The County Championship continues to rumble on and as the batters, unusually for this time of year, proceed to pile on runs, many bowlers would be thankful for a day out at Taunton.
Somerset, as seems to always be the case, were tipped for a first County Championship title again in the 2022 season. However, after a disastrous start to the campaign that has seen them lose their opening three matches, the boys from the West Country have another stern test approaching as reigning champions Warwickshire head to town.
With their much-vaunted pace attack, including the shrewd accusation of Aussie quick Peter Siddle, Somerset would be a handful for any batting line-up. Yet, as the English Test team has shown countless times over the recent years, it doesn’t matter how good your bowling attack is if your batters can’t post scores, and here-in lies their issue. Only Tom Abell has reached three figures in 2022 and in the one game at Taunton this season, the Somerset XI manged to post scores of 109 and 159 in a painful one-wicket defeat to Essex. If it’s any consolation to Somerset, the Essex line-up that also struggled on a seaming Taunton pitch are, on paper at least, much stronger than their Warwickshire counterparts.
Warwickshire were the surprise package in 2021, when the team played better than the sum of their parts to earn a first County Championship title in nine years. Their form has continued into the new season with a win and a draw from their opening two fixtures. However, with a batting line-up that, whilst being solid, does not seem to possess a batter outside of Sibley who can have dominate throughout a season, Somerset may well fancy their chances. Yet with Yates, Hain and the newly acquired Davies, Warwickshire still have the ability to post big scores and whilst 400 is probably out of their reach at Taunton, an inform Burgess could easily propel them to a competitive total.
Somerset: Tom Abell
Prior to the last round of fixtures, Tom Abell had not scored a century since his unbeaten 132 against Gloucestershire in May 2021. Since then, Somerset have played ten red ball games: losing seven and drawing three. Whilst Abell’s career average of 33 may not seem world beating, it shows how weak the line-up around him is that is almost certainly the lynchpin to which the rest must bat around. It appears that for Somerset to succeed, Abell must also.
Warwickshire: Michael Burgess
Taunton is notoriously a difficult place to bat throughout any match played there, however coming off the back of two 170+ scores in his last two innings, Michael Burgess is about as well placed as anyone to face the challenge. Coming it at seven for Warwickshire and with a career strike-rate touching 65, a quickfire half-century from the keeper-batter could be enough to give The Bears a more than competitive total in what will surely be a low scoring affair.
As always, runs will be important for Somerset, with the fitness of Gregory likely to be key. Gregory fitting in alongside all-rounders Overton and Davey would provide Somerset with some much-needed lower order strength. The batting line-up, despite its weaknesses, is unlikely to be changed.
Warwickshire have one of the more stable starting XIs in the country. The fitness of Norwell, the standout bowler in 2021, will be an issue as he was forced to sit out the opening Championship fixture with a back complaint.
Squads – TBD
The weather is meant to remain dry and sunny throughout the four days, with the temperature being in the mid-teens. The pitch should provide the bowlers with ample assistance, with the last innings seeing Essex reduced to 84/9 in a tense one wicket win over Somerset.
Date – 28th April – 1st May 2022
Time – 10.30am
Ground – Taunton
Odds (SkyBet) – Somerset 5/6 Warwickshire 5/6