (there are variations in a bowler's action and pace that may create more or less bounce on different deliveries too). Sideways movement is a bit easier to see, although again can be varied by more than just the behaviour of the pitch.

The best view of the pitch, and how the ball behaves, of course, is possessed by the umpire. As far as I know the umpires in this match have not expressed any concerns.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Scrumper (IP Logged)
Date: 23 May, 2019 00:01

Damn your Vulcan logic.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: AGod (IP Logged)
Date: 23 May, 2019 07:38

Yes, Bagpuss. But at the vast majority of grounds eye-witness spectators, if behind the arm at all, will also be at elevation (as we all will be on Saturday, for example).* So no advantage for the naked eye viewer there.

Nobody is disputing that the umpires have the best view.

As I say, I think the fact that things were consistent from the River End (bounce wise) was probably our saving grace.

I don't know how much lateral movement is necessary for it to be deemed "excessive," under ECB rules (although I'd assume it's rather subjective!).

I note Jason Kerr's comments, to the effect that we had back-to-back games, so there wasn't much time for preparation. However, I strongly suspect that, had the position been reversed, such that we were playing Warks first, and then Surrey, there's no way that the second track would have been like this - we'd surely have taken considerably more grass off it.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: AGod (IP Logged)
Date: 23 May, 2019 07:40

And I still think there's a daft double standard, where if it turns a lot, as vs Lancs, we should - apparently - be censured, but if there's a ton of lateral movement off the pitch and unpredictable bounce from one end, then that's fine.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Grockle (IP Logged)
Date: 23 May, 2019 14:12

I'm watching the games by necessity on a tv screen and I'm damn grateful for the work of Ben Warren snd Somerset for that.

I'm not there live on Saturday because the ECB couldn't organise a @#$%& up in a brewery or find their own @#$%& with a map.

I am luckier than many who can't be there because streaming services in Bermuda are not illegal and sports pubs show cricket games. No free to air in our 'summer of cricket' well domestically anyway.

Live is best unless you want to draw trajectory maps for every ball and analyse it to death. It's all about the day. Thinking the game through comes later after the excitement.



(Sm72)

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Phantom (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2019 11:03

Quote:
Grockle
I'm not there live on Saturday because the ECB couldn't organise a @#$%& up in a brewery or find their own @#$%& with a map.

I hate to be the one to ask, but why is it the ECB's fault you are not there?

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Mike TA1 (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2019 12:04

I am not speaking for Grockle but there are several people working in the media and officials who have not received the correct credentials for the World Cup.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: AGod (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2019 16:35

I was flummoxed by that, too, Phantom.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Grockle (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2019 16:45

It was all to do with changes to press pass issuing this year Phantom.

They were sent to County HQ's to be collected rather than posted (security fears it seems). They didn't get this right so people (Vic Marks and me included) found the delivery was 'phased' and they didn't arrive at the start of the season.

Though I was in the UK for the start, unfortunately my pass was not in Taunton and despite visiting the ground until leaving, it did not arrive. I returned to Bermuda without it.

Move forward to the semis. Applying for final credentials 12 hours after we won and sorting getting my pass to Lord's went forward but the ECB took 10 days to reply and confirm accreditation. By that time flights from Hamilton had reached $2000 so.....

It all seems to be part of central bodies putting all accreditation for the summer on the shoulders of the small accreditation dept at the ECB and they aren't coping at all well.

Ticketing for the 'World Cup' is also in a bit of a mess it seems, if you have any problems. No real way to get info or track tickets. Saying 'don't panic' a couple of weeks before the start seens to be the policy of the ticket bodies. "We'll just print tickets and you can collect at the gates"....... Good luck with that.



(Sm72)

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Bobstan (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2019 21:40

A department at the ECB not coping?

I cannot believe that!!

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Farmer White (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2019 12:39

Slowly catching up here for those with a wish to look back to the Warks match. Son's wedding preparations, ceremony and clear-up rather got in the way of writing match reports. However here is Day 2 - 2nd item on my home page - Somerset retain the advantage - at:

[farmerwhite.co.uk]


Also reproduced in full here:

County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Warwickshire. 20th, 21st and 22nd May 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 209. Warwickshire 110 for 7. Warwickshire trail by 99 runs with three first innings wickets standing.

