Bob Willis Trophy
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Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Match Report: Warwickshire v Somerset, Bob Willis Trophy

Day Four – Match Drawn

Somerset endured the sort of sporting agony that only cricket can supply as rain prevented them closing out victory over Warwickshire in the Bob Willis Trophy at Edgbaston.

After totally dominating the match, Tom Abell’s side entered the last day needing only to polish off the home side’s second innings. Needing 292 to avoid an innings defeat, Warwickshire, resumed on the final day on 104 for six.

They finished it on 140 for eight to secure a highly unlikely draw.

Somerset bossed the match from ball one. In football terms, they were 10-0 up with ten minutes to play. But this is cricket and, in the bizarre old world of cricket, rain can be the opposition’s star player – and the visitors could only watch in dismay from their dressing-room at the Birmingham End as a string of heavy showers swept to Warwickshire’s rescue.

Only 15.4 overs were possible in the day. Perhaps most infuriatingly for Somerset, the entire post-tea session, in which there was scope for 37 overs was washed out before the call-off finally arrived at 5.13pm.

The groundstaff battled manfully to shift standing water from the outfield and get the ground playable, but it was not to be. For Somerset, the angst stretched beyond simply being denied the victory they deserved. With only two Bob Willis Trophy final places up for grabs, one of the three group-winners will miss out, so the victory points that disappeared down the Birmingham drains could cost them a place in the Lord’s showpiece.

Warwickshire began the final day in need of either some remarkable batting or some serious rain. It was the latter that bailed them out, though some credit must go to seventh-wicket pair Alex Thomson and Henry Brookes who dug in during a bitty morning’s play to consume some time.

The morning brought three sessions of play in which the home side scored 11 without loss in four overs, one without loss in 0.4 overs and 22 for one in 9.2 overs.

The latter burst brought Somerset’s only success of the morning when Brookes (12 from 40 balls), having impressively reined in his attacking instincts, tried to leave a ball from Lewis Gregory but deflected it on to his stumps.

Much to Brookes’ frustration, before another ball could be bowled, the rain returned to expedite an early lunch, at which Warwickshire were 138 for seven.

Further heavy showers kept Somerset waiting until 3pm for a resumption but by 3.02pm they had made another breakthrough. Craig Overton’s third ball rose off a length and Thomson (26, 101 balls, five fours) edged to wicketkeeper Steven Davies. Somerset sensed the kill but again were sent from the field by rain before they could deliver it. They might have noted with a degree of irony that the 20-minute tea interval passed largely in sunshine. Then the ground was hit by another heavy shower – and another – and Somerset were cruelly thwarted once and for all.

Day Three

Jamie Overton’s explosive maiden century was the spectacular centrepiece as Somerset steamrollered towards a huge win over Warwickshire on the third day of their Bob Willis Trophy match at Edgbaston.

After number ten Overton’s violent 120 (92 balls, 15 fours, six sixes), along with Steven Davies’ accomplished ton (123 not out, 182 balls, 16 fours) lifted Somerset to 413 for nine declared, a lead of 292, they had the brittle Bears in disarray at 104 for six second time round.

Had bad light and rain not lopped off the last 20 overs, victory would probably have arrived inside three weather-affected days.

Somerset have dominated the whole match but their command hit overdrive on the third day. After resuming on 214 for six, they soon lost Lewis Gregory, who skied Tim Bresnan to mid-off, and Roelof ven der Merwe, who edged Olly Hannon-Dalby behind, but from that moment on there was only punishment for the home side.

Davies and Overton came together at 226 for eight and turned a handy lead into a crushing one with a stand of 180 in 29 overs – a Somerset ninth-wicket record against Warwickshire.

Davies completed his 25th first class century from 150 balls. Overton reached his 50 from 50, charged to 80 at lunch and then accelerated his maiden ton, from 84 balls, in his 98th first class innings.

