Tom Abell’s 98 and 82, and a 74* from Steve Davies and George Barlett respectively, keep Somerset in with a chance of beating Hampshire on a likely rain affected Day Four at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Josh Davey wrapped up Hampshire’s lower order, completing figures of 5-78 before noon on Day Three, Hants all out for 311. Lewis McManus did not add to his overnight 91.
Interestingly the bails were not disturbed for any of Hampshire’s 10 wickets, as all fell caught or lbw. Just one of those little quirks cricket anoraks enjoy noting.
Yet again, Abell was in early in Somerset’s second innings, Eddie Byrom the man to fall caught behind off Kyle Abbott for 4. Steve Davies was dropped by Felix Organ at fine leg off Barker, when on 19. Organ himself was the man really put to the sword, as Davies reached 50 and then took the part-time spinner for two fours in the 28th over, bringing up the 100 run second wicket partnership.
71 balls it took Abell to glide his way to another Somerset 50. Chanceless and including nine fours, all elegant as ever.
139 in 182 balls of almost effortless run scoring from Davies and Abell gave Somerset a lead of 201 before the second wicket fell.
Davies had slog swept Organ into the Somerset Stand once already, in the 36th over, but missed with his second attempt, lbw for 82. 129 runs in the match for the wicketkeeper at the top of the order was a particularly good effort, especially when compared to the other four openers Somerset have tried this season.
Despite the dubbing of Taunton as ‘Ciderabad’ – and that points deduction – when Organ took the wicket of Davies, it was just the sixth spinner’s wicket in first-class cricket at Taunton since the start of 2020. Organ’s part-time offies did take two more, though. The first was a leading edge from James Hildreth’s bat when he was on 13.
And the second was Abell, who just missed out on a well-deserved 100 as he chopped on a cut shot to be bowled for 98. Still, it was a splendid and very useful innings – at a quick rate as well – which could be important with some rain forecast tomorrow.
Lewis Goldsworthy has not fielded all game due to a sore ankle, but did come in to bat at six ahead of Tom Banton, Lewis Gregory and Roelof van der Merwe just before tea on day three. George Bartlett reached a welcome 50 just after 5pm.
With 15 overs remaining the question on all in the ground’s lips being: ‘When will Tom Abell declare?’ And, an equally regularly noted second question: ‘why have we still not seen one ball of spin bowled by former England spinner Liam Dawson?!’
Bat to the close Somerset did, and bowl Dawson did not. One would think you would have to be in a galaxy far far away for Dawson to not bowl one ball in 80 overs of dominant Somerset batting. Part-timer Organ, meanwhile, bowled 28 overs this innings.
With six overs remaining Tom Abell surprised us once more with not a declaration or an encouraged acceleration to the close, but Mr Davey batting ahead of Banton, Gregory and van der Merwe in an intriguing order change. Yes, he got a magnificent red ball 50 in preseason, but you would not have seriously put the former opener’s batting credentials ahead of the aforementioned trio.
Dramatically Davey was caught behind by McManus to the final ball of the day from Keith Barker, proving little to the above comments as weather may put pay to seeing anyone else batting in this match anyway.
Somerset were 323-6 at the close, with Bartlett 74*.