Second day. 21st May – Somerset retain the advantage

Tom Abell must loom large in the minds of opposition batsmen when they are at the crease. Fielding at cover he forms what must at times seem to be an impenetrable wall as he dives full length to strangle ‘certain’ fours in their infancy. For the second ball of the second day of this match it was not a dive but a jump which apparently took the eye. Jeetan Patel, one of the more dangerous among lower order batsmen, drove Leach hard and high over cover. Four! Except that Abell catapulted himself upwards, reached even higher and snared the ball. Patel’s threat was ended before it had begun. It was an astonishing catch as it was described to me, for I had missed it. It must have been quite something because it was often the first thing on people’s lips for the rest of the day whenever I stopped to chat to someone new.

As I sat on my bus as it queued patiently to get past the hedge-trimmers blocking our side of the road and my route to the cricket the text came in from the ground. “Warwickshire gone for 135. Patel – brilliant catch from Abell. Norwell arched back to avoid a ball from Overton. Bowled behind legs. Somerset 15 for 2. Azhar and Hildreth ducks. Trescothick going at it brutally. Ball moving and bouncing.” It read like a telegram despatched from some crisis in a distant land in the days before communications satellites made it as easy to report news from Australia as it is to see what is going on outside your front door. And yet its staccato delivery painted the picture well enough for me to suffer the classic angst of the cricket supporter delayed in getting to the ground when ‘something is happening’.

On my deliverance from my bus I took my seat in the lower terrace of the Somerset Pavilion next to the despatcher of the text. The news report continued with a stop press update, “Wickets from the other end. Runs from this end.” As if to emphasise the point made about his innings Trescothick crashed a cover drive to the Caddick Pavilion boundary. It set the great phalanx of schoolchildren, who had filled the Ondaatje Stand as part of Somerset’s ‘Schools Day’, into a frenzy of waving arms and excited chatter. It stood out two octaves above the general chatter which, by comparison, rumbled around the ground like a distant thunder storm.

Abell seemed to be “going at it hard” too. A square on-side drive off Norwell crossed the Somerset Stand boundary, the longer boundary in this match, when on the first day it would have waited for the fielder to haul it in for three. Trescothick despatched another cover drive, this time to the Somerset Stand. “His wagon wheel is nearly complete,” said someone who had watched from the start. When he was lbw to Norwell for 23 trying to turn the ball to leg the cricket-player with me said, “Shame. He was just starting to play himself in to some form.” Somerset were 37 for 3, 111 ahead as the steady fall of wickets began to hold back the flow of runs.

When Abell glanced Brookes to the Colin Atkinson boundary for four the schoolchildren cheered, the rest of us applauded, someone said, “Lovely shot!” and I remembered the number of times I had seen Abell caught down the leg side to that stroke. Low scoring matches are nervous affairs. Somerset may have been ahead but the prospect that the pitch might flatten for the second Warwickshire innings, or one of the opposition batsmen get in and make a score sufficient to eradicate the gap between the sides, prodded away at the brain’s worry buttons. When on 23 Abell played well forward to Norwell and edged the ball to the keeper he depressed the atmosphere and prodded another worry button. Somerset 46 for 4. Just 120 ahead.

Bartlett and Davies tried to push Somerset forward. Bartlett started with a square drive to the Somerset Stand and a straight drive to the Somerset Pavilion off successive balls from Brookes. It was indicative of the way Somerset were playing. No quarter was asked. None was given. Only Davies was more circumspect; looking, waiting, and waiting again for the ball to persuade to the boundary. Cheers followed the boundaries, applause the singles and gasps the ball beating the bat. And all the while the perpetual torrent of jubilant chatter from the Ondaatje Stand floated in the background. One ball in particular from Patel, bowled from the River End, turned and bounced nastily. There was no stroke from Davies and it passed harmlessly to the keeper but it kept the nerves pitched on the edge between hope and fear.

When Bartlett drove hard at Brookes he only connected with the inside edge and Ambrose took an exceptional catch, diving well down the leg side to pluck the ball out of the air as if it were his standard practice with every ball. It was an exceptional catch in a match of exceptional catches. Somerset 68 for 5, Bartlett 14. Gregory to the wicket. The lead just 142. Somerset faces were beginning to become a little anxious as estimates of a possible target percolated the chatter. “At least 200,” someone said. “I think we would be safe with 250,” someone else said but without much confidence that Somerset would stretch it that far. Somerset were having to fight for every run. The steady supply of no balls and byes with which the Warwickshire bowlers had bolstered Somerset’s first innings total had completely dried up and the way that ball seemed to tuck Bartlett up and the inside edge which resulted suggested the pitch still had life in it. With Warwickshire having last use the continued movement at least settled the nerves a little as lunch approached.