He finally fell to the admirably persevering Bresnan and 16 balls later the declaration arrived. The lack of depth in a home attack without the injured Olly Stone and Liam Norwell, and Chris Woakes on England duty, had been ruthlessly exposed. Former Yorkshire pair Bresnan and Hannon-Dalby took four for 99 and four for 104 respectively but the rest returned a combined one for 207.

Requiring 292 to avoid an innings defeat, Warwickshire started badly when Rob Yates was bowled, having left a straight ball from Jack Davey. Sam Hain and Ian Bell, two batsmen of high ability but currently very low of confidence, continued their unproductive sequences as Hain edged Jamie Overton’s third ball to first slip and Bell nicked Gregory to wicketkeeper Davies.

From 54 for three at tea, the Bears trouble soon deepened further. It was 58 for five after Michael Burgess and Bresnan perished to successive balls from Davey, caught at cover and first slip respectively.

Captain Will Rhodes showed some defiance but, having watched five partners depart, himself departed (41, 117 balls, five fours) when he was cramped in an attempt to pull a ball from Gregory and fired back a return catch.

That was 104 for six and, with Matt Lamb in severe discomfort from a cracked big toe so unlikely to bat, Somerset sensed a three-day win, but then the light closed and rain followed, leaving the home side to pray for a monsoon tomorrow.

Day Two

Somerset remain well on course for a third successive Bob Willis Trophy victory despite rain holding up their advance against Warwickshire on the second day at Edgbaston.

On a murky day in Birmingham, rain wiped out the first session completely and interfered with the second and third so that 55 overs were lost from the day, but Somerset dodged the showers to take their first innings to 214 for six – a lead of 93.

Steven Davies led the way with an assertive unbeaten 56 (85 balls, ten fours) to give his side a significant advantage and fully capitalise upon the skills shown by their bowlers in dismissing the home side for 121 on the first day.

After rain prevented play in the morning, Somerset resumed after an early lunch on 80 for two and did not add to their overnight score before James Hildreth, having hewn just a single from 43 minutes of toil, pulled Tim Bresnan to Alex Thomson at mid-wicket.

Olly Hannon-Dalby held the Warwickshire bowling together in familiarly big-hearted fashion. The Yorkshireman collected his third wicket of the innings when former Bears academy player Tom Banton was adjudged lbw, somewhat harshly as the ball appeared to be heading down leg-side.

Tom Abell (41, 82 balls, eight fours) then fell to Craig Miles when he feathered a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess. That left Somerset on 130 five, just nine ahead but Davies and Craig Overton (25, 33 balls, four fours) added 61 in 15 overs. The latter was pinned lbw by Bresnan but Lewis Gregory offered Davies further support in an unbroken stand of 23 before bad light and drizzle closed in for the final time.

Day One

Somerset delivered another dominant performance as they bowled Warwickshire out for 121 and replied with 80 for two on the opening day of their Bob Willis Trophy match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

Tom Abell’s side took immediate control against the brittle Bears, who chose to bat and soon hit 15 for three in the face of a high-class opening spell of 7-5-4-2 from Craig Overton. The England bowler went on to finish with 14-6-17-3 – superb work on a good batting pitch.

Abell nipped out the tail with 3.2-2-4-3 while Somerset’s bowlers were backed up by razor-sharp fielding which included two direct-hit run outs from the skipper and Tom Banton.

It was cricket bristling with purpose and confidence and, with two wins and 50 points already banked from their first two games, Somerset are strong contenders for a place in the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.

For Warwickshire, it was a day to forget as the batting imploded and the bowling, apart from the excellent Olly Hannon-Dalby toiled fruitlessly in the absence of the injured Liam Norwell and Olly Stone. To cap their joyless day, they also sustained another injury when Matt Lamb suffered a cracked toe while batting. Whether he will bat in the second innings remains to be seen.

With confidence fragile after their collapse at Bristol last Tuesday, Warwickshire soon hit trouble after electing to bat. Overton swiftly removed Rob Yates, who edged a beauty to wicketkeeper Steven Davies, and bowled Sam Hain who played across a straight one.

