|Scorecard:||Somerset v Sussex|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2013|
DateLine: 10th July 2013
John Ward at Taunton, day 2
Close of play: Somerset (244 and 197/7) v Sussex (363).
Barring unusual developments, Sussex will beat Somerset on the third day of their match, quite possibly before lunch. The vital factor in a match of mostly good bowling and generally indifferent batting was the stand of 275 runs for Sussex between Michael Yardy and Matt Machan, more than Somerset’s entire first innings. When Somerset batted again, their batting was that of a side resigned to eventual defeat, and their expectation will most likely be granted without too much sweat for the visitors.
The most predictable course of the second day’s play was that Sussex would build up a large lead over Somerset, before closing their innings perhaps during the final session and putting the home side under pressure before the close. Certainly for most of the first session of the day the match went very much in favour of Sussex. They resumed at 174 for two wickets, just 70 runs behind the Somerset total, with Yardy on 94 and Machan on 58.
Jamie Overton opened the bowling, despite obviously struggling with his injured knee. Yardy took great care to start with and it took him almost twenty minutes before he pulled a ball from Overton for four to midwicket to bring up his century, which came off 99 balls. Two overs later another pull skied only just over square leg, and two or three other uppish strokes just failed to go to hand over the next hour or two; luck was certainly not favouring the beleaguered Somerset.
The next landmark was Machan’s maiden first-class century, a good workmanlike innings that took him 138 balls. Yardy then reached 150, not long before lunch. Soon after that, however, Machan drove a low catch into the covers off Craig Meschede and the monumental partnership of 275 runs had come to an end. Machan, who is due to be replaced by Ed Joyce when he returns from Ireland duty on the third day, made 103, with thirteen fours and a six.
Rory Hamilton-Brown also fell before the interval; he was missed off a difficult high chance in the slips on 4, and added only a single before an unconvincing drive had him caught at short extra cover off Meschede. Lunch came at 296 for four, and after that there was a steady slide of wickets as Somerset fought back gallantly and were aided by some rather poor Sussex batting.
Yardy fell very quickly after the break, trying to cut a ball from Overton that was too close to him and chopping it on to his stumps. He made 156 off 177 balls, with 27 fours, and it was his calculated assault on the bowling on the previous afternoon that had taken his team to its dominant overnight position.
Ben Brown made a quick 17 and Luke Wright 25 without really looking in good form, but nobody else reached double figures as there was a steady fall of wickets until the last fell at 363. The last eight wickets fell for 80 runs, and Sussex found their lead restricted to 119, considerably less than they would have been hoping for. Four seamers took two wickets each, with Steve Kirby having been the most impressive.
Having fought their way back into the game, to an extent, Somerset failed to follow it up with the determined batting that was needed. Marcus Trescothick has been in poor form recently, coming into this match after two one-day ‘ducks’; now there was the sorry sight of his departure for the first ‘pair’ of his long career, again getting a good ball from James Anyon that he could only edge to the keeper. Nick Compton, perhaps disheartened by his failure to convince the national selectors to reprieve him, seemed to lack the incentive to prove them wrong, and made an unconvincing 7 before he fatally tried to flick a yorker from Steve Magoffin to leg, across the line, and was bowled leg stump.
Thanks mainly to some rather flashy strokes from Alviro Petersen, Somerset were 31 for two and looking unconvincing. James Hildreth, however, came in with his usual positive attitude and kept the board moving along, as far as could be managed with the abysmal over rate, a problem which the ECB has tackled for years with fanatical incompetence. At tea, which came almost 40 minutes late due to this same over rate, Somerset were 82 for two off 15 overs.
Petersen did not long survive the interval, edging a ball from Anyon low to third slip for 34. The same bowler then removed Craig Meschede for 5, edging to the keeper, and the score was now 97 for four, with signs of Somerset slipping into oblivion again. When Hildreth, 49 off 67 balls, offered a rather limp bat to a ball from Magoffin outside off stump to be caught in the slips, the score had declined to 118 for five. Somerset were still a run behind Sussex and there was no real whiff of fighting spirit in the air.
For a while, though, Jos Buttler and Craig Kieswetter did well together, and the bowling seemed less threatening. But once again the batsmen flattered only to deceive and, after a stand of 64, like so many others in this match, Buttler played weakly outside the off stump and edged to the keeper, after making 35, Chris Jordan being the bowler. In the next over Kieswetter followed him back to the pavilion, beaten and bowled by Anyon for 37. At 182 for seven, Somerset’s slide continued, and Jordan in particular had his tail up, bowling some quick and testing deliveries. With Peter Trego and Alfie Thomas in, Somerset finished the day 70 runs ahead, and with only three wickets in hand.
In a commendable new venture, Somerset held a Schools Day, when all schools in southwest England were invited to attend free of charge, and thirty-four schools and 1200 children are reported to have taken part. Various activities were laid on for them, including a parade around the ground during the luncheon interval. Other counties would do well to take a leaf from Somerset’s book. It was only a pity they could not have seen their county team playing to greater advantage.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 John Ward)