My usual lunchtime circumnavigation, anti-clockwise as always, as usual failed to get me back to my seat before the restart. The chat which helps make the day at a Championship match wondered about the pitch produced for this match and compared it to the one for the Surrey match. Much greener for this match, much more lively, against, according to the table, a weaker team. Could not Somerset win on a ‘better’ pitch with more bonus points? Would a ‘better’ pitch run the risk of a draw against a team Somerset might otherwise reasonably expect to beat? Is it possible to prepare a pitch with that degree of accuracy? Has the new drainage affected pitch preparation? Has this pitch narrowed the scores sufficiently to open up the possibility of defeat? Whatever the answers, if answers there be to such questions ahead of the outcome, the pitch had produced a match which was holding the attention.

I watched the overs after lunch from Legends Square. A different perspective from the one watching from my seat in the Somerset Pavilion, and in line with gully. Good enough to see Gregory’s off stump part company with its moorings, and hear the groan, as his forward defensive stroke, beaten by Norwell, looked forlorn as he held it for a few moments after his off stump had left the ground. When Davies’ departed for a, as they used to say in the old days, ‘watchful’ nine Somerset were 78 for 7 with a lead of 152 and the chatter that attends a cricket match had developed a more than anxious tone. 152 was in range of one decent partnership and a few odds and ends. It brought the prospect of defeat forward from the far horizons of Somerset supporter’s minds to the middle ground. Closer in the anxieties of some.

But cricket is cricket, Somerset are Somerset, Overton is Overton and on this day the ball needs must fly from the bat. It wasn’t just Overton of course. He was helped along the way by Davey, Groenewald and Leach but it was Overton who provided the core and direction of their partnerships with six fours and a six. Groenewald too can wield a bat with the best of lower order batsmen. His six, hooked, flew high over the Ondaatje boundary. He, and Somerset, also had a stroke of good fortune. An intended six went high but not long towards the Ondaatje boundary. Hannon-Dalby, hero of Warwickshire’s bowling in the first innings, became villain in the field. He back-peddled hard towards the boundary. Spectators can often sense when a skied catch is not going to be taken. It is as if the fielder telegraphs a sense of uncertainty. Hannon-Dalby’s run never looked right and had no certainty about it. He took the ball with his hands high over, and slightly backward, of his head. And then seemed to throw it forwards as if he had caught a red-hot potato shot towards from some heavenly oven. “It probably came out of his hands and the jerky movement was probably him trying to catch it again,” said my cricket-playing companion.

In 18 overs Somerset’s lower order added 86 runs, nearly five an over, and took the target somewhere back towards the far horizons of Warwickshire hopes and at the same time lifted Somerset spirits. The spirits of the Somerset crowd at least, for cheers replaced the turbo-charged chatter of the gradually departing groups of schoolchildren. The hitting was clean, the defence determined and the running decisive. It must have given Somerset some momentum to take into the field as Warwickshire set out in pursuit of 239. By 30 runs they needed the highest score of the match on a pitch still suited to bowlers.

When Rhodes began the Warwickshire innings he played Gregory’s first five balls as if he were having a gentle defensive net. He did not look remotely challenged. To the sixth ball he went forward as defensively as to the others and edged to Davies. Warwickshire 0 for 1 and the slight intrusion of Somerset anxiety that the first five balls had induced was dissipated. But a voice behind me saying, “We need to get the wickets in the first 25 overs before the ball goes soft,” did not make for restful watching since it had a ring of truth about it. By tea Sibley, the Warwickshire ‘dangerman’ who was on everyone’s lips had beautifully driven Gregory through the on side to the Ondaatje Stand for four. Gregory’s run-up and delivery are so smooth he can lull you into thinking he is not presenting a threat. Then, without looking any different from those that have gone before, a ball utterly defeats a batsman. This time it was Yates, completely tucked up by a lifting ball, and Davies again took the catch. 26 for 2. Warwickshire were still 213 short and as the players left the field for tea the chatter in the crowd had a more relaxed tone about it than it had dared when the Warwickshire innings was getting underway.

