Somerset seal survival on dramatic final day

Jack Leach went past 50 Specsavers County Championship wickets for the season as Somerset achieved First Division survival with a comprehensive 231-run win over Middlesex at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Leach finished with five for 57 as Middlesex were bowled out for 113 on the final day from an overnight 40 for three, chasing a highly improbable 345 for victory.

Roelof van der Merwe weighed in with four for 22 and Somerset took 20 points to leapfrog Middlesex, who claimed just three, in the First Division table.

Stevie Eskinazi was first to go. Having made 16 he pushed forward to van der Merwe and edged to the kneeling Marcus Trescothick at second slip.

The score had moved to 71 when Adam Voges played forward to Leach and edged a comfortable catch to Craig Overton at first slip.

The left-arm spinner brought up his 50 wickets when John Simpson, who had looked to counter-attack with two fours and six, fell leg-before for 19.

On a pitch that has turned throughout, van der Merwe proved an excellent selection by Somerset as third spinner. He had Paul Stirling snapped up by Overton at slip to make the score 80 for seven. The all-rounder quickly followed up as James Harris top-edged a sweep and departed for 13. At 93 for eight, home supporters prepared to celebrate.

Tim Murtagh lofted a six over mid-wicket off van der Merwe before being bowled in the same over and when Leach had an lbw appeal against Steven Finn upheld by umpire Mike Burns it sparked wild celebrations from the Somerset team.

It was a satisfying end to his time as Somerset director of cricket for Matt Maynard.

Afterwards a clearly delighted Tom Abell said: “It’s a very special feeling to have won and be staying in the top division, although we are not at the end of the table that we would like.

“Halfway through the season we had to re-assess our goals and, given where we were four games ago, I think it’s an amazing effort by everyone involved to have got out of the position that we were in. To still be in division one is testament to how we have gone about things in the last few games.

“I couldn’t have asked for anymore as a captain. The effort has been there throughout the season although our skills weren’t up to it in the first part and that put us into the position we found ourselves in.

“There is an overriding feeling of elation and it’s the best day of my cricketing career. I am just absolutely delighted for everyone. It has been a tough season and we have felt it as a dressing room, so to finish the way we have is something very special.”

Regarding the reception the team received from the large crowd as they did a lap of honour the skipper said: “It’s a very special moment and took me back to this time last year. We have already felt that support especially when we have been right down at the bottom of the table and not playing well, so it’s great to show our appreciation like this today.”

Tom added: “We were talking this morning and there is no better feeling than to come out on the right side of the result. We talk about the family feeling that there is here and it’s on days like these that it really comes to the fore.”

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Next MatchSomerset V Derbyshire Falcons

09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground