Lancashire v Somerset County Championship 1st Division May 11-14 at Old Trafford

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

LESS than half a day’s play was possible but when the umpires abandoned play for the day at 5.35 Somerset were relieved to have lost only four wickets when they could have easily been dismissed for less than a hundred.

Playing his last championship match before England play Ireland in the first Test starting in June, James Anderson made the ball talk in the morning session as the Somerset top order could not play him.  Anderson took two wickets but should have had three more.  Three catches were spilled off him. Luke  Wells spilled the first, Tom Hartley the second and the man himself Anderson, dropped a return catch.

Anderson should have had his wicket with the fifth ball of the day when he  angled one across opener Tom Lammonby found, his edge but Wells put down the easy chance at first slip moving to his left.  In his next over Anderson squared Lammonby up and  took the shoulder of  Lammonby’s bat, this time it was Hartley who put down a knee height chance at third slip.  

Eventually Anderson did get a wicket when Steve Davies, playing his first championship match for a year, edged a drive off his first ball from Anderson and Hartley took a comfortable catch at third slip. Anderson got his second wicket when he angled one across Somerset captain Tom Abel who played across the line and was plumb leg before.

Amazingly Lammonby had another life off Anderson when he drove the England seamer  but Anderson couldn’t hold on to it with his right hand.

Graham Bartlett faced four balls  and went without scoring when he didn’t put a full stride into one that came back in at him from Will Williams.  Tom Kohler-Cadmore showed his intent from the moment he came in to counteract the swing and seaming ball by advancing down the pitch to the bowlers. He missed a few but he did get three fours to take Somerset past 50.  But he did once too often, he took a couple of paces down the pitch to Saqib  Mahmood had a wild swing and his leg stump went cartwheeling out of the ground.

James Rew joined Lammonby and he managed a thick outside edge off Saqib Mahmood flew over the slips to the boundary before the rain came at 2.47.

Somerset’s batting coach Shane Burger said: “To lose three early wickets wasn’t the ideal start but the application that Lammonby showed when the conditions were in the bowlers favour showed his resilience.

I said to the players before we came here that they have to do it against one of the best bowlers in the world. If you can prove you can play at the top level you have to do it against the world’s best.

I didn’t think that the pitch would do as much as it did.  I think that getting through the new ball was vital but the rain came at the wrong time for us. If we can have a good start then anything’s possible.”

Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood said: “It  looked like a green wicket and I hadn't played on a green wicket for years so I thought it might do a bit but it was actually pretty flat and the outfield made it hard work.

"It was handy to get a wicket - it was probably not the best shot - but I thought we bowled well on the whole this morning. There was a bit of movement with the new ball and our seamers made the most of it - the wicket is starting to get better now and obviously you have to adapt to that. Now it's under the covers it might give us that little bit off the wicket again tomorrow.

We've had four draws and weather has played a part in all of them. We're happy with the way we're playing our cricket but obviously we need a bit of luck from the weather and when you're playing on wickets like this you need to maximise the time you're out there.  If we can be disciplined tomorrow hopefully it will be a good wicket and if we can put the ball in the right areas we can get the rewards.”

Day 2

JAMES Rew hit his second century of the season against Lancashire and his third first class ton to put Somerset on top at Emirates Old Trafford at the close Lancashire were 289  behind with eight first innings wickets left.

The teenager made Lancashire pay for dropping him in  the first full over of the second day when without adding to his overnight score he edged Will Williams and despite getting both hands to it at first slip Luke Wells  dropped his second catch of the innings  as he moved to his left. As slip catches go it was a dolly. Rue  has now scored 362 runs against Lancashire in five Championship innings to give him an average of 72 against the red rose County.

He said: “Yesterday when I was waiting to bat it looked really out there so full credit to Tom Lammonby for the way he fought throughout his innings because it  wasn’t the best conditions for scoring runs. The Lancashire bowlers bowled really well and they didn’t give us anything to score off. They got the ball swinging and we had to work hard for our runs. 

It’s going to be tough to win but the ball is turning so there are promising signs for us.”