After tea the rest of the match began to take shape. There would be no Somerset-style assault on the bowling. Warwickshire attempted to build their way to the target slowly, safe run by safe run as if they were carving a statue out of stone. Somerset’s bowlers often talk of bowling with patience, probing away and giving nothing away until pressure builds on the batsmen and a ball finds its way through. When the batting and bowling both follow the same ‘patient’ strategy the pattern of a match, or of what remains of it, is elongated and so are the developing emotions, of anxiety or expectation, felt by supporters.

It took nine overs for Sibley and Hain to add 20 runs. That pace of cricket, without a wicket, in the fourth innings of a close match, of itself, builds tension. The knot in the pit of the stomach tightens just that little bit more with every passing over. The more so in this case because, arguably, Warwickshire’s two best batsmen were playing themselves in and the ‘runs required’ number on the scoreboard had fallen below 200. Then, as so often, patience in bowling paid off. Leach had joined the attack, Sibley played back, the ball found the edge, the hands of Gregory at slip moved smoothly to his left and took the catch. It was as if the movement of the hands and the movement of the ball were part of some synchronised piece of living art. 46 for 3, Sibley gone for 12 and a huge cheer of jubilation tinged with relief resulted for Sibley was a real threat. “That one turned a bit,” the instant incoming text.

Hose, who had left Somerset two years before and scored but two in the first innings of this match, drove Overton straight for four, repeated the stroke against the next ball, mistook the line and the ball hit his pads. As the umpire raised his finger the cricket-player said, “That wasn’t going anywhere but into the stumps.” 55 for 4. 182 needed and Banks in to join Hain. Somerset hopes rose now and the animation of the chatter with them. “Another wicket tonight,” implored a voice from further back the stand as the need to keep taking wickets against a low target was never far from the front of every Somerset supporter’s mind.

Unless the pitch is entirely suited to a bowler Abell rarely seems to keep bowlers on for long and he replaced Leach at the River End with himself. As so often seems to be the case with Abell, the change of bowling brought a wicket. Whether Abell’s bowling changes actually do bring wickets as often as supporter’s think they do is for the statisticians. Here it needed no statistician to find the answer. Banks sent Abell’s first ball over point for four with an uppercut that brooked no argument. With his fourth Abell struck the pad and Warwickshire were 84 for 5. Banks 11. 155 needed and the cheers now beginning to signal the belief that Somerset had the winning of this match, and first place in the Championship table, in hand. As the seagulls began to gather over the Trescothick Stand, the customary harbinger of the end of a day’s play, a lightning-fast throw from Bartlett at point hit the only stump he could see. Ambrose, apparently running at the absolute limit his legs could manage, failed to make his ground at the end of a single that, completely out of kilter with the rest of the innings, always seemed to rely on the fielder missing the stumps. Warwickshire 89 for 6. 150 short.

The match was now firmly in Somerset’s sights. At the close only Hain stood firm against them on 43, the highest score to date in the match, with Warwickshire still 136 short of victory. It had been an exceptional innings from Hain as Somerset, bowlers and inner ring fielders alike, closed in around him and Warwickshire. He exuded calm and control and held the striker’s end against all comers. First and foremost, he played defensively. Some thought he posed a distant threat to the target Somerset had set but few thought he could garner enough support to accompany him for as far as he needed to travel especially at the speed he was going. He had ridden some luck, edging short of Hildreth at slip and then fine of backward point for four off the next ball. He had though demonstrated his intent with a drive off Leach through wide mid-on to the Trescothick Stand and a glance off Davey to the Colin Atkinson boundary, both for four. He might present a threat in the morning but only if he could find someone to hold the other end tight. If he could, there was still the prospect of another Taunton Championship nail biter on the morrow.

Close. Somerset 209 and 164 (L.C. Norwell 7-41). Warwickshire 135 (C. Overton 5-31) and 103 for 6. Warwickshire need 136 to win with four second innings standing.

Re: Warks CC1 Taunton
Posted by: Farmer White (IP Logged)
Date: 01 June, 2019 19:02

As Guildford approaches and I think about packing my bag I have posted on my website my recollections of the last day against Warwickshire - via this link to my home page:

[farmerwhite.co.uk]

As always the second item, this time entitled "Never in doubt ..."


