Somerset secure famous victory!
Jack Leach was the hero as Somerset pulled off a nerve-tingling one-wicket Specsavers County Championship victory over Surrey at Taunton.
Set 301 to win, the home side still required 31 when last man Tim Groenewald marched out to join Leach, who had match figures of eight for 97 with his left-arm spin.
Together they chipped away at Surrey’s lead and number ten Leach was unbeaten on 24 when Groenewald (18 not out) cover drove the winning runs off Matthew Pillans.
Gareth Batty claimed his 600th first class wicket for the visitors in taking three for 83 and finished with match figures of ten for 115. But it wasn’t enough.
Somerset took 19 points from the game and Surrey, who controlled most of it after bowling their opponents out for 102 in the first innnings, had to settle for just three.
The visitors began the day by extending their second innings score from 94 for six to 138 all out. Zafar Ansari contributed 38. The day began and ended well for Leach, who removed Ben Foakes in the first over of the morning, caught at short cover off a leading edge. Jamie Overton then wrapped up the Surrey innings by dismissing Batty, Pillans and Ansari, who was last man out, having battled away for 129 balls.
Marcus Trescothick and Tom Abell took the Somerset second innings to 46 before the latter was caught behind off a decent delivery from Tom Curran. It was 52 for one at lunch, with Trescothick and skipper Chris Rogers shouldering major responsibility for Somerset hopes. They took the score to 92 before Trescothick was caught behind off Meaker, having reached his half-century off 57 balls, with 6 fours.
On 45, the former England opener reached the 24,000 run landmark. His departure was followed quickly by that of James Hildreth for a second ball duck, offering a third catch to wicketkeeper Foakes off a ball he could have left. Rogers fell on 28, lbw to Curran, bowling around the wicket, but by tea Somerset had progressed to 170 for four, with Allenby and Trego going well.
When 37 more runs were added home supporters were in confident mood. But Trego then departed lbw pushing forward to Batty and three more wickets followed in rapid succession.
Craig Overton and Davies fell to Batty, while Allenby was judged lbw trying to work Meaker into the leg side. His half-century had occupied 91 balls and featured 3 fours.
Jamie Overton raised Somerset hopes with a quick-fire 29, including a pulled six off Meaker, before falling to a brilliant catch by Foakes, diving to his left, off the same bowler.
Somerset still required 31. Last pair Leach and Tim Groenewald knocked off 18 of them before the extra half hour was claimed.
With spectators on the edge of their seats, the deficit continued to decrease. With three runs needed, Leach survived a huge appeal for lbw by Batty.
Finally, Groenewald put Somerset fans out of their misery and ended a game that did credit to both teams.
Somerset hero Jack Leach said: “It was the best game of cricket I have ever played in. There were so many twists and turns.
“The crowd were unbelievable when Tim Groenewald and I were batting together. As the ball was about to be bowled there would be a ‘sssshhhh’ and you could almost hear the silence. Then when we played a shot the noise would erupt.”
“It was such an important result for us. The tension was almost unbearable as we chipped away the runs, but we were not tempted to go for big shots because the way we were playing was working”