Rain has forced play to be called off for the day at Edgbaston, with Warwickshire 12 for 0 in their second innings, 79 runs ahead of Lancashire.
Durham have lost another couple of quick wickets to encourage Hampshire’s hopes of extricating themselves from the jaws of relegation for the second time in as many seasons.
First Ben Stokes, who had reached a measured fifty from 106 deliveries, with three fours, top-edged his pull off Brad Wheal and was caught at deep square-leg. And two overs later Ryan Pringle produced a short-arm pull off the same bowler and was caught by Jimmy Adams at backward-square. That made it 186 for seven and they have advanced to 197 without any further damage.
Well, Notts all out for 138 having been 91 for 2. The follow-on, as is the mysterious way of modern cricketers, has not been enforced despite Somerset’s lead of 227. James Hildreth is “unlikely” to bat in this innings; he has a broken ankle. So Somerset now have Trego at four and three men on a pair. But that cushion of 227 is really quite handy.
There was a flurry of wickets after tea. Billy Root, who had got off the mark with a reverse sweep, popped a catch to short leg off Jack Leach. Next ball Matt Carter miscued to mid-off; then Dom Bess picked up the tail to finish with 5 for 43. Bess has now taken 13 for 102 in his two Championship matches at Taunton. It goes with saying that it took this correspondent rather longer to acquire his first 13 Championship wickets.
The news from Taunton means that Yorkshire’s title hopes hang by a thread. The 350 runs they need to secure sufficient bonus points to avert Somerset’s sprint to the line is remote, the wickets they lost to the new ball knocking them back. Three wickets went to Toby Roland-Jones in a seven-over spell for six runs, all of them – Alex Lees, Gary Ballance and Andrew Gale – without scoring and when Adam Lyth went to Steve Finn for 43, the board stood at 53 for 4. Since then Tim Bresnan and Andy Hodd have added 64 for the fifth wicket. Crucially, Hodd, when 22 , with the score 87, was missed at third slip by Nick Compton off Finn. Thus far it has not proved too costly, but it has stopped Middlesex when they were on a surge.
Notts are all out for 138
Somerset have a first-innings lead of 227, and maximum bowling points, but will not be enforcing the follow-on.
Dom Bess continues to enchant and surprise. He took three wickets in the afternoon with his off-breaks and has been the most dangerous of Somerset’s triumvirate of spinners so far, closely followed by Jack Leach with Roelof van der Merwe some way behind at the moment.
Bess had Tom Moores caught at slip driving in classical manner (that’s the dismissal, not the drive, which was one of those modern, flat-batted strokes pioneered by Jos Buttler but a dodgy option on a turning track). Then there was a lull. Rogers shuffled his bowlers and not much happened – until Bess returned at the Somerset Pavilion End (the one with churches rather than a river beyond the boundary).
Jake Libby was well taken at bat/pad by Tom Abell. Then Michael Lumb was superbly caught in Bess’s left-hand as he sliced a drive back down the pitch. There has been so much to admire. Bess hardly bowled a poor ball; he varied his pace on a slow pitch and spun the ball enough.
The Notts resistance then withered as two of their old campaigners went in swift succession. Samit Patel prodded forward to Leach, missed the ball and over-balanced for just long enough for an alert Ryan Davies to whip the bails off. Chris Read must have wished that this game rather than the match between Middlesex and Yorkshire was on Sky. He was aghast to be given run out by Neil Mallender after Billy Root had called him for a sharp single. From cover point Max Waller, substituting for Hildreth, returned the ball to the keeper; off came the bails but Read was confident that he was home.
Nottinghamshire are 120 for 6. It’s been a very fine afternoon for Somerset.
I’ve just had my first look at the exciting Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane, only 19 but already on England’s radar after becoming the youngest player in the county’s history to take a five-wicket haul in the championship, against Warwickshire here last year. He certainly looks a great prospect. He spins it like a top and already has plenty of variation. Bowling to Stokes is difficult though, and not just because the England man is a left-hander. Stokes came down the wicket to Crane, yorked himself basically, but jammed down on the ball and still sent it skudding through mid-on for four. Crane has bowled a few loose ones – what 19-year-old leggie doesn’t? – but he looks a real find for Hampshire after being turned away by Sussex when he was 14.
Hampshire took a fourth wicket when Dawson had Graham Clark caught behind for 58 (104 balls, nine fours). Clarke, by the way, is the brother of Lancashire’s Jordan Clark, so they must be having a few interesting mobile phone conversations at the end of play. And Crane has just broken through, having Collingwood caught behind with another big leg-spinner. Durham are now 140 for five and in a spot of bother.
It has been the Keith Barker and Jeetan Patel show after lunch at Edgbaston, inducing a second collapse of the Lancashire innings to see the visitors bowled out for 152 – a 67-run deficit – and put Warwickshire firmly in charge of this relegation scrap. Steven Croft and Jordan Clark had done well after lunch, putting on 55 for the sixth wicket and taking Lancs to 134 for five, before the former was bowled by Barker, chopping on, for 45. It was the first of five wickets to fall for only 18 runs, with Patel bowling Arron Lilley (attempting a huge hoik) and seeing Tom Bailey caught by Ian Bell turning one around the corner. Barker then castled Clark for 34 with a yorker and had Kyle Jarvis bowled playing around, finishing with four for 30.
