v Somerset 25-28 Sep

Match Report Specsavers County Championship 25 September 2017

Middlesex
Somerset

DAY ONE - CLOSE OF PLAY

SOMERSET 236 a/o

MIDDLESEX 18/3

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel claimed a career-best seven for 81 as 13 wickets fell on an action-packed first day of the Specsavers County Championship relegation battle with Somerset at Taunton.

From a promising 193 for four, having won the toss, the hosts crashed to 236 all out, with a series of attacking shots leading to wickets. Eddie Byrom top-scored with 56, his maiden Championship half-century.

Patel bowled 29.4 overs from the River End, getting assistance from a dry first day pitch, but also capitalising on some poor batting by the Somerset middle and late order.

In reply, Middlesex were reduced to five for three, as Craig Overton removed Nick Compton and left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who was given the new ball, accounting for Stevie Eskinazi and Sam Robson.

By the close they had reached 18 for three, 218 behind, and will need to bat well tomorrow to pass Somerset’s total.

There was no sign of the dramas to come when Byrom and Marcus Trescothick almost batted through the morning session.

Byrom was dropped at slip by on 32 by Robson off Patel and went on to reach fifty off 79 balls, with 11 fours. It was the 20-year-old Zimbabwean left-hander's 14th Championship innings and he had previously been out seven times between 38 and 43.

Trescothick gave solid support and was unbeaten on 31 at lunch, which was taken after Byrom got a leading edge to Paul Stirling to give a catch to mid-off.
The afternoon session was a good contest, Trescothick falling for 37, padding up to a ball from Patel that turned sharply from outside off stump.

It was 139 for three when George Bartlett, who had lofted Patel over wide long-on for six in moving to 25, was bowled around his legs by Patel looking to sweep.

Tom Abell looked in excellent form in reaching the same score before being run out by Patel. James Hildreth turned looking for a second run to fine leg and then changed his mind, leaving his partner stranded.

Even so, the pair had played Somerset into a decent position by tea. Their innings fell apart after Hildreth, on 41, was leg-before attempting to reverse sweep Patel.

Roelof van der Merwe went first ball, caught at slip giving Patel the charge, and Craig Overton, Dom Bess and Leach followed in rapid succession, all looking to attack.

When Steve Davies was last man out, caught off another reverse sweep, Somerset appeared to have let a great position slip.

But Overton then produced an excellent opening spell that saw Nick Compton caught behind and Leach used the new ball to good effect, having Eskinazi and Robson caught by Trescothick at second slip.

DAY TWO - CLOSE OF PLAY

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 159/3

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Somerset built a strong position on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match with Middlesex at Taunton, knowing that victory would secure First Division survival.

The hosts closed on 159 for three in their second innings, with a lead of 253 on a pitch which, while offering less assistance to the spinners than on day one, is still turning.

Middlesex needed to reach 250 in their first innings to clinch the bonus points necessary to ensure they finished above Somerset whatever the result. Instead, they were bowled out for 142, from an overnight 18 for three, Jack Leach claiming four for 54 from 25 overs.

From that point Somerset, with a first innings lead of 94, were aware that a win would secure safety. James Hildreth led the way with 82 not out as they built steadily on their advantage.

The day began brilliantly for the home side as Adam Voges drove a catch to mid-wicket off Dom Bess, who then ran out John Simpson for a duck with a direct hit at the wicketkeeper’s end after Dawid Malan had called for a single to cover.

At that point Middlesex were 22 for five. But Malan and Paul Stirling then showed what was possible with sensible shot selection by adding 73 for the sixth wicket.

Counter-attacking when possible, Malan hit 2 sixes and Stirling one. The stand was broken when left-arm spinner Leach claimed his third wicket of the innings, pinning Malan lbw for 38.

Stirling had batted confidently for his 41 when carelessly stumped down the leg side off Leach, Steve Davies whipping off the bails and appealing successfully to umpire Mike Burns as the batsman stood his ground.

Somerset’s third spinner Roelof van der Merwe got in on the act by gaining a leg before verdict against Steve Finn as he aimed an extravagant slog-sweep to make it 117 for eight.

Lunch was taken at 127 for eight and after the interval it was Craig Overton, tipped for a place in the Ashes tour squad, who wrapped up the innings by bowling James Harris and having Ravi Patel caught at cover.

Overton finished with three for seven from 5.3 overs, having bowled quickly and accurately on a surface more conducive to spin.

When Somerset batted again young batsmen Eddie Byrom and George Bartlett fell cheaply to poor shots. But Marcus Trescothick passed 19,000 first class runs for Somerset in contributing 31 before falling lbw to a good delivery from Harris that moved into him.

By then Somerset had extended their lead to 153 and Middlesex were bowling almost as much seam as spin in an attempt to limit the scoring.

With the sun shining, Hildreth, who reached his half-century off 98 balls, with 4 fours, and skipper Tom Abell piled the pressure on Middlesex. Their unbroken stand of exactly 100 by stumps featured orthodox batting and made the pitch look benign.

Hildreth, in the last innings of his testimonial year, batted with an assurance that was matched by his partner as Abell ended the day unbeaten on 33.
Middlesex were left to bemoan the absence of injured spinner Ollie Rayner, who would surely have relished conditions, particularly on the first day.

DAY THREE - CLOSE OF PLAY

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 250/9d

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o & 40/3

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Day Three of the Specsavers County Championship First Division clash between Somerset and Middlesex was halted by the weather at Taunton.

By the time steady rain set in at 1.40pm, ensuring no more play, the visitors had struggled to 40 for three in their second innings, chasing a hefty target of 345 on a pitch continuing to assist the spinners.

Jack Leach removed openers Sam Robson and Nick Compton, while Dom Bess produced a ball that turned and lifted in his first over to have Dawid Malan caught behind.

Earlier, James Hildreth had completed his 41st first class century as Somerset extended their second innings to 250 for nine before skipper Tom Abell declared.
Hildreth, who began the day on 82, was out for 109 in the chase for quick runs.

Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel finished with five for 92 and match figures of 12 for 173.

Aware that rain was forecast for the afternoon, Somerset batted positively from their overnight score of 159 for three.

Abell moved from 33 to 45 before being out to a one-day shot. Attempting to reverse sweep Patel, he guided the ball straight to Adam Voges at slip.

Steve Davies, who received his Somerset county cap during the lunch interval, fell leg before to Patel before Hildreth was bowled by James Harris, having faced 192 balls and hit 12 fours.

The innings was priceless for Somerset, not only for putting them in a strong position, but also in showing what was possible on a pitch that was the centre of controversy on day one.

Craig Overton, warmly applauded as he walked to the wicket following his Ashes tour selection, perished in a bid for boundaries, as did Dom Bess and Roelof van der Merwe, who produced a valuable cameo of 24 off 19 balls.

When he became Patel’s fourth victim of the day and fifth of the innings, Abell declared and quickly offered the new ball to left-arm spinner Leach in tandem with Overton.

Robson survived two major scares before he was out, Overton missing the wickets after fielding the first ball of the innings off his own bowling when Nick Compton called for a quick single, and Abell dropping a dolly at short cover off Leach.

The mistake didn’t prove costly as Leach got a ball to grip and Robson edged to Overton at slip with the total on 20.

Changing his pace cleverly, Leach then had Compton lbw failing to get forward to a full ball and Bess’s second delivery was too good for Malan.

The rain arrived with Somerset in a strong position, with the forecast for tomorrow dry.

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