Somerset bowlers set up grandstand finish


An outstanding performance by Somerset’s bowlers on day three of this LV= Insurance County Championship match against Middlesex has set up a thrilling finale at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Middlesex had reached 44 before losing their first second innings wicket, but from that point onwards the home attack dominated and the visitors were eventually all out for 117, setting Somerset a victory target of 207.

Craig Overton finished with five for 34, whilst Josh Davey took three for 28 and Tom Abell two for 14.

At the start of the day, Somerset could add only 90 to their overnight score of 178 for four, as Steve Finn finished with five for 77. That meant that the home side conceded a first innings lead of 89 runs.

By the close, Somerset were 104 for four, with skipper Tom Abell unbeaten on 43.

Before play began, Somerset were forced to call Jack Brooks into their team as a Covid replacement for Lewis Gregory.

George Bartlett and Lewis Goldsworthy extended their fifth-wicket stand in Somerset’s first innings to 90 before Tom Helm had Goldsworthy caught behind for 39.

Bartlett went to fifty, off 107 balls, with 10 fours, but fell to Helm on 55, nicking a drive to wicketkeeper John Simpson.

Steve Davies was caught at backward point off Finn, who struck again when Davey clipped a leg-side delivery to fine leg where Helm took the catch.

Overton played sensibly for his unbeaten 38, receiving good support from Jack Leach in a ninth-wicket stand of 39.

Finn forced Leach, on 16, to fend a catch to short-leg and Brooks quickly fell to the second new ball, taken by Tim Murtagh.

The afternoon session began with Middlesex 11 without loss. Sam Robson and Max Holden took the score to 44 before a brilliant Tom Banton catch at backward point in Davey’s first over saw Robson depart for 18.

Nick Gubbins was dropped by James Hildreth at first slip in the same over. But soon it was 48 for two as Holden edged Overton through to Steve Davies.

The Somerset wicketkeeper held another catch when Peter Handscombe feathered an Abell outswinger and notched his 600th first class victim when Gubbins chased a wide ball from Davey.

The probing Davey then had Simpson taken at third slip by Abell before Martin Andersson was caught and bowled off a leading edge by Overton.

When Robbie White was pinned lbw on the back foot by Overton, the visitors had lost seven wickets for 38 runs. At tea, they were 85 for seven and led by 174.

Overton struck twice more in the final session for well-deserved match figures of eight for 94 and Somerset looked favourites.

An absorbing match took another twist when Murtagh had Banton caught behind off the first ball of Somerset’s second innings and then trapped Tom Lammonby lbw for nine.

However, Abell and Hildreth prospered in the early evening sunshine, Hildreth looking in prime form until falling to Andersson for 43 after a stand of 78, before nightwatchman Jack Leach departed to the final ball of the day.

At the close, Craig Overton said: “The ball is coming out really nicely for me at the moment. I didn’t get much luck in the first innings when we felt in general that we bowled a bit on the short side.

“The plan for the second innings was to make their batsmen play forward more. I don’t think it is a 117 all out pitch, so we were delighted to bowl them out for that and would certainly have taken the position we are in now at the start of the day.

“It will be a big first hour for us in the morning and a big day in general for our season.”

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19/08/2022 14:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground