By Connor Steel
HAMPSHIRE CRICKET completed another victory in the County Championship on Saturday afternoon as they beat Somerset at Taunton within three days; adding to their innings win over the Cidermen last month with a ten wicket success this time around. Not for the first time this campaign it was a game that saw contributions with bat and ball from everybody, the match moving quickly despite rain interruptions on day two as the home side collapsed spectacularly in the second innings at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Having elected to bat first on a green-tinged pitch, Somerset started well with Matt Renshaw and Tom Lammonby survived the first hour solidly adding 37 runs. But in the seventeen over Hampshire made the breakthrough as Lammonby (16) was dismissed by Kyle Abbott, whilst fellow opener Renshaw (27) followed three overs later to Ian Holland to make the score 49-2. This soon became 55-3 with another wicket when Tom Abell was bowled in unfortunate circumstances off Mohammed Abbas before a spell of quiet resistance ended the opening session with the hosts on 58-3 after thirty overs.
Following the addition of nineteen runs Hampshire took their fourth wicket as Abbas pinned James Hildreth LBW for eight, whilst Tom Banton (24) fell in similar circumstances to Abbott to leave the score on 94-5 after 47 overs to end a frustrating spell. And tight bowling halted the normal attacking play of Lewis Gregory (5) who became frustrated at the lack of scoring opportunities; edging James Fuller to slip on his 24th ball of batting to make the score 113-6. A fast-paced partnership between Craig Overton and Steve Davis soon followed, but were unable to hold on until tea; the latter caught off Liam Dawson’s spin for twenty-nine as Somerset reached 154-7 after the second session.
New batsman Josh Davey smashed Dawson for six after the interval as both him and Overton hit a flurry of boundaries between them in a forty-run partnership off ten overs; which ended when the latter holed a looping shot to Organ and became Abbott’s third wicket of the game for a high scoring 44. England international Jack Leach then added 13 runs to push Somerset over the two hundred run threshold for a batting point, but was bowled by Holland’s in-swinging delivery. And the innings was wrapped up before the new ball as Peter Siddle was bowled by Fuller, Somerset all out for 211 with Hampshire gaining all three bowling points available as the seamers did the damage.
This left the visitors with an awkward spell of 15 overs to finish day one as Somerset’s seamers went past the outside edge on multiple occasions with the new ball. However they were unable to get any wickets as Organ and Holland batted out until stumps without loss, adding twenty-nine runs to end a successful day in overcast conditions with spells of sunshine despite the threat of showers in the forecast. But good luck with the weather didn’t last as heavy rain on Friday morning meant no play in the opening session of day two, both teams having an early lunch with the covers firmly in place.
Play restarted at 1:40pm with Hampshire starting positively as Organ (20) played Overton through the offside for four, but lost their first wicket of the innings as the opener edged a short ball to Gregory at third slip to make the score 38-1. But Somerset were unable to build on this as some loose deliveries allowed Holland and Gubbins to push to 63-1 when the ball was changed due to an issue, whilst another short rain interruption forced the players off just 10 minutes later with the visitors on 69-1.
Resuming at 3:20pm Gubbins played the shot of the day with a back-foot stroke off Gregory down to the boundary, before following this with another two boundaries as he moved to 26 not out as the pair passed a fifty run partnership. But just as the visitors began to get momentum rain again stopped play with the score on 95-1 after thirty-eight overs; tea being taken as the umpires conducted a 5pm pitch inspection as they decided to resume thirty minutes later providing the weather stayed firm.
Upon the restart under sunny skies Somerset began to find consistent bounce and length, getting their second breakthrough as Gubbins edged behind to Davis for 49 runs; standing there in disbelief as Overton celebrated his 400th wicket in first class cricket with the score on 107-2. And this turned to 117-4 as Gubbins (36) was deemed caught behind by Siddle’s delivery, before Overton trapped captain James Vince trapped LBW for six with a ball that nipped off the seam. This triple dismissal brought Ben Brown and Dawson (8) to the crease as the pair added 27 quickfire runs, which was halted with what proved the final ball of the second day as the latter was dismissed for a plumb LBW off Gregory.
