Somerset’s Tom Abell scored a half century as Taunton inflicted the season’s first defeat on runaway league leaders Midsomer Norton at Gipsy Lane on Saturday.
The win for second placed Taunton sets up an intriguing run-in to the season’s end with only one promotion spot available.
Taunton opening bowlers Harry Popplewell and George Cook set up Saturday’s victory with a hostile opening spell which saw Norton reeling at 29-5 and later 67-7. Both men picked up three wickets a piece.
Norton were completely indebted to their number 8 Jon Harvey who hit an unbeaten 66 to ensure his side posted some kind of total. The visitors eventually ended their 50 overs on 164-9.
Popplewell, who dismissed numbers 2, 3 and 4 in the Norton batting order finished with superb figures of 10-3-22-3, while Cook took 3-37 in his 10 overs. There were also two wickets for 25 for skipper Jack Cooper, who must have been pleased with his decision to insert the opposition on winning the toss.
In reply, Taunton started strongly, with Abell with 64 and Chris Davenport (35) sharing an opening stand of 99. It was Abell’s sixth score of 50 or more in nine innings for Taunton this summer and comes on top of his two recent centuries for Somerset Second XI.
When Abell was trapped lbw, the first of two wickets for Alex Davis, Taunton were almost home at 135-2. It was left to Hugh Kelly to see his side over the finishing line with an unbeaten 29. Despite two late consolatory wickets for Norton, Taunton won by the comfortable margin of six wickets with almost 20 overs to spare.
The win, Taunton’s ninth win of the season, means they have closed the gap on Norton in the West of England Premier Cricket League Bristol and Somerset Division from 39 points down to 24.
After the game, Taunton vice-captain Ben Orr paid spoke to the Cricket World website and paid tribute to the tough brand of cricket being played by his side and the excellent wickets prepared by groundsman Rob Hake.
Of Harry Popplewell and George Cook, Orr commented: “Pops & George were superb, to have the unbeaten (at the time) league leaders in the trouble they did was fantastic.
“Harry spent some time bowling at the New Zealand A players at the County Ground (in Taunton) this week and clearly had his tail up after that experience, clean bowling the league’s second top scorer after having had him dropped the ball before has got to be a season highlight for me.”
Orr also paid tribute to Tom Abell: “Tom & Chris got us off to the perfect start, with almost another 100 opening stand from the two of them, they have both been fantastic this season.
“No surprise though that Tabes was in blistering form after yet another Somerset 2nd XI century in the week. We all just sit in awe watching Tom bat, soaking up every moment before the inevitable county first team call up arrives.”
Midsomer Norton sit at the top of the table with 235 points, Taunton currently have 211, while Bedminster move up to third with 171.
Brislington, current home of former Somerset batsman Richard Ollis, who were in third place last week, slipped back to fifth after defeat to Bishopston.
This coming Saturday Midsomer Norton play ninth place Wembdon at home, while Taunton have a much tougher test away to Bedminster.
Of the run-in to the end of the season, Ben Orr told Cricket World: “We know having been so badly affected by the weather early season our destiny is still just out of our hands, having said that all we need to do is keep our winning streak going and control our performances. Results elsewhere will be as they will be.
“To be well clear in second with three games to go after the past couple of seasons is a real boost to the club, and we will be doing our very best to ensure the league title is not decided until the final game of the summer!”
We’ll keep you up to date with the results here on The InCider next week.
Links: Taunton CC v Midsomer Norton CC –
West of England Premier Cricket League Bristol Somerset Division league table after 15 games: