Cricket shoots itself in foot in bizarre day four at Taunton

Cricket shoots itself in foot in bizarre day four at Taunton

There has been far too much tinkering with various different cricket formats in recent years. Even forgetting the shorter format debates for this piece, the Covid-induced changes of groups for the Bob Willis Trophy last year have unnecessarily carried over to this year, when really they should have just gone back to Division One and Division Two.

Even a cricket badger could get rather confused with all the different permutations of going through to the next group with half the points earned out of this current group stage into the Division One/Two/Three set up.

This bizarre conference system, and making a draw worth eight rather than three points, has taken away some of the drive to win games.  

Kyle Abbot and Keith Barker were celebrating every Hampshire run from the Ondaatje Pavilion, not that it really made any difference to this week’s result, but they seemed far more cock-a-hoop about the game than the side who were actually on top in the contest. 

But maybe that exact word has been the issue as today has not really felt like a contest, more a glorified net practice with no consequence for playing good or bad cricket since tea yesterday evening.  

The rain coming down at 3.15pm put the 1900 fans out of their misery, to be quite frank. It was summed up that fewer than 10 of them stayed in the ground, despite the light rain sticking around for less than an hour.

Soon after four the sun was back out but the covers remained on. Players remained in their large, separate changing areas; the umpires inspected, but still nothing happened. The 1880 odd spectators that were on their way home had made a sensible decision. 

At 4.27pm, to the dismay of the cricket fans in the press box it was announced that they would restart at 5.05pm. With nothing on the line whatsoever, to be quite frank.  

Then at 4.38pm another U-turn, common sense eventually prevailed and the captains shook hands on a draw! 

A rather odd and eventually rain-ruined final day of Somerset v Hampshire left both sides in contention to qualify from the group, with both still having two more matches to play. 

The first half hour of today saw little batting urgency but plenty of playing and missing. 13 runs in seven overs saw some rather irate Somerset fans, but a draw being eight points plus first innings bonus points left Somerset with no desperate need to push for the win. 

Possibly 19 hours too late, Tom Banton and George Bartlett did eventually go through the gears come noon on day four. They reached 50 and 100 respectively to end on 409, when Tom Abell bizarrely declared first ball of a new over just after Bartlett had gifted his wicket away on exactly 100. 

In a rare occurrence, Hampshire opened up with two Americans in both innings of this match. Cameron Steel is yet to play for the USA but was named in a 30-man training squad in the summer of 2019. Ian Holland meanwhile has played eight ODIs. 

Holland got an early life, edging straight to Tom Abell who surprised all when he dropped the 44th ball of the fourth innings bowled by Josh Davey. Next over, the Californian born, Durham loanee Steel was lbw to Gregory for 14, 30-1 at lunch.  

Tom Banton warmed up his off-spinners in the lunch break and from the umpires 4.27pm plan, at 5.05pm they may as well have been used.  

After lunch Somerset’s best fielder and captain Tom Abell put down a sharper, trickier chance diving down low at gully, also off Davey, but when averaging 60+ with the bat and bowling well he should not come under much criticism for what really would have made little difference in the result of this game anyway. 

For what it’s worth, Hampshire finished 88-2, Somerset taking 15 points from the match, Hampshire 14. 

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