Rew reached his  century, which came from 233 balls with 11 fours, when he cut George Balderson to the  point boundary not only did it bring up his  hundred but it also gave Somerset  a batting point.

He  reached his third  fifty against Lancashire in three Championship matches when he turned Saqib Mahmood off his legs for a single.  His fifty came from 126 balls with six fours.  But again Lancashire’s fielding behind the stumps let them down.  On 52 Rew top edged Williams to stumper George Bell who dove to his left but couldn’t take the catch  as the ball hit the top of his wrist. After lunch on 69  he flashed hard at Williams and substitute Rob Jones at second slip could only get his fingertips to it.

Just before lunch Rew rocked back on his stumps and pulled Balderson to the mid wicket boundary. Seven minutes before lunch his partner Kasey Aldridge stood and delivered a lofted straight six off Balderson, a shot that nobody in the ground saw coming.

After losing over half of the first day and losing three early wickets Somerset, still seeking their first victory of the season, batted to make sure that they don’t lose this match.  The morning session produced 72 runs in 35.4 overs and only one wicket. The only wicket that Somerset lost was Lammonby. Lancashire eventually held on to a chance from Lammonby as Daryl Mitchell got his first wicket for Lancashire when Lammonby did well to reach a wide ball from the Kiwi Test player and substitute Jones took the catch above his head. They had added 78 in 37 overs in contrast to the afternoon session when they added 121 in 31 overs.

Aldridge pushed Balderson through mid on for a single to bring up the hundred partnership with Rew off 213 balls.  The partnership was broken six runs later when Aldridge drove Mitchell to bring up his second first class fifty but he edged it and Wells caught it comfortably at first slip.  At last the Lancashire slip cordon caught one to give Mitchell his second wicket.

After Aldridge’s dismissal Craig Overton came in with the intention of getting Somerset to a second point, he quickly raced to 17 from 15 balls.  Rew joined Aldridge in the hutch four overs later when he  steered Mitchell to substitute Jones at first slip.

Overton and Matt Henry saw Somerset to their second point. In the penultimate over before tea another catch went begging when Henry gave a return chance to  Saqib Mahmood but the ball went through his hands in his follow through.  Overton was caught in the crease and was leg before to Williams.

Williams hit Tom Hartley for three sixes in five balls, the first landed on the balcony of the point.  He was unbeaten on  fifty which came from 39 balls.  Josh Davey’s lofted drive off Hartley found Williams at mid off.  Jack Leach was the last man out when Leach’s lofted drive off Williams was brilliantly caught by a diving Vilas at mid on.

Henry showed Wells how to catch a ball when he took a brilliant return catch to dismiss the Lancashire opener. First he parried the ball with his right hand in his follow through and then caught it in his left.

On 15 Balderson followed the old maxim and  flashed hard at Overton just wide of Tom Kohler-Canmore at first slip.

James Anderson didn’t appear at all on the second day with what Lancashire said ‘was a minor issue’.  

Day 3

DARYL Mitchell became the first Lancashire player to hit a century on his championship debut and take three wickets since Ralph Whitehead hit 131 and took three wickets against Nottinghamshire at Emirates Old Trafford in 1908.

After he took  three wickets on the second day  he said: “It's nice when you start for a club to make an impression with the fans and the people at the club and also nice to get a few cheeky bowls. It's part of your job to help the boys win games of cricket whether it's with bat or ball or in the field and do it with a smile on your face, while puffing your chest out and then seeing what the game brings you. 

For me it is a big honour to come and play for Lancashire - it's a big club on the county scene and I want to try to keep contributing to the team and do it with a smile on my face. As a little kid this is what you dream of - travelling the world playing cricket. It's pretty cool."

Mitchell made an early appearance coming in at the fall of Steven Croft’s wicket in the fourth over of the morning when he  tried to work Craig Overton off his legs but stumper Steve  Davies took his second catch of the morning. The same pair combined to dismiss night watchman Will Williams who prodded at the first ball of the day and edged it and Davies keeping wicket instead of Rew took a low catch.

