Despite their star batsman Tom Abell making his first-class debut with Somerset, Taunton Cricket Club kept up their pursuit of league leaders Midsomer Norton with a win last Saturday thanks to an excellent all-round display from skipper Jack Cooper.
Many of Taunton’s players had spent the previous day watching Tom fielding for Somerset against Warwickshire at the County Ground.
The club has long tipped Tom for greater honours and knew it was only a matter of time before he made the step up to county cricket.
So, it was no surprise that even during their must-win match with Bedminster on Saturday they kept one eye on Twitter to see how Tom was doing, willing their man on during his fantastic innings of 95.
Taunton bowler George Cook tweeted:
Taunton started the game at The Clanage in the Bristol and Somerset Division of the West of England Premier League, 24 points behind leaders Midsomer Norton.
They restricted Bedminster to 174 all out in 48.3 overs, although that was something of a recovery after Cook removed the top three with only 30 runs on the board.
The hosts slipped further to 62-5 before David Phillips – with 56 off 71 balls with seven fours and a six – and 27 from Chris McCormack dragged their side back into contention.
Cook finished with figures of 3-35 in nine overs, while Jack Cooper, who took the last two wickets to fall, returned superb figures of 3-13 off 8.3 overs, as well as effecting a run out. There were also two wickets for spinner Ben Orr.
Taunton lost two early wickets themselves, and were 23-2 at one stage before a 72-run partnership for the third wicket from Cooper and George Webber put them back on track.
When Webber fell for 39 with the score on 95-3, Cooper saw his side home with 8.3 overs to spare. He finished with an unbeaten 69 off 100 balls with nine fours and a six.
This was Taunton’s tenth win of the season and means they remain in second place, now 22 points behind Norton after inflicting the first defeat on the league leaders the previous weekend. They now face third-place Brislington at home today (Saturday).
The club tweeted:
Meanwhile Midsomer Norton won a thriller by just three wickets over ninth-placed Wembdon off the penultimate ball of the match last Saturday.
Former Somerset all-rounder Ian Blackwell was in the action with bat and ball for Wembdon in the match at Withies Lane.
The visitors batted first and were soon in trouble at 18-2, but 65 from opener Rich Gower and 24 from Blackwell rebuilt the innings.
Once Blackwell was out though, Wembdon suffered a mid-order collapse and a position of 134-8 looked fatal for their chances.
However, a brilliant tailend partnership from worth 86 for the ninth wicket from Brendan Pope (40*) and Tim Bennett (36*) saw their visitors finish their 50 overs on 220-8.
In reply, a 73-run partnership from Martin Cox and Alex Lear set Norton on their way, but when Lear was out for 38, Norton lost 4 wickets for 76 runs, as Blackwell returned superb figures of 10-3-13-2.
At 162-5, Norton skipper Nick Potter joined Cox and the pair shared a stand worth 51 runs to take their side to the brink of victory.
However Wembdon didn’t give up, removing Cox eight runs short of what would have been a deserved century. He made made 92 off 121 balls (10 fours and one six).
Norton were 213-6, needing just eight more to win but lost a further wicket with the score on 219, leaving Potter and Sam Gould to see their side home with just one ball to spare.
The result means Wembdon remain in the relegation zone in ninth place, 11 points behind eighth-placed Frenchay who now also face Norton in a match at home today (Saturday).
Norton know that two more wins in their remaining games will guarantee them promotion, but a slip in either game could yet let Taunton through.
Brislington, current home of former Somerset batsman Richard Ollis, regained their third place position after beating basement club Chew Magna last Saturday.
Chew Magna batted first and made 214-9 in their 50 overs, extras top scoring with 48 as Brislington conceded an incredible 32 wides. Stuart Watson made 41.
In reply, Brislington reached their target with 1.3 overs to spare, despite a couple of late wickets from all-rounder David Lawrence which caused a couple of anxious moments. However Ollis – with an unbeaten 54 at almost a run-a-ball with nine fours – and Paul Hamblin saw their side home. Earlier skipper Chris Munden made 51 and opener and keeper William Ollis made 45 before being run out.
With two games remaining, Brislington now lie just four points clear of Old Bristolians Westbury CC in third place, but are a long way short of second-place Taunton who are 49 points above them.
Next round of matches: Saturday 23 August:
(current league positions in brackets)
Taunton (2) v Brislington (3)
Frenchay (8) v Midsomer Norton (1)
Links: Bedminster CC v Taunton CC – http://taunton.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11848020
Brislington CC v Chew Magna CC – http://brislington.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11848026
Midsomer Norton CC v Wembdon CC – http://midsomernorton.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11848068
West of England Premier Cricket League Bristol Somerset Division league table after 16 games: http://midsomernorton.play-cricket.com/league_table?id=405&season_id=72
Premier Two: With two matches to play, leaders Ilminster look favourites for promotion. Second place Clevedon (Andy Caddick’s current team) are in line for the second promotion spot, but have Potterne and Keynsham hot on their heels. Meanwhile, Minehead and Glasbtonbury look set for relegation, although Chard are still not out of the woods: http://clevedon.play-cricket.com/league_table?id=403&season_id=72
Bristol and North Somerset Division: Lansdown are well out in front, some 31 points ahead of second place Winterbourne and favourites to take the sole promotion spot. Timsbury occupy tenth place and are candidates for the one relegation spot, although Bristol YMCA CC are only three points above them: http://westofengland.play-cricket.com/league_table?id=407&season_id=72