Somerset v Warwickshire, Taunton, 4th day April 28, 2013

Warwickshire last pair thwart Somerset


Warwickshire 158 (Thomas 3-29) and 427 for 9 (Chopra 108, Ambrose 65, Clarke 61*, Evans 55, Leach 5-63) drew with Somerset 406 (Petersen 136, Buttler 119*) and 266 for 4 declared (Compton 105*, Kieswetter 59*)

Dougie Brown hailed Warwickshire's "incredible strength of character" as their tenth-wicket pair survived for 21.1 overs to deny Somerset victory at Taunton.

Rikki Clarke and Oliver Hannon-Dalby resisted for the last 78 minutes of the match to help the champions escape with a draw and leave Somerset, winless after their first three games, sitting sixth in the Division One table.

In a pulsating finish to a high-quality game that should underline the attraction of county cricket, the Warwickshire pair resisted - with a mixture of luck, application and pure determination - an impressive spell of surprisingly quick bowling form 19-year-old Jamie Overton as Somerset pressed for victory.

In the end, though, the lack of experience in the attack showed - Warwickshire were not forced to play at enough deliveries in the final hour - and Clarke, in particular, provided another demonstration of his growing maturity and reliability in batting out the final 45 overs of the game.

"They showed exactly what Warwickshire is about," Brown, Warwickshire's director of cricket, told ESPNcricinfo afterwards. "They showed that we play as a team and for the team and we never accept defeat. We have something at Edgbaston that you just can't buy: it's called team spirit and we leave here taking great encouragement from this performance."

Somerset may consider themselves unfortunate. Oliver Hannon-Dalby was inexplicably reprieved by umpire Nick Cook after he had clearly edged the impressively hostile Jamie Overton to the substitute keeper Jos Buttler with 11 overs to go and the umpires also made the bewildering decision to take the players off for two overs for bad light just as the sun came back out from behind the clouds. It cost Somerset two overs.

But they will also rue some self-inflicted errors. Somerset spurned at least four catching opportunities on the final day - Clarke was the beneficiary on two occasions; one a straightforward chance to James Hildreth at slip - and must also reflect on the wisdom of not enforcing the follow-on towards the end of the second day of the match.

Somerset led by 248 runs after the first innings but, instead of asking his bowlers for another burst on the second evening, with 13 overs left in the day, Trescothick instead decided to extend his side's advantage. He might also have declared Somerset's second innings earlier.

"It was a brilliant advert for the county game," Trescothick said phlegmatically afterwards. "It was a great game and it was on TV.

"You always reassess your decisions, but I don't regret the follow-on decision at this stage. The bowlers were tired and the pitch was flat. No-one means to drop catches, but we missed some crucial opportunities and that cost us."

Warwickshire also deserve much credit. While the pitch remained comfortable for batsmen and the bowling attack was somewhat green - it included two teenage seamers and a 21-year-old spinner - to resist for 144 overs was remarkable. It was the highest score Warwickshire have ever made in the fourth innings of a first-class match and is believed to be their longest ever fourth-innings in terms of overs faced.

It says much for the positive outlook in the Warwickshire dressing room that, despite chasing a target of 515, they did not abandon victory hopes until their sixth wicket fell. That ambition may have counted against them, though, when Tim Ambrose's fluent half-century was ended when he top-edged a pull - Hildreth caught it running back from slip to within 10 yards of the third man fence - and Laurie Evans' excellent three-and-a-half hour show of defiance was ended when he chased a wide one and edged a cut to slip.

Earlier Varun Chopra - missed on 94 when he drove a tough caught-and-bowled chance back at Alfonso Thomas - completed the 12th first-class century of his career and Chris Woakes, batting at No. 6 in this game (Warwickshire utilised a nightwatchman in their second innings) with an idea to his potential role with England, composed a pleasing 42. They still only finished 88 runs short.