Mitchell tried to be positive against Jack Leach and blast him out of the attack when he first came on but after that first over both Mitchell and George Balderson showed plenty of respect to him.  Their 150 partnership was brought up when Mitchell lofted Josh Davey over mid on for a six. 

The Kiwi turned on the style after lunch he turned Kasey Aldridge off his legs to the fine leg boundary to bring up his 50 from 106 balls with a six. He  drove Aldridge straight for an handsome  six and two balls later he squeezed Aldridge to the third man boundary to take him into the nineties. 

Mitchell was the  last man out when he pulled fellow Kiwi Matt Henry to Tom Lammonby at square leg and he added “There are a few Kiwis out there - maybe we're taking over! It's awesome to be out there with Williams and  Henry but that's part of the wonder of playing international cricket all around the world.”

Mitchell added: “In many ways the ball is in their court and it's about how they want to play in the morning and set the game up. We'll keep trying to set pressure and take wickets and hopefully we might have a little chase later on.

I thought Somerset bowled really well for periods especially with the second new ball. They asked plenty of questions and you have good days and bad days and today was a good one. There are some seriously talented young batters in this team and it's awesome to see them do their job and do it with a smile on their face while enjoying their cricket - they're only going to get better as their careers go on but I thought they showed a lot of class out there today and it bodes well for Lancashire in the future."

Overton was brought back into the 15 minutes before lunch and with his third ball he got his third wicket of the session.  Balderson survived a strong leg before appeal but he drove at widish ball edged it and the Overton and Davies combination struck again.  With Mitchell, Balderson added 77 in 24 overs and Overton finished with four four 52

Overton said: “I feel that I am gently getting back to bowling as I can do. It has been a frustrating season for me but now I am getting a few wickets and I  believe that I am bowling better than I have. It’s nice to contribute to the team.  It’s good to be bowling with Henry he’s a world class bowler, he just keeps plugging away and it’s nice to have him in our side.

Henry’s first over after lunch was an eventful one.  He was hit for consecutive fours by Vilas, the first to the mid wicket boundary, the next was steered to the point boundary.  The next he found the edge of Dane Vilas’ bat but dropped short of third slip. Henry’s flurth  beat Vilas for pace but  kept low and Vilas was leg before. Lancashire were now six down still needing 36 to save the follow many thought that they wouldn’t do it or if they did Lancashire would be 100 behind but Mitchell and Bell avoided it easily with a partnership of 57 in 74 minutes.

Somerset captain Tom Abell took the new ball immediately it was available and Overton struck with the sixth ball. He got one to rise and cramped  Bell up for room who  edged it to Aldridge at second slip who took a good catch. 

Hartley had a charmed innings, on 26 he pulled Henry but  Abell back peddling at square leg  couldn’t take the catch despite getting an hand to it.  Hartley had another life  off the next ball when he edged Aldridge but Overton at second slip couldn’t hold on to the low catch but his luck ran out three runs short off his 50 when he pulled Henry to Abell on the square leg boundary.  Henry four wickets cost him 73 runs.

Thee was no appearance from James Anderson, leading  by Somerset suffered an early loss when Davies played on to Williams.  Without looking in any trouble or giving any chances Lammonby and  Abell added 81 in 19 overs when Abell,two short off his 50, tried reverse sweeping left arm spinner Hartley missed the ball, and was bowled.

George  Bartlett looked uncomfortable against Saqib Mahmood and in the last over of the day  Bartlett was bowled by Saqib Mahmood with Somerset leading by 149 with seven second innings wickets left.

Overton added: “It’s going to be tough tomorrow to get wickets because it’s a good batting wicket and it was disappointing to lose two wickets near the end.  Ideally we would like to have a go with  two  new balls but realistically it’s going to be tough but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.  It’s definitely been our best performance of the season.”

Day 4

SOMERSET’S James Rew hit his second century of the match but  the match petered out to a tame draw.  

Afterwards both teams disagreed on who was to blame. Lancashire head coach Glen Chapple said: “We came in this morning thinking there was a really good game in prospect. They were 149 in front overnight which in our minds meant that a positive session from them or a good start for us, either way there was a good chance of a game.  Unfortunately we didn’t make early breakthroughs but we still expected to be set a score.

