Middlesex don't get the point
No worries on overrate
September 27 2017
Harvey gives us a detailed report on the second day of our vital match at Taunton. Lots of ups and downs but the end is a precarious position. Thanks for painting the picture.
Somerset v Middlesex Taunton Day 2 2017
Arriving at the ground at the scheduled start time in gloomy conditions we were not surprised to see the covers still on the square and that the start had been delayed. However the delay was only 10 minutes and the players took to the field in conditions that were actually worse than at the scheduled start time.
It was no surprise to see the spin of Leach and Bess opening for Somerset, and things went from bad to worse for Middlesex when without adding to the overnight score, Voges (4) drove Bess straight to Abell at silly mid-on. 18/4.
Malan finally opened the scoring for the day with an elegant stroke to the long on boundary off Leach. However further disaster soon followed, Simpson (0) succumbing to a direct hit on the stumps from Bess, going for a single that was never on. 22/5, and the prospect of a humiliating follow-on loomed large.
Malan was joined by Stirling however, and between them they began to make this controversial pitch look at least to some degree playable. Both used their feet well, and the Somerset spinners lacked the consistency they had found on Day 1. Stirling adopted an aggressive approach, coming down the pitch and hoiking Bess over long on for 6, then cover driving him for 4 in the same over. A pull shot by Malan struck Trescothick fielding at short leg full on the abdominal protector with a loud clunk that echoed around the ground. The protector must have done its job though, because the fielder hardly appeared to suffer any discomfort.
A thick edge from Stirling brought up the 50 partnership, and soon the admittedly modest follow-on target was exceeded. Van der Merwe replaced Bess, and was soon despatched for a huge 6 over mid wicket by Malan. Shortly afterwards he came down the pitch to Leach and clubbed him on the full for another 6. However the bowler had the last laugh, trapping him LBW for 38. 95/6. Stirling survived being dropped at 1st slip off Van der Merwe, but was given out stumped for 41 off Leach shortly afterwards. He didn't look happy, and from where I was sitting his back foot appeared planted in the crease and had not visibly left the ground. 100/7 and the end of what had been a fine counter-attacking innings.
Harris was soon off the mark with an aerial pull shot to the mid wicket boundary off Van der Merwe. It seemed to hang in the air for an eternity, but the gap in the field was huge enough for it to be a completely safe stroke. He soon followed that with a flat 6 over the shorter mid wicket boundary off Leach who had bowled unchanged at the other end since the start. Off the final ball of the same over, he cleared the same boundary again, this time only just eluding the man on the fence. Finn (1) was next to fall, struck on the boot by Van der Merwe. 117/8.
Lunch was taken with Middlesex having progressed to 127/8, not an ideal position, but better than most of us were expecting at 22/5. Somerset surprised us by opening after the resumption with Craig Overton, who struck in his first over, Harris (19) losing his middle stump. 128/9. Murtagh briefly entertained us, including sending Leach to the boundary with a glorious cover drive, but was left stranded on 14 when Patel (0) was taken by Van der Merwe at cover off Overton to close the Middlesex innings on 142, leaving Somerset with a lead of 94.
It was Murtagh and perhaps surprisingly, Stirling who opened the bowling for Middlesex. Somerset made pedestrian if fairly untroubled progress, and it was somewhat out of the blue when Byrom (5) played a horrible shot off Stirling and was caught by Harris at mid on. 20/1.
Ravi Patel replaced Stirling and struck with just his 2nd ball, Bartlett (5) trapped LBW. 26/2.
With the combination of hazy sunshine and a turning pitch, someone commented that the place had taken on something of a Subcontinental feel. Not so much Hyderabad as Ciderabad!
However things began to go quiet, and Trescothick, playing beautifully and ably supported by Hildreth began to move things along. He was looking genuinely comfortable until rather unluckily pinned LBW by Harris for 31 to one that kept low. 59/3. That delivery will not have filled those required to bat last with confidence.
By Tea Somerset had reached 70/3, a strong but not entirely safe position.
After Tea, however, the pitch, the focus of so much controversy almost seemed to be conscious of the presence of the ECB pitch inspectors. There appeared to be none of the demons present on Day 1, and seemed to be becoming easier to bat on. It certainly wasn't the case that Middlesex bowled poorly, but a wicket seldom looked likely to fall. Runs were hard to come by, but Hildreth and Abell were in no hurry. Abell took Somerset past the 150 mark with a huge 6 off Voges, but that was simply taking advantage of a rare gift ball.
Surviving a huge appeal for LBW against Abell off Stirling off the last ball of the day, Somerset finished on 159/3, with Abell on 34* and Hildreth a magnificent and highly disciplined 82*. Somerset's lead looks insurmountable, but with the pitch now looking far from the minefield that was reported as a result of how it played on Day 1, and the likelihood of afternoon rain on Day 3, perhaps even a draw is starting to become a possibility.
A decision about any points deduction for Somerset has been deferred until after the game has finished. Perhaps it's a sensible move to see how it plays over the course of an entire game, or maybe with Hampshire in trouble against Warwickshire, the ECB is waiting to see how many points might have to be deducted in order to reprieve their pet county from relegation again.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:10:02:10:01:12 by Leprechaun.