This week’s edition of The Spin is in, with Andy Bull writing on the persistence of Gareth Batty:
Hampshire took a third Durham wicket in Dawson’s first over after lunch. Stoneman skipped down the pitch to drive the spinner but hit it straight to Jimmy Adams, at a shortish midwicket, where he took a good catch.
That has brought in the dangerous Ben Stokes, who has played himself in with ominous care, though he has just reverse-swept Dawson for four. I saw Stokes at the bar at tea-time yesterday, queuing up for a drink. He had his chin on his hands after a wicketless spell and looked in the mood to have a few pints of laughing juice. Disappointingly, he walked away with a jar of Coke.
Durham are 74 for three and Berg, who has bowled beautifully for only one wicket, has been replaced by Wheal. Hampshire will be happy to have Berg signed up for another season, whichever division they’re in, because he’s a feisty batsman as well as a nippy bowler.
At lunch there is a gathering of sage men (mostly) staring at the 22-yard strip that is the pitch for this game. They wonder around the roped square a little like visitors to Stonehenge – though they can get a little closer – seeking some sort of enlightenment. The cricket has been slow but captivating. Somerset got their fourth batting point, courtesy of a sparky innings from Dom Bess. So after the mayhem of last night they were grateful to get 365.
Then a brilliant catch at backward point by Tom Abell – apologies for first identifying the fielder as Bess, which was a bad mistake since Bess is wearing a numberless shirt – accounted for Steve Mullaney. Soon the young spin twins were in action. Bess has bowled five consecutive maidens and beat the bat of Tom Moores (son of Peter) on three balls in succession in one over. Jack Leach has been on target but the two young batsmen (the Cornish Jake Libby is the other one) have survived. The pitch is offering some turn but it is not vicious. Everywhere – at Lord’s and at Taunton – much patience has been in evidence. The chances are we will all be glued to our seats on Friday afternoon, still not knowing the destination of the trophy.
I’ve had a look at the various relegation permutations but then I got a headache and had to retire to the back of the media centre. It will become a lot easier once the bonus points have been sorted out but, basically, Hampshire are happy with the way things are going. At lunch Durham are 44 for two in reply to the home side’s 411, and Liam Dawson has turned the ball sharply in the two overs he has bowled. The other wicket to fall was that of Scott Borthwick, who was caught behind attempting to cut Brad Wheal’s first delivery of the match.
Before then Hampshire must have wondered whether they were playing Durham or Surrey – both Borthwick and Mark Stoneman will be at The Oval next year. Ryan McLaren, I see, is a modern master of the “celappeal” in which the bowler not so much appeals as explodes into a frenzied fit of high-fiving celebration. But the umpire, Mike Burns, has one of the stoniest faces on the circuit and was not impressed.
More cut and thrust. Middlesex were bowled out just before lunch, for 270, thus securing a second batting point to Yorkshire’s three bowling points. Middlesex might have had hopes of getting the score up to 300 plus, but the ball swung around a little more, and Yorkshire held their catches rather better. Nick Gubbins’s vigil ended on 125, James Franklin made 48 and the rest largely subsided as Jack Brooks finished with six for 65, career-best figures.Now we get the real meat of the day. Yorkshire have an odd batting order, with four batsmen, and what appears to be Tim Bresnan at five. Early damage with the new ball and Yorkshire could struggle to get the batting points they wiil need to take the title should Somerset get all their bowling points and win their match.
A big wicket for Warwickshire on the stroke of lunch as Oliver Hannon-Dalby removes Liam Livingston for 21. The right-hander whipped the ball off his pads and Keith Barker picked up a low grab at short midwicket. Livingston and Steven Croft came together at 39 for four in the 25th over and added 40 runs in a counter-attacking stand that applied some balm to the wounds of a top-order collapse that saw four wickets fall for four runs in 35 balls. Some chat between Livingston and fielders as they trot off for their vittles, presumably over the catch, which was low. But the umpires were happy Barker’s take was clean and Lancashire are now less so, sitting 79 for five at the interval and 140 runs behind.
Welcome to the Ageas Bowl where, after one hour’s play, Durham have just started their innings. Hampshire, who resumed on 370 for six, were bowled out for 411, shortly after securing their maximum fifth batting point. That final point came from a remarkable shot from Lewis McManus, who tried to swipe Steve Borthwick in the direction of cow corner and missed by approximately 180 degrees, getting a thick top edge down to the third man boundary.
Liam Dawson was lbw for 62 when he got one from Graham Onions that came back into him and kept a little low. Gareth Berg, coming forward, was caught at second slip by Paul Collingwood off the same bowler, Mason Crane was bowled through the gate playing a crooked shot, again against Onions, and finally McManus slogged Borthwick to deep midwicket.
