Bob Willis Trophy Preview: Northamptonshire v Somerset

Bob Willis Trophy Preview: Northamptonshire v Somerset

Steven Davies
Pic courtesy of Somerset TV on Youtube, with thanks.

At 148-5, midway through the third afternoon, Northants were 79 runs behind Warwickshire and staring down the barrel of a third day defeat. The Bears would take just one more wicket, as Northants added 359 runs to escape from their opening Bob Willis Trophy match with a draw.

Charlie Thurston began the recovery falling just short of a maiden first class century when he was dismissed for 96, but the job was finished by Adam Rossington and Luke Procter who batted through the entirety of the fourth day. They both made centuries and shared a record breaking stand of 200 for the 7th wicket.

Having been blown away on the first morning for just 142, Northants would have been delighted to leave Edgbaston with a draw. This week, however, they will be up against a very strong Somerset side in their home opener.

Having come so close to winning the County Championship last summer, Somerset are many people’s favourites to lift the Bob Willis Trophy and they started superbly with a dominant victory over Glamorgan at Taunton.

Things did not start well for Somerset but a final wicket stand of 107 between Steven Davies & Jack Brooks, who made 72 from just 58 balls, lifted them to 296 all out. 

The Overton brothers then took centre stage. First up, Craig who took 5-38 as Glamorgan were dismissed for 131 in their first innings. Tom Abell’s century set a nominal target of 456 for the Welsh county, but this time it was Jamie who picked up the five wicket haul as Somerset won by 289 runs.

This will be their first visit to Wantage Road in any format for five years, with Northants winning a One-Day Cup tie on that last occasion. 

This will be the first red ball meeting between the sides since 2014. That was a thrilling match, in which Northants fell just 52 runs short of chasing 404 on the final day. 

However, the game is sadly remembered for a horrendous eye injury suffered by Craig Kieswetter and, while he did feature in the last two games that season, he admitted his vision never fully recovered and he was forced into retirement. 

Key Man

Since taking over from Alex Wakely as captain of the red ball side, Adam Rossington has gone from strength to strength for Northants. Having finished as top run scorer in the 2019 season, with 787 runs at 46.29, the one thing that was missing from Rossington’s CV as captain was a century. 

That was emphatically answered at Edgbaston with a match saving 135 not out, his highest score for the county since moving from Middlesex in 2014. If Northants are to remain competitive in the Central group then Rossington’s runs will be hugely important.

While much of the attention following the Glamorgan victory had focused on the performance of the Overton brothers, wicket keeper Steven Davies made a crucial 81 not out in Somerset’s first innings. In the shortened format, bonus points are going to be hugely important, and the two that Davies’ partnership with Jack Brooks secured could prove to be vital for Somerset.

The innings was equally important for Davies, who ended 2019 with a string of low scores. This was the perfect start to 2020 and he will be hopeful of continuing his form at Wantage Road. 

Team news

Northamptonshire squad: TBA

Tom Banton is back in the Somerset side after being on international duty. Lewis Gregory is not included as there are concerns about an injury niggle and George Bartlett is out after a concussion he sustained during the Glamorgan game.

Somerset squad: Tom Abell (c), Kasey Aldridge, Tom Banton, Jack Brooks, Eddie Byrom, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Ben Green, James Hildreth, Tom Lammonby, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton and Roelof van der Merwe

Weather and conditions

Unlike Northants’ home opener in 2019, which was played in single figure temperatures, 30 degrees are forecast for Northampton on Saturday for the start of this match. The hot weather is set to stick around for the four days, but there is the outside chance of a thunderstorm interrupting play on Monday & Tuesday. 

Date: 8th-11th August 2020
Time: 11am
Venue: The County Ground, Northampton
Odds (SkyBet): Northants 6-4; Somerset 8-15

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