Ian Holland, in just his fourth first-class game, swung the pendulum back in Hampshire’s favour with four wickets but rain would appear to be leading this well poised match toward a draw.
The 26-year-old, who made his way into cricket via the Australian reality series Cricket Superstar in 2012, had one Specsavers County Championship appearance under his belt before this week after playing against Warwickshire four weeks ago, where he took one wicket.
Today, in the solitary two hour session of play, he picked up a quartet of scalps to set in motion a horrific Somerset collapse that saw the visitors slide from 102-1 to 135-8.
“[It was a] funny, strange session of cricket,” said Holland at the close. “I thought all day, with the overhead conditions, that if there was anything there, it was going to be today and with getting to dusk, a bit of moisture around, I thought there was a good chance it could nip around a little bit and it did.
“It’s always good to contribute and to come into the side and do well is good. I don’t want to come in and feel like I’m dead weight.”
He began the charge by removing debutant Eddie Byrom for 43, chipped to George Bailey at mid off. The 20-year-old had looked comfortable for much of the afternoon and may prove a useful asset to Somerset’s current batting woes.
James Hildreth was trapped in front in Holland’s next over, and two overs later he picked up two in three balls. Finding a touch of away movement, both Tom Abell and Steven Davies edged to wicketkeeper Lewis McManus for ducks. In seven innings dating back to the reverse fixture, the Somerset trio have just two half-centuries between them. It’s not difficult to see why they have just one score over 300 in that time.
Lewis Gregory struck one boundary and reached eight before taking on a non-existent single to Holland at backward point, and Somerset were six down. A ball later, Adam Hose, who had looked similarly well-set for much of the session, was struck on the pads by Gareth Berg’s first delivery back into the attack and departed for 48.
Just prior to the second interval, Craig Overton chipped Berg to midwicket to complete a collapse of 7-33 in 14.4 overs and turning a game it seemed impossible for Somerset to lose into one where a fifth defeat of the season is staring them in the face.
The only saving grace may be that the not-so-Great Great British weather could well have taken just enough time from the match to prevent a result.
After only 52 minutes of cricket was possible on the second day, more showers meant play began at 5.20pm today, with 62 overs scheduled. A subsequent shower pushed a resumption back to 8.30pm, but further rain just as the players were about to come back on saw the close of play called.
Regulations state that no overs are to be made up on the final day, and even with the forecast set fair, it might take something of a minor miracle for Hampshire to force victory.
Holland said: “I think there’s still a lot of time left and things can happen quickly as we saw so ideally, in a perfect world, we can get a nice lead and maybe have a look later in the day, give ourselves the option to have a look at having another crack. It’s very nice to be in the position that we are now.”