Somerset v Middlesex, Taunton, 4th Day

Dockrell's six steals the plaudits

David Lloyd at Taunton

April 8, 2012

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Somerset 350 (Compton 99) and 73 for 4 beat Middlesex 246 (Philander 5-43) and 175 (Dockrell 6-27) by six wickets
Scorecard

Vernon Philander may have been the talk of the County Ground for much of this match but friend, foe and neutral observer alike went away this evening singing the praises of spinner George Dockrell.

Fast bowler Philander played a significant role as Somerset launched their latest attempt to win a first championship title by beating Middlesex by six wickets. But it was 19-year-old Dockrell who took centre stage - and looked an absolute natural under the spotlight - when his team needed a generous helping of magic today.

Figures of 6 for 27 from 20.1 overs suggest a wizard at work. Well, there will be batsmen on the circuit who play him better than these visitors. And not all pitches are going to yield as much turn and bounce as this splendid early season offering from groundsman Simon Lee. But Dockrell's left-arm weaved a spell which was a treat to watch - unless you were something like 22 yards away, of course.

Dockrell, a tall, slim Irishman, has been gathering an army of admirers for a couple of years now, mainly while playing limited-overs cricket for his country. Indeed, people were purring about him when he appeared against England - as a 17-year-old - in the World Twenty20 tournament of 2010.

This season, though, is Dockrell's chance to play first-class cricket to his heart's desire. With Murali Kartik having left Taunton for Surrey, the way is clear for young George to fill his boots. And fill them he surely will if he keeps bowling with as much control, flight and variety as he displayed during this match.

Somerset were first alerted to Dockrell's talent when he was just 15. Last year, with Kartik on board, he appeared in only one championship contest. But this summer his development promises to be rapid and, on the evidence of today, spectacular.

Middlesex were looking more than capable of earning a draw when they reached 105 for 1 deep into the morning session. The first innings arrears had just been cleared and, with a fair amount of good fortune, admittedly, Philander had been seen off.

But Dockrell changed the game from the moment he defeated Sam Robson's attempted sweep to win a leg before decision. Chris Rogers followed, edging a cut, and the visitors knew a tricky afternoon stretched out before them.

Even so, losing their last seven wickets for 40 runs in 20 overs to be hurried out for 175 was pretty remarkable. Philander did for Neil Dexter and Dawid Malan to finish with match figures of 7 for 81. But the Dockrell show resumed with John Simpson being undone by turn and bounce before Gareth Berg, lbw pushing forward, Ollie Rayner, stumped, despite at least one fumble from Craig Kieswetter, and Toby Roland-Jones, holing out in the deep, completed the collection.

A match haul of 8 for 62 should have allowed Dockrell to sit back and relax while Somerset knocked off a victory target of 72 in 40 overs. Instead, he and a few others in the home changing room will have moved towards the edge of their seats as the hosts slipped to 44 for 4.

Having one eye on approaching dark clouds probably did not help the top order. But just when some mild panic was setting in around the ground, James Hildreth and Jos Buttler settled matters with a few hefty blows - including Buttler's reverse sweep off Joe Denly, to seal the deal.

Having lost their opening match of the last two championship campaigns, Somerset deserve to feel good about themselves after this result. As for Middlesex, they fought so hard for so much of a match in which conditions generally conspired against them that defeat will be tough to take. But in the first division one bad session is usually fatal - and the visitors had a shocker after lunch today.

No such worries for Dockrell, of course. "This should give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season," he said. "Obviously I didn't get many opportunities last year with Murali Kartik here so I'm pleased to have started well.

"You have to go with what you've got. I'm quite tall and getting bounce seems to be a big thing for me at the moment. I'm still working on my action and I made a little change this winter while working with Ireland coach Phil Simmons and it seems to have helped because I'm getting a bit more spin."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (April 11, 2012, 21:08 GMT)

Max waller's been well and truly muscled out then. Still, understandable, slow left armer vs a leggie, same old story - unless you're Warnie. Be good to see a 2 spin attack in one dayers thou. I didnt really rate Dockrell that highly before this, didnt think his deliveries looked very threatening, but I take it back, he looks top notch on the highlights. Compton doing the Boycott-Tavare thing, hope it doesn't cost us a result one day as we bat to 8. Cummins or Starc or Hilf or Siddle?.... when VP plays against England. Cracking 3 match series, but for the bloody Olympics should be 5 matcher...

