LV= County Championship Division One – Warwickshire v Somerset Day Two
Reactionary cricket supporters (none of whom read Deep Extra Cover) may be struggling to come to terms with the idea of a female umpire at an LV= County Championship match, as happened in Cardiff this week. Here at Edgbaston, it was another female who dominated much of the talk. Agnes the storm was forecast to disrupt the day with rain and high winds.
Agnes kept us waiting for a while; but eventually she put in an appearance and halted play for three hours at 2.15. When play resumed, bad light prevented too much more cricket and left the match nicely poised with Warwickshire three wickets down and just over half way towards matching Somerset’s 215.
Did the rain matter much to two teams, neither of whom can claim the title or be relegated? Somerset may not have been too bothered but Warwickshire would no doubt argue that the difference in financial rewards between finishing third and fourth in the Championship is worth playing for.
By close of play yesterday, Neil Wagner and Josh Davey had already taken Somerset from a sad 96-8 to 180; and they began day two as they had left off, with Davey hitting Olly Hannon-Dalby for two consecutive fours and Wagner hitting Chris Rushworth for four and then striking a short ball from Hannon Dalby for six.
It was, from a Somerset perspective, too good to last. Much to his surprise, Wagner was given out caught behind off Hannon-Dalby for 72, scored off 78 balls. Umpire Blackwell, having played for both counties, could hardly be accused of bias. Then, off the next delivery at the other end, Davey skied Chris Rushworth back over his head to be caught by Alex Davies for 46. Somerset were all out for 215; and Rushworth had completed his 32nd five wicket haul – 5-47.
Lewis Gregory gave Somerset the ideal start to Warwickshire’s reply by neatly removing Kraigg Brathwaite’s off stump for nought in the first over. With 45 runs so far in six innings for the Bears, Brathwaite has potentially only one innings more to avoid being in contention for the least successful overseas signing of the season (or maybe the decade).
An out of touch Rob Yates and an in form Will Rhodes did their best to survive against some challenging bowling, with both Gregory and Josh Davey achieving late movement. There were more misses than at a 1950s beauty pageant. Nevertheless, they persevered and brought up the fifty stand before Yates was caught behind off Jack Brooks.
On 58-2 at lunch, the sight of the main cover being brought on even before the players had all left the field was ominous. In fact, although there was plenty of cloud cover, the rain for a time kept away.
It is a sure sign that the batting side are getting on top when the bowlers demand a ball change. Lewis Gregory tried it on but had no joy with the umpires. Neil Wagner twice induced edges from Alex Davies that flew through the slips. A third streaky shot off the same bowler brought up the hundred in the 32nd over. But the sight of Davies groping to focus on the ball was enough to cause the umpires to take the players off for bad light at 2.15 precisely. And soon the rain arrived.
When play did eventually resume, Warwickshire quickly lost Will Rhodes, caught at cover off Josh Davey. Dan Mousley made a palpably nervous start, almost running out his partner and then surviving two loud lbw appeals. Then, after a short further break for bad light, followed by a brief resumption, play was finally ended at 5.45 with Warwickshire on 112-3, 103 runs behind Somerset.