Championship Report: Somerset v Warwickshire
Somerset needed just over two hours of the third day to wrap up a 49-run victory over Warwickshire at Taunton and consolidate their position at the top of the Specsavers County Championship.
Sam Hain ended unbeaten on 92 and featured in a last-wicket stand of 49 with Oliver Hannon-Dalby (13) before the visitors were bowled out for 189 in their second innings, Lewis Gregory claiming four for 48
Somerset took 20 points from their third Championship victory in four games, while their opponents had to settle for three and remain anchored at the foot of the First Division table.
Warwickshire began the morning on 103 for six, needing a further 136 to win on a pitch that had assisted the seamers and, to a lesser degree the spinners, throughout the game.
The target never looked reachable as Henry Brookes was caught low down by wicketkeeper Steve Davies for two in the third over of the morning, bowled by Gregory from the River End.
Craig Overton opened from the Somerset Pavilion End. Hain, who had played impressively the previous day, picked up the first boundary of the day with a sweet cover drive.
But it was soon evident that the ball would continue to nip about off the seam. Jeetan Patel joined Hain and got off the mark with a four to third-man off Gregory.
A decent crowd took advantage of the free admission and were treated to the unbroken sunshine of the first two days. But their day looked certain to be a short one when Overton brought one back off the seam to remover Patel’s leg stump with his score on four in only the sixth over.
It was 128 for eight. Hain was dropped on 49 by Davies after getting an inside edge to a ball from Gregory and the resulting single brought up his half-century from 106 deliveries, with 8 fours.
He deserved the slice of luck, having shown the patience and technique to contribute the highest score of the match on such a testing strip.
Liam Norwell drove Overton through mid-off for a boundary. At 132 for eight, Somerset introduced the spin of Jack Leach from the River End, while seamer Tim Groenewald had replaced Overton.
Norwell cover drove Groenewald for four and then survived a tough caught and bowled chance in the same over. When the same batsman took a single to long-off off Leach the target dipped below 100.
But in Groenewald’s next over Norwell edged a back of a length ball through to Davies and departed for 13.
Hain continued unperturbed as Somerset captain Tom Abell introduced himself into the attack in place of Leach, while last man Hannon-Dalby leant equally solid support.
On 84, Hain was given another life when Groenewald misjudged a top-edged hook off Gregory at fine-leg and allowed the ball to drop over his head before bouncing over the rope.
Lunch was delayed by half an hour and it was all over when Hannon-Dalby drove at a wide ball from Gregory and Overton took a sharp catch at gully, giving Somerset the quick victory they were seeking to offer more preparation time ahead of Saturday’s Royal London One-Day Cup final against Hampshire at Lord’s.
Somerset looked on course to strengthen their position at the top of the Specsavers County Championship after more batting carnage on the second day against Warwickshire at Taunton.
Chasing 239 to win, the visitors were staring down the barrel on 103 for six at the close, with the pitch still offering plenty of assistance to the seamers. Sam Hain was unbeaten on 43.
Craig Overton had earlier finished with five for 31 when Warwickshire were bowled out in their first innings for 135.
His effort was then bettered by Liam Norwell, who claimed seven for 41 on debut in a Somerset second innings of 164 all out, to which Overton contributed 36 not out.
Another action-packed day began with Warwickshire 110 for seven in their first innings. Jack Leach struck in the opening over, Tom Abell taking a fine catch above his head at cover to dismiss Jeetan Patel and Overton quickly followed up by trapping Banks lbw for 26.
Norwell and Oliver Hannon-Dalby added 25 for the last wicket, but when Norwell was bowled by Overton shouldering arms Somerset had a more than handy lead of 74.
They struggled to build on it as Norwell produced an inspired spell from the River End, sending back Azhar Ali and James Hildreth for ducks before gaining a leg before verdict against Marcus Trescothick, who was looking threatening on 23.
It was 46 for four when Abell nicked Norwell through to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, who then took a stunning catch of an inside edge to send back George Bartlett and give Henry Brookes a wicket.
The lunch score was 75 for five and the first ball after the interval saw Norwell clean bowl Lewis Gregory. Soon Somerset were in deeper trouble as Steve Davies played a poor shot and edged to Ambrose off Norwell to make it 78 for seven.