With so much to admire, then, it is a shame that the drama was overshadowed by some disappointing umpiring. While everyone accepts that human frailty comes with the territory, the standard of decision-making in this match was so low that it threatened to compromise the meaningfulness of the encounter. So many important decisions were wrong - some of them far from difficult - that the game took on an element of chance.

Quite apart from the men given out incorrectly - there were several but Nick Compton, William Porterfield and Chris Wright, given out lbw on the last day to a ball that would have bounced over the stumps, could feel particularly aggrieved - the umpires also made a horrendous mess of the light issue.

First they insisted that play continue in the rain - Woakes was bowled in remarkably gloomy conditions - and then took the players off just as it stopped and the light brightened. By the time Cook, by some distance the worse of the two umpires, utilised the TV coverage to review two appeals for catches - neither was out - it appeared that even he had lost confidence in his decision-making.

At least Jack Leach will remember this game with more affection. Leach, 21-year-old and playing his third Championship game, used to be employed to park trolleys in a branch of Sainsbury's supermarket in Taunton, but here took his maiden five-wicket haul as he was rewarded for his control and persistence; 24 of his 44 overs were maidens. It seems safe to assume he left those trolleys in good areas.

But while Leach demonstrated admirable control, he is not a big turner of the ball - he was reliant on the foot-holes when bowling Chopra, sweeping, behind his legs - and he lacked the bite to inflict the fatal blow. While delighted with his own performance, he admitted the result "felt like a loss" afterwards.

"We batted badly in our first innings," Brown said. "But we bowled well in both innings against a batting line-up that is Test class from one to six and we batted well in the second innings."

It seems neither of Warwickshire's last-wicket heroes will play their next game. Clarke, who pulled a hamstring, will not play in the Championship match against Sussex starting on Wednesday, while Boyd Rankin will come in for Hannon-Dalby. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell will also play.

Craig Kieswetter, who was forced off the field at lunch having sustained a blow to his right-hand when standing up to the stumps off Peter Trego, is also an injury doubt for the next match and will require some sort of scan to ascertain the extent of the damage. In Buttler they possess a remarkably keen and able deputy.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on April 29, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @Munkeymomo on (April 29, 2013, 7:48 GMT) - I like the way you put

    "but that decision was not why we lost this one".

    Because the actual result was a draw , but the result felt like a defeat.

  • JG2704 on April 29, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    @Mike Leachon (April 29, 2013, 9:39 GMT) I think the timing of the declaration is a tricky one - in this instance - because of the weather and not knowing exactly how long you're going to have to bowl at the other side. As it happened it was best part of the day but it could have been half a day. Imagine how bad it would have been had Somerset got Warwicks 7 or 8 down Sunday lunch time and then rain curtailed things. The thing is re timing of the declaration is that if you allow for weather (which in this case doesn't happen) you could set them a target which is much more manageable. If you make the side follow on then if weather does intervene at least you've given yourself the best chance of forcing a result. Surely you and all other fans will remember the games we dominated last year which rain truncated. Maybe someone should have reminded Tres

  • JG2704 on April 29, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (April 29, 2013, 9:08 GMT) To be honest , Had we won - I'd still have said it was the wrong decision. I wouldn't say that it would have been any inspiring decision for any side to win from having a 1st inns lead of 250 whichever way you play it. Just like I'd have said it was the right decision to make Warwicks follow on had they done so and Warwicks somehow managed to win. The 2 big factors are time left in the game and (part of the same factor) the weather. At least if you make the opposition follow on you know exactly what you have to chase and at what rate you're going to have to go about the job. Of course the weather could still have curtailed things but at least you have given yourself the best chance of forcing the result (even if it goes against you) by making the side bat again

  • JG2704 on April 29, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    @Justin Cowardon (April 29, 2013, 8:38 GMT) 1 - Warwicks would have needed to score 500 (not 400) for Somerset to be face chasing 250 on the final day and being as they would almost certainly have had more defensive thoughts I don't think they'd have scored at such a rate that Somerset would be chasing much more than 150- (200 at most) on the final day 2 - The fact is that the pitch didn't break up. I'd say you have to be pretty sure that the pitch will (not might) do funny things on the 4th day 3 - Even if it did , there are SO many things which would have had to have gone right for Warwicks to win it from following on in a 4 day match We had no particular bad weather and surely the likelihood of weather curtailing the final day's play was always going to be more likely than Warwicks building a huge lead and skittling Somerset out in just over 2 days. And if we lose - (I believe) we lose 3 points for the draw. If we win we gain 16 points.