The report is also reproduced in full here:


County Championship Division 1. Somerset v Warwickshire. 20th, 21st and 22nd May 2019. Taunton.

Overnight. Somerset 209 and 164. Warwickshire 135 and 103 for 6. Warwickshire need a further 136 runs to win with four second innings wickets standing.

Third day. 22nd May – “Never in doubt …”


“You can’t afford to be late today,” was the comment as I left the house. “Somerset only need four wickets.” True, but for this supporter, who has been worrying about Somerset on the field of play since the launch of the first sputnik in 1957 the Warwickshire threat to the 135 runs which Somerset still had left to defend, however distant, nettled away at the back of the mind. Yesterday’s hedge-clipping was no more, so my bus delivered me to the ground with time to spare. As 11 o’clock approached there were about 400 people in the ground, perhaps 500 with those behind glass. They were spread around the stands and there was even a good smattering in the Somerset Stand. It was enough. The atmosphere in the ground as the morning developed suggested there were several times that number, for this was a Somerset crowd in a season in which winning the County Championship is more than a fanciful dream. Winning this match really mattered.

The first question I was asked, almost light-heartedly and rhetorically as I stood and chatted on Legends Square, was “Who will win?” With over six decades of watching Somerset burned into my soul it was not a question I dared risk answer. The superstition which lurks in the psyche of virtually every cricket supporter would not permit a single Somerset chicken to be counted or opposition goose to be cooked before the event, however certain their respective destinies seemed to be. When Brookes edged Gregory and Davies took off to take the catch low and far to his right Warwickshire were 109 for 7, still 128 runs short. Somerset’s chickens began to line up for the count, although no-one in my hearing counted, and Warwickshire’s goose looked forlornly towards the oven.

Even so Jeetan Patel walking to the wicket brought back memories of Edgbaston 2012 when Warwickshire had needed 55 to win with just two wickets left and he came out after lunch to blast Warwickshire home without the need for the last batsman to leave the Pavilion. It was a different matter here as Overton sent his off stump flying and Warwickshire were 120 for 8, still 119 short. As Patel walked off, the flying stump and Somerset closing in on victory notwithstanding, some of the talk was still of Abell’s catch of the previous day. Moments like that live long in the memory of those fortunate enough to see them and the fall of another wicket can bring them vividly back to the forefront of the mind. When Hain brought up his fifty the comment was, “The only fifty of the match,” and then a heartbeat-missing pause before “Sorry, the first fifty of the match.” The bug of superstition still bit, still demanded that no loose words risk another fifty, even with eight wickets down. Only moments later it seemed the bug might not have been assuaged when Hain glanced Gregory fine, Davies took off, got his hand to the ball but let it fall to the ground. “He’s dropped it!” the desperate comment.

For over half an hour Hain and Norwell resisted and edged Warwickshire forward. Although Somerset eyes kept a watch on the slowly advancing score a pause for breath, a cold assessment of the situation and balls beating the bat left anticipation of impending victory the overriding emotion. Eventually, inevitably it seemed, Norwell was hurried into trying to fend off a lifter from Groenewald and edged the ball to Davies. This time Davies made no mistake. 140 for 9. Warwickshire 99 short. Just one wicket left. Now relief mingled with anticipation as Hannon-Dalby walked to the wicket although some remembered his long vigil in defending Warwickshire’s last wicket for over an hour to prevent Somerset winning in 2013.

He set himself to the task again. He had seemed to lead a charmed life in 2013 as he played and missed time and again. He seemed to do the same here, repeatedly hanging his bat tantalisingly outside the off stump only for the ball to pass harmlessly by. At the other end Hain looked secure but did not progress the score or seem much inclined to ‘farm’ the strike. The “runs required” figure at the bottom of the Gimblett’s Hill scoreboard seemed to be frozen on “96” for an eternity as Groenewald and Leach probed away. It was as if the match was suspended in some limbo land where the players played on but time and the score stood still. Only when Abell replaced Leach did the cogs of the fourth dimension begin to whirl away again. Hain triggered the movement with an edge wide of gully for four and an off drive to the Colin Atkinson Pavilion for another. In an over the runs scored in the previous 40 minutes had been doubled. It was as if a sleeping giant had suddenly been prodded into life. Once come to life he began to take control of events and those “runs required” began, inexorably, to reduce.