It was a good pitch but scoring quickly wasn’t easy and a good target could have been set to give both teams a chance. We’re trying to play positive cricket. Our scoring rates are good, we’ve got the highest run-rate for any batting team in Division One. Unfortunately so far with the pitches we’ve played on, and a bit of rain, we’ve not been able to force a result. That’s not down to how we’ve played our cricket. We set a really good declaration at Nottingham last week which, credit to Nottinghamshire, they went for it from ball one. We didn’t get over the line but it was a good game of cricket. Today was the opposite. There was a good game in prospect and for some reason Somerset weren’t interested. I’ve got no explanation for that.

I thought 260-270 from lunch would have been really challenging, but we would have gone for it. We would have even gone for 300, but that would have been a slim chance on that surface. They didn’t take any chances in the morning session, they were 250-odd in front and it would have taken very little more intent from them to get a really challenging target.  The more you dangle the carrot, the more chance both teams have of winning. We would have gone all the way after a reasonable chase.

While Somerset captain Tom Abell said: “It ended in a damp squib but yesterday afternoon we went to Lancashire about the possibility of setting up a game of it.  We wanted 80 overs to get them out but they said it wasn’t for them which is  fair enough. They wanted 50 to 60 overs. Losing those wickets last night affected how we went about today.  The way the match petered out wasn’t good for cricket but we had to play the situation.  We came into today with no expectations and we discussed  at lunch if we had scored quickly enough.  But if we had given them 50 to 60 overs we would have played into Lancashire’s hands.

It was a match between two very good sides with quality attacks on show.  Rew was pretty special and his hundred in the first innings was  exceptional. We were in trouble on the first morning and the way we wrestled the game back was good but we needed more time in the game.”

Rew reached his ton which came from 196 balls  when he pulled Dane  Vilas to the mid wicket boundary. His second century wasn’t as good as the one in the first innings as Somerset declined to set a target for Lancashire to chase. His century made him the leading run scorer in the County Championship.

Earlier in Rew’s innings he pulled  George Balderson for consecutive fours  and he finished the over with a full blooded straight drive to the boundary. He swept Tom  Hartley to the mid wicket boundary to bring up his second 50 of the match from 92 balls with eight fours.

Lancashire used nine bowlers during the Somerset  innings, the first time they’ve  used nine bowlers in a championship match since 2003 at Blackpool when they used nine against Kent.  Vilas and Steven Croft shared the new ball as the draw was never in doubt with  Croft bowling seam up for the first time since the early part of his career.

Leading by 149 Somerset didn’t lose a wicket for 39 minutes when Tom  Kohler-Cadmore played inside one from Will Williams and was bowled. Tom Lammonby followed his first innings 38 with 78,  his highest score of the season so far. He  turned Saqib Mahmood off his hips to the fine leg boundary to bring up his second 50 of the season, beating  the 66 he made against Warwickshire in the first match of the season at Taunton.

With a hundred for the taking, on  78, Lammonby went down the pitch to Hartley missed the ball but stumper George Bell fumbled the legside stumping.  That missed stumping didn’t deter Lammonby because next ball he charged Hartley and again missed the ball but Bell made a better job and completed the stumping.  Lammonby’s 78 came from  153 balls  216 minutes and included seven fours and one six.

By the time tea was approaching Lancashire skipper Vilas brought on some very, very part time bowlers. The Emirates Old Trafford crowd saw Vilas bowl for the first time for two seasons,  and stumper Bell took off his pads, as Josh Bohannon went behind the stumps, and bowled for the first time for Lancashire.

Kasey Aldridge took advantage of the situation and punched a  juicy full toss from  Bell to the cover boundary to bring up his 50 from 98 balls. He reached his century when he pulled a full toss off Vilas over square leg.  His century came from 143 balls with eight fours and two sixes.His was his best score beating the 58 he made against Lancashire earlier in the season.

The match ended with pacemen Saqib Mahmood bowling off spin.


May 12, 2023 9:12 am

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