There are some that will reflect back on Somerset’s win against Notts as a hard-fought victory, and whilst the side showed huge amounts of resilience, energy, character and ability, I think to describe the win as such to be a little misleading and unfair. That could be to suggest that Somerset scraped home, pulled one out of the bag, got lucky. But that is not so, Somerset beat their hugely talented and highly experienced opposition by 6 wickets with over one hour of scheduled play left in reserve. That – whichever way you look at it – is a comfortable win of some distance.
It would be true to say things became a little topsy-turvy towards the end of day three as Notts battled valiantly to get back into the game; at times it even looked like the pendulum was swinging their way, but Somerset won key periods of this game and after the first two days had given the away team a huge mountain to climb.
But our boys did have to dig in at times. Luke Fletcher is a canny bowler and he was beating the bat of Matt Renshaw and Eddie Byrom fairly regularly on the first morning. But the batters kept control and concentration. It was fairly obvious – to me anyway – that the team were working to a game plan not to recklessly chase batting points but to score enough runs to take control of the game. It may have been slow at times but it was effective as the scoreboard ticked over. And they kept the momentum flowing even in the few periods when wickets were falling; when 117-1 became 127-3, for instance. 392 was a competitive score to defend.
On day two it was a simply a joy to watch two of our (still) young guns put the Notts batters to the sword – reducing the league leaders to 28-5 then 68-7 – as Cove and Lewis bowled magnificently, buoyed by the loud encouragement of their team-mates. A first innings lead of 258 was always going to be a challenge for the away team.
It is a positive reflection on our squad that, even with so many key players on the sidelines, there are still options for Jason Kerr in his team selection. Some – like me – would have chosen Peter Trego after his valiant efforts in the 50-over competition, but the head coach opted for Josh Davey and Roleof van der Merwe. And they took four wickets each as Somerset’s bowlers battled away even when the runs flowed. A target of 248 to win the game was always achievable for us and was exceeded with consummate ease in the end. A great win for Somerset that takes us to the top of the table, albeit by one point over Surrey. But to employ a well-used adage, we would not have won that game 12 months ago. This is a reflection on how well run the team is.
And that includes on the field. Let us pay tribute to the captain. A far better writer than me commented in his post-match report of the huge transformation in Tom Abell one year after that writer was last at Taunton. Tom was again magnificent, scoring 103 runs and leading the team with energy. His decision to enforce the follow-on was absolutely the right one. He is developing all the time.
So a big game at Surrey in Guildford starting next Wednesday awaits, another top versus second encounter. Some are already saying this is a season defining game. You can bet one thing and that is Somerset will have a game plan and be prepared. Sarge and Jase will not let the team get carried away with being top and will treat this game on its merits.
But Somerset are perennial slow-starters in the County Championship and it could be said that we are only warming up at the moment. Now there’s a thought! #DareToDream