Starting day three on 144-5 Hampshire added eight more runs before Brown was trapped LBW from a low delivery, having failed to add any runs to his overnight score of nineteen. Another ball change then followed as Keith Barker and Aneurin Donald settled to eat into Somerset’s lead, hitting solid runs to reduce the arrears to within twenty runs. Then came a crucial moment as Donald was dropped on 29 as he edged to Overton off Davey with the score on 195-6; the two batsmen passing the 200 mark shortly afterwards before Barker hit Leach for a six and four to put Hampshire into the lead.
The English spinner got his revenge in the 72nd over as he saw the end of Barker for thirty-six with the away batsmen edging to midwicket leaving the score on 220-7. Somerset were unable to immediately build on this wicket as the visiting lead increased, Donald (57) reaching his second straight fifty and securing a second Hampshire batting point before offering the hosts a glimmer of hope. With the score on 251-7 and a new ball in hand, Siddle’s turning delivery slammed into Donald’s stumps before Abbott was pinned in-front for a duck for the ninth wicket to make it 256-9 as lunch loomed.
But the last wicket had triggered an extra spell of bowling before the 40-minute break and Hampshire took full advantage of this as Somerset bowlers floundered; Fuller continuing to hit boundaries including two quickfire sixes to extend the lead past fifty runs. The batsman added two more fours before his fun was ended on 38 as he misjudged a Siddle ball and was trapped LBW to leave Hampshire all out for 280 to signal the interval; the Australian bowler and Overton taking four wickets apiece in an innings again dominated by fast seam deliveries as Somerset faced arrears of 69 runs.
And although the hosts started solidly Hampshire broke through in just the sixth over when Lammonby was dismissed edging behind for a duck off Abbas, whilst his fellow opener Renshaw quickly joined him LBW for eleven to leave the batting side on 12-2. Fresh from taking the second wicket Barker dismissed Abell (2) as the batter edged behind as Abbas added his own second removing Banton for four as Somerset were reduced to 23-4 in just the twelfth over. It soon worsened for the Cidermen as Barker added Hildreth (1) who was bowled by a full swinging delivery for his third wicket, before dismissing Gregory leg-before for a duck in the same over as the top order was destroyed within ninety balls.
Davies and Overton then adjusted well to intense bowling as they tried to avoid an embarrassing innings defeat in front of their home fans; adding thirty-two runs off 4 overs including six boundaries. However Hampshire were still looking dangerous and sealed their seventh wicket, Barker’s fifth of the innings’ as Overton was bowled for 13; Davies following soon after for nineteen as he saw his leg stump uprooted by Abbott. Leach quickly came and went following a great catch from Gubbins, but an innings defeat was avoided when Davey hit Barker for four, the bowler avenging that brilliant shot with his next ball as a ripping delivery bowled the batsman to wrap up the hosts’ second innings in a flourish.
Barker’s unbroken spell ended with figures of 6-27 off thirteen overs as Somerset were all out for 69 runs, losing ten wickets in just 25 chaotic overs to leave Hampshire needing just one run to win with the scores level. And it didn’t take long as Organ played Siddle’s fourth delivery down the ground for a single to celebrate with his opening partner Holland, sealing a ten wicket victory for the visitors following a dramatic two hours of cricket that was the complete opposite of an even and slow paced two days.
Hampshire gained twenty-one points from this victory and enhances their good start to the County Championship season; winning four and drawing one of their opening six games since April. Following other results on Sunday including an innings defeat for Lancashire, they have overtaken the Red Rose into second with 102 points; sitting just three behind Surrey who weren’t in action this weekend. Attention however now turns to white ball action as Hampshire open their Twenty-20 Vitality Blast campaign versus Middlesex next Friday at the Ageas Bowl before hosting Somerset three days later in Southampton.
PICTURED BY SOMERSET CCC: Peter Siddle appeals for a wicket as Hampshire batsman watches on.