Report: Somerset v Warwickshire, Specsavers County Championship

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Day Three

Jack Leach finished with six for 42 as Somerset completed a 32-run Specsavers County Championship victory over Warwickshire on the third morning at Taunton.

Resuming on 131 for eight, needing a further 53 to win, the visitors battled for 14 overs before being bowled out for 152, Rikki Clarke ending unbeaten on 55.

Lewis Gregory was the other wicket-taker as Somerset took 19 points to boost their hopes of a first ever Championship title. Warwickshire had to be content with three and face a fight against relegation with only one game remaining.

The first half hour saw Clarke and Chris Wright carefully build on their ninth-wicket stand against the spin of Leach and Roelof van der Merwe.

Clarke reached his half-century off 138 balls, with 8 fours and a six, and the pair had reduced the deficit to 37, with the stand worth 86, when an inspired piece of captaincy by Chris Rogers brought the breakthrough.

He introduced Lewis Gregory from the River End and, with his fourth delivery, the seamer had Wright caught behind for 45.

When Clarke took a single of Leach’s third ball of the 58th over, Somerset moved in for the kill, surrounding last man Josh Poysden with close fielders.

The tail-ender got an inside edge and Marcus Trescothick ended the game with the 394th first class catch of his Somerset career, at leg-gully, breaking a club record set by Jack White, whose career ended in 1937.

The wicket sparked jubilant celebrations on the pitch and the home side could celebrate an unlikely win after being bowled out for 95 on the first morning.

Day Two

Rikki Clarke and Chris Wright produced an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 70 as Warwickshire set up the prospect of an exciting third-day finish to the Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.

The visitors closed day two on 131 for eight, needing a further 53 for victory, having been 61 for eight at one stage, chasing a target of 184. Left-arm spinner Jack Leach claimed five for 33 from 18 overs.

Clarke was unbeaten on 42 and Wright 38 not out, having come together with their team on the verge of defeat. Both hit sixes in a defiant and positive partnership.

Earlier, Jeetan Patel had finished with five for 86 as Somerset, from an overnight 41 for one, were bowled out for 211 in their second innings, skipper Chris Rogers top-scoring with 58, the only half-century of the match so far.

After 21 wickets had fallen on the first day, ECB Cricket Liaison Officer Phil Whitticase was sent to view the second day’s play. But it was batting errors, rather than any great terrors in the pitch, which accounted for the vast majority of wickets.

There was assistance for seam and spin bowlers on both days, but also a large number of soft dismissals, which both sides will reflect on with regret.

Somerset led by 13 runs when play began and had progressed their second innings to 70 when Marcus Trescothick, on 25, had his off stump uprooted by Patel.

James Hildreth made only a single before falling lbw to a Chris Wright delivery that nipped back off the seam. But from 75 for three Somerset prospered, Rogers reaching a 123-ball half-century, and Peter Trego hitting sixes off Patel and Josh Poysden.

The home side looked well placed at lunch, which was taken with their score 128 for three. But Patel began the afternoon session by gaining lbw verdicts against Trego (31) and Rogers after a fourth-wicket stand of 55.

Leg-spinner Josh Poysden weighed in with three for 52 as only Dom Bess (25) offered much lower order resistance. Although the ball was turning, Warwickshire would have fancied their chances when their second innings began.

Instead a mixture of good bowling and inept batting saw them slump to 49 for six, Leach ripped the heart out of the innings by sending back Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell for a combined contribution of five runs before having Alex Mellor caught at short-leg for 22.

Bess removed Sam Hain and Keith Barker, both pouched by Marcus Trescothick, who with the second dismissal equalled the record number of catches in first class cricket by a Somerset outfielder, 393, set by Jack White during a career that ended in 1937.

But just when it seemed Somerset were sure to wrap up victory, Clarke and Wright produced the biggest stand of the match, putting the state of the pitch firmly in perspective.

Day One

Nineteen-year-old Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess marked his Specsavers County Championship debut with six for 28 as 21 wickets fell on the opening day of the match with Warwickshire at Taunton.

The England Under-19 player, from Sidmouth, produced a memorable 16 overs, including the wickets of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell with successive deliveries, as the visitors were bowled out 123, Ian Westwood top-scoring with 34.

That was after Somerset had been skittled for 95, having won the toss, Warwickshire’s pace bowlers doing the damage, with Keith Barker claiming four for 33, Rikki Clarke three for 32 and Chris Wright two for 28.

By the close of an extraordinary day the home side had made 41 for one in their second innings and led by 13. The pitch offered some assistance to spin and seam, without being in any way dangerous. Swing and poor shot selection also contributed to the carnage.

Somerset named three spinners in their side, clearly expecting the ball to turn, but were undone by seam as they were bowled out in 30.1 overs before the end of an extended opening session.

Barker bowled the first 14 overs of the day from the Somerset Pavilion End, sending back Chris Rogers, James Hildreth, Peter Trego and Roelof van der Merwe in an accurate spell that saw him swing the ball and nip it about off the seam.

Wright had set the ball rolling by pinning Marcus Trescothick lbw, while Clarke sent back Lewis Gregory with his first delivery of the match and later accounted for Ryan Davies and Bess.

With Somerset nine wickets down, Warwickshire claimed the extra half hour in the morning session and Jeetan Patel put the home side out of their misery by dismissing Leach with his first ball after a last-wicket stand of 26 with Tim Groenewald, the best of the innings.

Warwickshire reached 62 for one in reply before Bess had Trott caught at leg slip sweeping. The next ball saw Bell hit the ball into a pad and offer up a return catch which the teenager gleefully snaffled.

Westwood fell to a good delivery from Bess that turned and lifted before Leach squeezed a ball between Matthew Lamb’s bat and pad to bowl him for a single.

At tea Warwickshire were 81 for five. Trescothick then produced a brilliant diving catch at second slip off Groenewald to dismiss Sam Hain for nine.

Barker and Clarke fell to shots they will not want to remember as Bess, who bowled at just the right pace and trajectory to extract maximum turn, added to his tally.

Patel was his sixth victim courtesy of another injudicious stroke and Leach wrapped up the innings by clean bowling Wright.

Bess led his side off, showing the ball to all sides of the ground, as relieved home supporters gave him a warm ovation.

There was still time for Tom Abell to fall lbw to Josh Poysden for 15 with Somerset’s second innings total on 31.

The experienced duo of Trescothick and Rogers had five more overs to negotiate and did so thanks to Poysden dropping Rogers on five at fine leg off a top-edged pull, Barker being the unlucky bowler.

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