Match Zone: Surrey (H) in Specsavers CC (28-31 May)

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Somerset host Surrey at the Cooper Associates County Ground after six consecutive draws hoping for a win that will keep the visitors rooted to the bottom of the Specsavers County Championship Division One table. Somerset are sixth, some 16 points ahead, so a victory could see Somerset pull nearly 30 points clear of bottom spot.

Surrey have lost three and drawn three, including a draw against Somerset in the second game of the season at The Oval. The home team appeared to have the upper hand in that match scoring 463 all out before reducing Somerset to 353 all out then declaring on 181-8 to set the visitors 292 to win. Somerset had a bit of a wobble on 62-4 before Hildreth (40*) and Trego (34*) steadied the ship and the game finished on 122-4.

In their last three games Surrey have lost to Yorkshire and Lancashire by an innings defeat whilst also drawing with Middlesex. Somerset have drawn with Middlesex, Yorkshire and Warwickshire.

Table 28th May

Somerset name the same 13-man squad that travelled to London and will most likely bring Jamie Overton back into the 1st XI for this game. Overton had arguably his best game for Somerset against the champions Yorkshire bowling fast yet tidy but was asked to sit things out at Lords, so he will be straining at the leash to do well. His brother Craig should join him in the side meaning Lewis Gregory or Tim Groenewald will enjoy drinks duties as part of Matt Maynard’s rotation policy.

Somerset squad: C Rogers (c), M Trescothick, T Abell, J Hildreth, J Myburgh, J Allenby, P Trego, R Davies (w), T Groenewald, L Gregory, J Overton, C Overton, J Leach.

For many Somerset fans this is a grudge match, arguably more than the games against Gloucestershire, so the players will need to put on a performance to beat the south Londoners. Despite their lowly position Surrey can still name a strong starting XI.

Ahead of the game skipper Chris Rogers told the official website: “Surrey haven’t put in their best performances of late but we saw what they are capable of at the beginning of the season when we played at the Oval. They have got some very good players so we know we have to be right on our game and I’d like to see us catch a little bit better.

He added: “Whatever happens with the pitch I think we need to make sure that we play four good days of cricket and if we do that then hopefully we can put all the pressure on them.”

The game’s scorecard on ESPN Cricinfo here

Umpires: Jeff Evans & Billy Taylor

Day 1

Morning: Somerset left out Lewis Gregory and Johan Myburgh from the squad so the starting XI was the same as played at Lords with Jamie Overton the only change. Surrey won the toss and elected to bat.

  • The away team fairly flew out of the blocks scoring 20 in the first 2 overs but after 17 balls Cove enticed Burns (14) into an edge to the reliable Tres in the slips. 26-1
  • Sangakkara joined Harinath and was given a lifeline on 16 when he edged Jove to Allenby at first slip but the easy chance was spilled. The two looked at ease until Harinath (32) edged one off Allenby and it was the safe hands of Tres again. 70-2.
  • Ireland’s Gary Wilson came and went quickly and was Allenby’s second wicket when he left one and was plumb lbw and Surrey were 90-3.
  • Surrey reached the lunch interval with Sangakkara not out 45and their total 111-3. Jim Allenby’s figures 2 for 23.

Afternoon: There was hardly any time to take your seat when Somerset were celebrating again when Sangakkara was out caught & bowled by Groenewald and now it was 111-4.

  • Steven Davies, who always seems to score well against Somerset, was joined by Zafar Ansari and the two steadied things and took their team to the brink of a first batting point. But Jack Leach snared Davies lbw for 49 with Surrey 196-5.
  • Leachy was bowling well and he struck again in the last over before tea when Ansari handed Tres his third catch of the day. He scored 37 and Surrey were 201-6.

Evening: With only the second ball after tea Leach struck again when Tom Curran edged one to Allenby who made no mistake this time. He didn’t trouble the scorers and it was 201-7 and Somerset making all the play.

  • Just 8 balls later 201-5 had become 201-8 when the ever-so-popular Surrey skipper Gareth Batty was lbw Leach 0. The Somerset fans gave him an emotional send off as he trudged back to the changing room. At this stage Leach had 4 for 19 from 11.2 overs.
  • Foakes joined Pillans and they stopped the flow of wickets. But the thunder and rain came about 5pm and it stayed so that was it for the day. Surrey 236-8 with Foakes 17* & Pillans 22* after 81 overs.

Day 2

Morning: Just 7 overs were bowled when the home team picked up the first wicket of the day when Craig Overton bowled Foakes for a decent 31. Surrey 255-9.

  • Just 9 more runs were added when Groeners wrapped things up when he encouraged Meaker to edge to Cove at gully and it was 264 all out. Leach took 4 for 34 and there were two wickets each for Cove, Groeners and Allenby. Somerset feeling confident at this stage.
  • And things started well with Tres and Tabes seeing the reply to just under the half century when the confident looking Tom was lbw Meaker for 25 and it was 46-1.
  • Tres followed 5 balls later when Batty got him, also lbw for 12. And 8 balls after that the normally reliable Hildreth was bowled Meaker for 5 and 46-0 had become 53-3.
  • Somerset reached the lunch interval 61-3 with Rogers 8* and Allenby 2*

Afternoon: 20 runs were added in about 5 overs when captain Rogers became Batty’s second victim, caught by Pillans. 73-4.