Onions may not be quite the bowler he once was but he is still effective and had a useful three-wicket burst this morning. The prolific Keaton Jennings has been toppled already, lbw to Berg shouldering arms for just a single. Durham are ten for one. Hampshire, remember, went into the game needing a 22-point win to avoid the drop.
Oh dear, Lancashire. The visitors have lost four wickets for four runs in 35 balls at Edgbaston to see this relegation scrap flip like Salvatore Bonpensiero facing 30 years inside for dealing H. It was Rikki Clarke who made the initial breakthrough, with Haseeb Hameed trapped in front for 17 before Chris Wright followed it up in the next over when Rob Jones went lbw for eight. Wright, who had beaten the bat consistently in the first hour, then pinned Karl Brown in front for one before Keith Barker, who was immediately introduced for Clarke after his wicket at the Pavilion End, extracted some lovely outswing to see Luke Proctor edge behind, driving, for one himself. Warwickshire’s 219 now looks much more handsome, with Lancashire 39 for four in the 25th over.
Nineteen minutes late – nasty pile-up on the M5 south of Cullompton. I wasn’t the only one delayed on the way to Taunton but those stranded on the motorway were cheered upon arrival. Somerset were still batting. Dom Bess, just out for 41 as Somerset were all out for 365, got them there with passive support from Jack Leach, who has a reputation of keeping his head when the chips are down.
When Bess scampered a two to take the score past 350 there was a raucous cheer from the locals since that extra point just might be vital.
I don’t know Bess, but hope to one day. We have a few things in common. We live in the same county (Devon); we went to the same school (Blundell’s) where he was taught by my daughter. We differ in that in his first Championship match for the county he took eight wickets with his off-breaks – against Warwickshire a fortnight ago (I recall getting a duck against Andy Roberts and hardly bowling a ball.)
The pitch had behaved better than in the Warwickshire game. The Notts innings has just started after a long Somerset huddle on the outfield.
A wicket here at Edgbaston, with Rikki Clarke pinning Haseeb Hameed lbw for 17. Angled in and the right-hander went to flick it off his pads but a fraction of movement sees him trapped in front. Means Clarke’s drop off the teenager yesterday wasn’t too costly too. Lancashire 35 for one after 19 overs.
A fourth batting point for Somerset at Taunton, with Dom Bess and Jack Leach having put on 33 for the 10th wicket. Which means, I believe, that if Somerset go on to win Yorkshire will themselves need 350 runs in their first innings (and a win too, of course). Meanwhile Hampshire have their fifth batting point after moving past 400.
Here at Edgbaston, Chris Wright is probing for Warwickshire and beating the bat but thus far Hameed and Jones have resisted. Lancashire 35 for none.
Morning all from hazy Edgbaston where Lancashire, 14 for none, have the chance to take a big step in their battle for survival and heap more pressure on Warwickshire, whom they trail by by 205 runs. Rather looking forward to watching more of Haseeb Hameed, who survived a drop at second slip late yesterday evening and resumes with Rob Jones, he of the exuberant celebration last week.
Elsewhere, Selve is at Lord’s for the second day of the big one, where leaders Middlesex resume against second-placed Yorkshire – the home side sit 208 for five after bad light curtailed the first day – and Vic Marks is battling a lengthy traffic jam on the M5 on his way to Taunton to see how much yesterday’s late collapse against Nottinghamshire affects Somerset’s chances of a first title in their history. Paul Weaver will be at the Ageas Bowl where Hampshire are making my game all the more significant, having reached 370 for six against Durham.
Hope everyone has a great day.
The sun is out at Lord’s, which, given the floodlight furore of the previous evening, is a blessing in itself. MCC, the organisation that actually owns the ground, is restricted by Westminster City Council to a set number of days the lights can be used. So it was totally out of the hands of anyone involved in the game. But it still didn’t stop the conspiracy theorists blaming Andrew Strauss, who singlehandedly has attempted to scupper Yorkshire’s championship ambitions, having previously faked the moon landings and been spotted on the grassy knoll.
It might be a little tougher on the Middlesex bowlers too when their turn comes later on. Nick Gubbins’s century was a masterpiece of determination and self-denial, an innings forged in inclement conditions. The lifting of the cloud cover should make batting easier, which given the shallow nature of the Yorkshire order, will be welcome against a quality Middlesex pace attack. it might be though that the extra height of Toby Roland-Jones and Steve Finn will get something from the surface that eluded Yorkshire’s attack. Meanwhile, the Middlesex target should be at least 300.
Welcome to day two of the final crucial round of fixtures in the County Championship. Mike Selvey is at Lord’s for the top of the table clash between Middlesex and Yorkshire with Vic Marks at Taunton to follow Somerset’s quest against Nottinghamshire.
At the other end, Ali Martin is at Edgbaston, where Lancs are 14-0 overnight having skittled Warwickshire for 219. And Paul Weaver is monitoring the other relegation battle at the Rose Bowl, with Hampshire making hay against Durham.