Posted by JG2704 on (April 11, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

@CS - Dougie Brown's another who played for Scotland and England. Then I googled him up and found he also played for Namibia. Re Trott and KP - if I was an outsider - I would not have a problem with it as SA never showed any interest in calling either up to the seniors.I don't know with Joyce - I don't feel strongly but it seems to cheapen playing international cricket if withihin the space of 5 years or so you have switched from 1 nation to the other then back again esp if the reason is that he could not get a place in the side he chose to play for.With Dockrell or any other Irish player , if Ireland qualify to play test cricket I think they should be allowed to switch back because the circumstances of Irish cricket have significantly changed.. I'm not sure about the 4 year rule - I'm sure Morgan played for Eng within 12-18 months of his last appearance for Ireland. The debate will rumble on , but re Hick it wasn't like he played for Eng within a year or so of last playing for Zim.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 11, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

@JG, I have a feeling that the rules were changed about the time that Hick qualified. He had played for Zim and was in their 1983 World Cup squad (at 17) albeit without playing. I recall Mike Proctor qualifying for England just before injury forced his retirement in 1981. No less an authority than Sir Geoffrey was advocating England picking him (look at our fast bowling resources then and you'll see why). I am not sure if the qualifying time came down from 10 to 4 years, or was 10, then 7 then 4 (someone must remember this). Anyway, that changes nothing, I would prefer England not to pick Dockerell and Rankin, although I think that at least the latter is a very long way down the pecking order right now and unlikely to get a game With so many young spinners around George Dockerell would also, fortunately have a huge battle to get in the side. I think that Kerrigan would give him a run for his money right now: that boy is a huge talent and 100% English.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 11, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

@JG, it is one thing playing for another team because the country of your birth does not play at the top level. It's anotherchanging from one Test side to another. KP was not wanted and would have had trouble playing regularly. Trott, I son't know about. When Kepler Wessels changed from South Africa to Australia and back to South Africa it seemed too short a qualifying time. For Gavin Hamilton and Ed Joyce, who had no chance of playing again at top level, going back to the country of their birth seemed reasonable. Hamilton was poached (no other word for it) on the basis of World Cup performances and found hopelessly wanting at Test level but, having played one game for England, could no longer play for Scotland. It seemed callous. I would be far more leniant with players from Associate nations than those born in Test-playing countries (save dual nationals who pick one of their two passports and stick with it, as my father had to) who move for economic reasons.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 10, 2012, 20:15 GMT)

@Chrispa85 on (April 09 2012, 01:17 AM GMT) I don't think Alfie is playing IPL this year. It's a shame He has not started with Somerset this year as last season we seemed to pick up form after a slow start last year when he was back from IPL and we then tailed off towards the end when Tres got injured. Still pleased to have Vernon and hope we sign a quality bowler for when Vernon leaves

Posted by JG2704 on (April 10, 2012, 20:14 GMT)

@Bongani Katoon (April 09 2012, 22:40 PM GMT) You're right. I'm not too proud to admit that I'm not so confident with our batting depth. You could add Cook to that. Having said that Trott wasn't on the radar until he played and became an instant success and KP contributed very little in the tests (UAE/SL) until the last match this year.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 10, 2012, 20:14 GMT)

@CricketingStargazer on (April 10 2012, 12:53 PM GMT) To be honest it actually seems too short to me. I remember Hick and Lamb seemed to take quite a while to qualify for England compared to some of the Irish players who are playing for Ireland one yesr and for Eng the next. I'm not against it but I felt the Joyce situation - however compassionate - did not feel right. I do however think if Ireland do get test status then the Irish players should have a few months to decide one way or the other who they want to play for and that be that. As a neutral it would be good to see Morgan,Dockrell,Rankin etc playing test cricket for Ireland. I see the situation different with Trott and KP as SA didn't seem to show an interest in recruiting them anyway.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 10, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

@Chrispa85 on (April 09 2012, 01:17 AM GMT) I don't think Alfie is playing IPL this year. It's a shame He has not started with Somerset this year as last season we seemed to pick up form after a slow start last year when he was back from IPL and we then tailed off towards the end when Tres got injured. Still pleased to have Vernon and hope we sign a quality bowler for when Vernon leaves

Posted by JG2704 on (April 10, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

@Bongani Katoon (April 09 2012, 22:40 PM GMT) You're right. I'm not too proud to admit that I'm not so confident with our batting depth. You could add Cook to that. Having said that Trott wasn't on the radar until he played and became an instant success and KP contributed very little in the tests (UAE/SL) until the last match this year.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 10, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Meety, Ed Joyce needed 4 years to re-qualify for Ireland. And I agree, that is not right. Same story for Gavin Hamilton re-qualifying for Scotland and Geraint Jones for Papua New Guinea. The rule does not seem fair to me.

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