  • Trego had scored six consecutive 50s coming into this match and he helped Allenby take the score to 89-4. But the game changed in 3 balls when Trego went lbw Batty 12 and Cove came and went in 2 balls for 0, caught Burns b Batty having been dropped by the same player first ball!! 89-6 and big trouble for Somerset.
  • Ryan Davies has struggled with the bat and this poor form continued when he was c Meaker b Batty 4 and the home team 93-7. Allenby went 3 runs later c Sangakkara b Meaker 9 and it was 96-8. Would Somerset get to three figures in this innings? That looked unlikely when Leach was bowled Batty for 1 and it was 97-9.
  • Batty had bowled superbly and it was he who took the final wicket when he bowled Jove for 1 and Somerset were all out for a disappointing 102. No follow-on enforced by Surrey so they will began their 2nd innings 162 ahead.
  • Batty finished with 7 for 32 and Meaker 3 for 39.
  • But the flurry of wickets didn’t end there as Surrey were now on the receiving end and would lose four wickets before tea.
  • First Harinath (13) edged Cove to Tres at slip (17-1) and soon after Leach clean bowled Burns (8) with Surrey 25-2.
  • 2 runs later Sangakkara (3) was brilliantly caught by Davies off Craig Overton and Surrey are 27-3! Leachy would strike again when he had Davies caught Hildreth for just 7 and it was 38-4. At the tea interval Surrey were 43-4 with a lead of 205.

Evening: Jamie Overton got into the act straight after tea when he bowled Wilson with a beauty for just 11. 44-5 now and game on!

  • 7 runs later and it was 51-6. Leach got Curran caught in the slips, just as he did in the 1st innings, for 5.
  • Ansari would again be Surrey’s calming influence as he scored 26* alongside Foakes (14*) and the day ended with Surrey 94-6.
  • Leach claimed 3 for 37 after taking four in the 1st
  • So the away team go into day three with a handsome lead of 256 and four second-innings wickets in hand. It was an incredible day when 18 wickets fell, which will no doubt lead to some intervention by the ECB. Have Surrey already scored enough to claim a first win of the season? Watch this space!

Day 3

Morning: It took Jack Leach just three balls to add to his wicket haul when he had Foakes caught by Rogers and Surrey were languishing at 94-7. This would set up a marvellous day’s play for the Bank Holiday crowd in the sunshine.

  • The pantomime villain, Gareth Batty, came to the crease and he added 23 with Ansari before the Surrey skipper became Jamie Overton’s second victim of the innings when he was bowled for 17. Mathew Pillans lasted just 3 balls ebfore Jamie bowled him too and suddenly it was 117-9.
  • With the score on 138 it was all over for Surrey when Jove had Ansari caught behind for 38. Somerset need 301 to gain a first win of the season.
  • It was an excellent spell from Jamie Overton, who ended with 4-18 from 11.1 overs! Jack Leach also took 4-63 from 31 overs.
  • Tom Abell and Marcus Trescothick opened for Somerset and looked comfortable with the veteran dominating. As in the first innings Tabes (7) was out with the total on 46 to give Surrey some success before lunch.
  • Somerset entered the interval at 51-1, needing another 249 runs to win the match

Afternoon: Tres managed to pass 50 in just 57 balls soon after he passed 24,000 first class runs. He was leading the run chase magnificently.

  • But things were set to turn in this game. First Trescothick was caught behind off Meaker for 56 and Hildreth lasted only two balls when he fell to the same combination and 92-1 became 92-3.
  • Rogers and Allenby took the score passed 100 but the Somerset skipper fell lbw to Curran for 28 and things were evenly balanced with Somerset are 127-4 needing 174 to win. Advantage Surrey at this stage.
  • Trego has been in good form in the Championship although he only scored 12 in the first innings. He and Allenby took things to tea where Somerset landed 170-4 needing 131 to win. It was all set for an intriguing final session.

Evening: Tregs and Allenby continued the run charge talking the total passed 200 with a partnership of 80. With the score on 207 Tregs fell lbw Batty for the second time in the game. 207-5 needing 94 to win.

  • Craig Overton scored 8 runs in 8 balls but was caught behind off Batty making the score 219-6 and the game swung in Surrey’s favour. Just 6 runs later Allenby fell lbw Meaker for a brave 56 but at 225-7 the game looked lost. It would take a brave effort from someone now.
  • Ryan Davies has copped some stick for his poor batting so far for Somerset and there would be no happy response in this game. He became Batty’s third victim in this innings and tenth in the match when he was lbw 5. 237-8 now.
  • Jove was joined by Jack Leach and they took the score passed 250 with less than 50 needed. Every run was being cheered. Jamie hit Batty for back-to-back boundaries then smashed Meaker into the Andy Caddick Pavilion leaving just 33 to get. But with the score on 270 Jove fell to a brilliant diving catch by Foakes off Meaker. He has scored a commendable 29 runs in the chase. 31 runs needed by Somerset’s last two batsmen.
  • It was tense stuff. Leach and Groenewald pushed and prodded but batted sensibly to ease the crowd’s nerves. There was one big call for lbw off Batty with the score 298-9 but the umpire said no to the relief of the Somerset fans.
  • With the scores level Groenewald pushed a single off Pillans to the delight of the home crowd. Somerset finished 301-9 with Leach 24* &  Groeners 18*

Result

  • Somerset (19 points) beat Surrey (5) by one wicket.

Somerset hero Jack Leach said: “It was the best game of cricket I have ever played in. There were so many twists and turns. The crowd were unbelievable when Tim Groenewald and I were batting together. As the ball was about to be bowled there would be a ‘sssshhhh’ and you could almost hear the silence. Then when we played a shot the noise would erupt.”

“It was such an important result for us. The tension was almost unbearable as we chipped away the runs, but we were not tempted to go for big shots because the way we were playing was working”