With 85 still needed there should have been no cause for concern but tension began to infiltrate the air. You can ‘hear’ tension in sport. The chatter reduces in volume but increases in intensity as every ounce of concentration is on the cricket. A hushed hum settled across the ground. Then, a voice from the Somerset Pavilion shattered the moment. “Come on Somerset!”. From the middle there immediately followed the unmistakable sound of Trescothick calling, “Come on boys!”. Then Abell, “C’mon,” followed by the urgent clapping of Azhar’s hands. Almost immediately Davey induced an edge from Hannon-Dalby’s waving bat but it fell short and wide of the slip cordon and crossed the Colin Atkinson boundary for four.

Still Warwickshire needed 73 to win. It was a chasm in the context of this match, and yet the tension was palpable as Hannon-Dalby gradually looked more secure and Hain began to score runs. It was difficult to explain with Warwickshire in such a parlous position but the hush was such that a single conversation being conducted some way along from me in the lower section of the Somerset Pavilion could clearly be heard in every detail. Perhaps the importance of Somerset winning this match in the context of sustaining a Championship challenge weighed in people’s minds. Perhaps a glance at the scoreboard revealing that Hain had reached 72 on a pitch on which no-one else had scored more than half that number and a realisation that Hannon-Dalby’s innings was beginning to reach 2013 proportions provoke worries that the impossible might just become possible.

Some well-struck fours from Hain drove Warwickshire a little further towards the impossible and demonstrated the quality of his innings as it stood out further and further above all others in the match. Often in such situations a batsman finds a way to stay at the crease where all others have failed and to score runs where all others have struggled. But this innings was at a level above such performances as increasingly, with the occasional, and on this pitch inevitable, edge he batted with assurance and apparent safety. If Hannon-Dalby could just hold on and Hain could keep scoring the tension now gripping virtually everyone might reflect a real threat and perhaps the growing realisation of that was its source. Perhaps too it was the source of a change in Warwickshire tactics for now Hain was farming the strike. Singles were being declined as the gradual brightening of Warwickshire’s dim hopes began to turn some of the pressure on the batsmen.

Groenewald, Davey and Abell tried their all but the batsmen stood firm. Voices within the ground, and a text from an online watcher, were calling for the return of Leach who had not bowled for some time. As lunch approached and a further half hour of play to be added before the interval beckoned Abell declined the thought which must have crossed his mind too and turned to his senior pace bowlers, Gregory and Overton. Hain continued to take Warwickshire forward with three boundaries, the last of which was a top-edged hook off Overton which Groenewald first ran towards and then pedalled back from but it evaded him and bounced for four. It left Warwickshire 50 to win. The last wicket partnership had gone half way to its goal but it still had half way to go which at least put the rest of Warwickshire’s task into perspective. Then, finally, Gregory put it properly into perspective. He found the edge of Hannon-Dalby’s hanging bat and Overton took a good low catch at gully. Somerset’s chickens could finally be counted.

Somerset had won by 49 runs. “Never in doubt …” someone said with the emphasis on irony rather than certainty. In truth, as far as anything can be certain in cricket, it probably never had been in doubt but the tension had built up just the same as that last wicket stand ground interminably on. Inexplicable perhaps but the genie of never having won the Championship sits on the shoulder of every Somerset supporter. It can focus the mind on the consequences of defeat rather than on its likelihood in circumstances such as these and defeat in this match, and perhaps in any other in this competition this season, would be a severe blow to Somerset’s Championship propects.

That is a thought to ponder as Somerset set off to Guildford on their three-match ‘South-Eastern Tour’. The four sides Somerset have played to date are currently the bottom four in the division. Three of those four matches were played at home. The next two matches are the return matches against two of those sides. Beyond that, six of Somerset’s last eight matches will be against the three other teams currently in the top four alongside Somerset. The ‘hard yards’ in this season’s Championship may yet be to come. Just as they were in 2017 when Somerset set off to Guildford in June. Guildford defined Somerset’s Championship campaign in 2018. If Somerset are to reach those ‘hard yards’ later in the season, and still in contention, Guildford 2019 it is just as crucial.

Result. Somerset 209 (O.J. Hannon-Dalby 5-18) and 164 (L.C. Norwell 7-41). Warwickshire 135 (C. Overton 5-31) and 189 (S.R. Hain 92*, L. Gregory 4-48). Somerset won by 49 runs. Somerset 20 points. Warwickshire 3 points.

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