Somerset 264 for 9 dec (Compton 94, Hildreth 53) and 203 for 4 (Compton 83*, Hildreth 60) drew with Middlesex 338 (Malan 124, Gubbins 56, Stirling 56, Overton 4-84) and 315 for 5 dec (Gubbins 95, Morgan 62, Stirling 60)
Middlesex 11pts, Somerset 10pts
Nick Compton starred with the bat again for Somerset on day 4 of the game against his former county but his current team had to settle for a draw having been set 390 in just over two sessions by home captain Chris Rogers to win the game. Compo scored an unbeaten 83 and was at the crease with Alex Barrow (19*) when the two captain’s shook hands for a draw at 5pm with the cider county on 203 for 4.
Compo, who also scored 94 off 278 balls in the first innings in rather laborious fashion, had taken the attack to the Middlesex bowlers in this second innings to force the pace but it was always a tall order and it could be argued that Rogers’ declaration could have come earlier. Rogers himself admitted after that he had one mind on Notts chasing down 385 earlier in the season when he said: “Maybe we could have pulled out a bit earlier but we had a bad loss a few weeks ago and that was in the back of our minds,”
He added. “But we are still in the chasing group, we’ve got Yorkshire next week and if we can beat them we will be right up there. That is a big game for us.”
In defence of Rogers it could be argued that Somerset’s cautious batting at times showed little ambition of a positive result despite Marcus Trescothick declaring the first innings 74 runs behind on the third evening. But with Craig Kieswetter missing due to a family bereavement Somerset’s firepower was ultimately reduced and, with the pitch disintegrating too, so were the chances of maintaining an assault of over five runs per over to win this game.
That task was made harder when Tres was departed early in Somerset’s 2nd innings, edging one to Morgan from Murtagh for 11 with the total on 12.
Chris Jones and Compton steadied the ship for an hour but then Toby Roland-Jones made things a tad interesting when, in the space of 11 deliveries, he had Jones well taken at second slip before removing Alviro Petersen too and Somerset were 61 for 3.
Another wicket then might have made it ‘game on’ but Hildy joined Compo and their stand of 93 settled things before the former was out to Ravi Patel and Somerset were 154 for 4.
Compton, though, looked comfortable throughout and by the time the draw was agreed there were 15 overs unused.
Both Middlesex and Somerset remain in title contention but a win for either side here would have been more than very useful in the quest for silverware. Somerset are in third, and have both their games against Northamptonshire to play, while Middlesex go to Scarborough next week to play Yorkshire.
After the game Marcus said he “understood” Chris Rogers decision not to declare too early. “They know this ground and realise how flat the pitch gets.
“We tried to get through the new ball and wanted to build partnerships but we lost wickets early. But it was always going to be a tough chase.”
He added: “We needed to hang in until tea time to see what sort of a position we were in but we lost three wickets in the first 23 overs which always made it a little bit tricky to go for the total so it wasn’t going to be possible and was always too many runs.”
BBC Somerset’s Anthony Gibson:
“In mid-afternoon, with Nick Compton and James Hildreth in full flight, there was just a suggestion that Somerset might have a crack at the unlikely target of 390 in 72 overs that they had been set by an evidently risk-averse Middlesex captain Chris Rogers.
“But that disappeared when Hildreth was caught on the boundary for a typically fluent 60, leaving Nick Compton and Alex Barrow to see Somerset through to the draw which had always seemed the likeliest outcome.
“Overall, it was a curate’s egg of a performance by Somerset – good in parts, distinctly whiffy in others – and they’ll not be too displeased to have come away with a draw.”