The last thing the home side needed was a self-inflicted wound but that’s what followed when Ian Bell called captain Will Rhodes for a sharp single. It was a decent call, a run was there, but Rhodes did not run hard enough and was beaten by Abell’s direct hit.

Bell looked in good nick and added 34 in 11 overs with Lamb but departed in infuriating fashion when he tickled a Lewis Gregory delivery down the leg side to Davies. Lamb went on to 22 (46 balls, five fours) but succumbed to the last ball before lunch when Overton completed his consummate morning’s work by bowling the batsman through the gate.

That sent Warwickshire into lunch 65 for five, after which Michael Burgess and Tim Bresnan took the score to 88 before the former played on to Gregory.

Somerset were bowling more than well enough not to require gifts but another wicket was then donated to them. Alex Thomson played his first ball to square leg and embarked upon a single but Tom Banton’s throw arrived before he did.

That was two wickets in two balls. Two in three followed six overs later when Abell had Henry Brookes caught at first slip and Craig Miles pouched by the keeper. When, in his next over, Abell induced a nick from Hannon-Dalby, Bresnan, having again batted resolutely, was left unbeaten on 32 (51 balls, seven fours) and Warwickshire were all out in 45.2 overs.

Somerset’s reply was solidly launched by Ed Byrom (30, 54 balls, six fours) and Tom Lammonby (33, 58 balls, three fours) who added 56 in 17 overs before both fell to Hannon-Dalby, caught at first and second slip respectively.

Match Preview: Warwickshire v Somerset, Bob Willis Trophy

First Team Coach Jim Troughton believes Warwickshire “have a point to prove” when they face Somerset in the Bob Willis Trophy at Edgbaston tomorrow.

The Bears face the Midlands/West/Wales group leaders needing to bounce back from the frustration of having the better of the first half of both their first two games only to end up with a draw and a defeat.

The 78-run loss to Gloucestershire at Bristol on Tuesday was especially disappointing after a match that had been finely-balanced all the way lurched the home side’s way on the final afternoon.

It left the Bears’ hopes of finishing top of the group hanging by a thread – and Troughton knows his side must show more steel in the game’s key periods against a Somerset side who have won their first two games emphatically.

“We have to take points off Somerset,” said Troughton. “The Gloucestershire game ended painfully for us so it’s about picking ourselves up quickly.

“We have got a point to prove. We know we can play good cricket, we have shown that in four of the eight days in the season so far, but 50 per cent isn’t good enough. We know that we need to put together four solid days. We are more than capable of doing that, We have the necessary skill and confidence, it’s just about making sure we recognise key moments in games when we are on top and exploiting them.

Jim Troughton

“Then we have to absorb the pressure when we are under the cosh. You are not always going to have four days which go your way and so far the sessions that that haven’t gone our way have got out of hand. We need to wrest that momentum back quickly.

“Over the four days against Gloucestershire we won the majority of the sessions. But the ones that we lost, we lost badly, and that costs you in four-day cricket. We are playing some good cricket but if you lose those critical passages of play, they are going to cost you.”

Against a Somerset side which has started the season at a gallop, beating Glamorgan by 289 runs and Northamptonshire by 167 runs, the Bears will look for more of the same from seamer Olly Hannon-Dalby who harvested career-best match figures of 12 for 110 at Bristol.

“Olly was fantastic, as he has been for the last year and a bit,” said Troughton. “It would have been fitting if he and Tim Bresnan could have seen us to the draw and eight points and it was painful to get so close and then just miss out with six overs left. But Olly bowled exceptionally well and can be very proud of his efforts.”

Hannon-Dalby has started this season where he finished off last, in superb form. And he has history against Somerset…with the bat. In his second championship match for the Bears, at Taunton, the Yorkshireman defied for 78 minutes with a broken arm to see his side to a dramatic draw along with Rikki Clarke.

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