Leading by only 152, the home side desperately needed runs from the tail. They came mainly from Overton, who picked the ball to hit with more sense than some of his team-mates.
Josh Davey chipped a catch off his legs to deep square off Hannon-Dalby with the total on 107. Tim Groenewald weighed in with a valuable 17 before falling to Brookes and Leach helped add 25 for the last wicket before becoming Norwell’s seventh victim, giving him match figures of nine for 92.
By tea Warwickshire had struggled to 26 for two, Will Rhodes falling in the first over, caught behind of Gregory for a duck and Rob Yates suffering the same fate, having made eight, off the last ball before the interval.
The final session saw Leach claim the important wicket of Dom Sibley, caught at slip for 26 and Adam Hose complete an unhappy return to his former club by falling lbw to Overton for four.
Liam Banks helped Hain add 29 for the fifth wicket before Abell introduced himself into the attack and gained an lbw verdict in his first over. At 84 for five, Warwickshire still required a further 155.
Tim Ambrose was run out by Bartlett’s direct hit as Hain played the ball to backward point and the pair went for a quick single. It was the last thing his side needed and at stumps they needed a further 136 to win.
Meanwhile, Somerset batsman Tom Banton suffered a back spasm batting in a second XI game and faces a battle to be fit for the Royal London One-Day Cup final against Hampshire on Saturday.
Banton has opened the batting and kept wicket in all the group games, but may now be replaced by the experienced Davies for the Lord’s showpiece.
The game between the top and bottom sides in the First Division looked to be going against the form book when Somerset were bowled out for 209 after an uncontested toss, Oliver Hannon-Darby claiming a career-best five for 18.
But Warwickshire’s batsmen also struggled on a green-tinged pitch, slumping to 79 for five, with Craig Overton taking three of the wickets, before closing on 110 for seven.
Somerset’s total was boosted by 47 extras and the top score by a batsman on either side was the 36 made by the hosts’ number nine Josh Davey.
The tone for the day was set at the end of the second over when Marcus Trescothick, having swished and missed at the previous delivery, edged Hannon-Dalby to Will Rhodes at second slip. The 43-year-old former England opener departed for five and has made only 34 runs in five Championship innings this season.
Somerset adopted something of a cavalier approach, scoring quickly, but losing wickets. James Hildreth was caught at backward-point cutting Henry Brookes and Hannon-Dalby pinned Tom Abell lbw to make it 57 for three.
Liam Norwell marked his Warwickshire debut by bowling Azhar Ali with a full delivery and when George Bartlett was bowled off his midriff trying to pull a ball from Brookes Somerset were 77 for five.
Lewis Gregory contributed 20 before chasing a wide ball from Hannon-Dalby and edging to Liam Banks at second slip. At lunch the home side were 143 for six from just 29 overs.
Overton was bowled by Norwell in the first over after the interval before Steve Davies and Davey put together a stand of 58 to at least earn a single batting point.
Davies had made 23 when falling lbw looking to slog sweep Jeetan Patel, who had found some turn from the River End. Davey followed with the score still on 205, caught at second slip to give Hannon-Dalby his fourth wicket.
Davey had shown up some of the earlier batsmen. When last man Jack Leach was caught at second slip Hannon-Dalby was able to celebrate his third five-for in first class cricket, just reward for 11.2 overs of excellent control from the Somerset Pavilion End.
Warwickshire’s reply had reached 13 when a mix up over a single between Dom Sibley and Rhodes, saw the latter run out by Abell for eight. It was 29 for two in the 11th over when Yates edged Overton through to wicketkeeper Davies.
From 42 for two at tea the visitors slid into trouble as the impressive Overton sent back Sam Hain and Adam Hose, both lbw to inswingers. Hose had made only two against his old club and Warwickshire were 53 for four.
Sibley looked solid in reaching 26, but then fell to a brilliant low diving catch by Overton at gulley, with Tim Groenewald the successful bowler.
Tim Ambrose joined the long list of batting casualties when bowled off an inside edge by Gregory and Brookes fell to Leach in the final over.
Banks stayed defiant on 26 not out, but at stumps Warwickshire trailed by 99. Overton had figures of three for 25 from 12 overs of sustained pace and bounce.