  • JG2704 on April 29, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    @Flash_hard27 on (April 29, 2013, 8:31 GMT) I didn't watch Friday's play as I was out on a long ride. I watched most of Saturday's play and then flicked in between that and IPL on Sunday. I think I had a horrible feeling the moment Tres batted again that this was going to happen and I knew I'd be better off not watching it constantly

  • 2.14istherunrate on April 29, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    To enforce the follow on or not to enforce the follow on....I think probably the answer is just to not think about it and just do it. No-one in the comm box gave the idea of not enforcing it house room. There may be exceptional reasons to bat again but if you enforce it then at least to the outside world you have your defence.

  • dummy4fb on April 29, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    @JG - I totally sympathise with your views (not for the first time). I was in favour of enforcing the follow-on, largely because of fears about the fourth-day weather (which as it happened didn't play much of a part). However to my mind the real strategical blunder was the timing of the declaration - and this is not 20-20 hindsight, as anyone on Gimblett's Hill around 2.15 on the Saturday can confirm! One unfortunate outcome is that everyone who likes to think in cliches will ignore everything else that's happened at Taunton for the last three years and see this game as confirmation that it's still a batsman's paradise.

  • jmcilhinney on April 29, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    @JG2704 on (April 29, 2013, 7:35 GMT), I don't necessarily disagree with you. I think not enforcing the follow-on because it's "the modern way" is a crock. It should always be considered on a case by case basis. Whether or not Trescothick was influenced by current trends I don't know but, while I do feel that there was a case for and against, on balance, I think that the case to enforce was stronger. As you say, once they di bat again, they really should have pushed the pace more than they did. That said, they did come close and, if they had held their chances and won the game, the decision would have been vindicated. You could still say that, on balance, the better decision would have been to enforce but you couldn't say that to not was wrong. It does seem that Trescothick took the timid option though.

  • Nutcutlet on April 29, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    This was a great match to watch (& I saw 3/4 the last day) & from a neutral (Surrey) point of view, just the right result - whether the result itself was just was anyone's guess as the umpiring was, I am afraid, diabolical. Fielders don't plan on dropping catches; neither do umps plan to muff their chances at dispensing justice, but if Nick (in this case No-Nick) Cook was part of a team (and in a sense he is) then it's certain that he wouldn't be playing again for another month! As for the play, this type of match tests temper, temperament & ultimately, humour & sportsmanship more than most. Tres is not the greatest strategist but the manner in which he kept his young team, esp. Jamie Overton going & also controlling Jamie's temper was great to witness. It was absolutely clear that he is held in the highest regard by his team, although Alfonso, the senior pro, found his patience at snapping point. And the bigger picture? Whoever is ahead of Warwicks come September will be champions.

  • dummy4fb on April 29, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    People look at the decisions he made and instead of looking at the big pitcure they break each decision down. Now if we look at the decision to not enforce the follow on. Tres believed and stated many time the pitch would break up and deterrate. As he believe this that is why we did not enforce the follow on. As to get the batting in as early as possible as if they got 400 and we chased 250 on the final day on a pitch that is getting worse would be an issue. Also putting on a 500 run chase put pressure on the opp with out the team bowling. Yes after the game we can all sigh about the decisions. Also if he thought the pitch would stay flat as it did i am sure leech would not have played and possibly Kirby would have been in. Fair play Leech does not turn the ball a lot but makes the batsen play and got wickets.

    20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. Tres got it wrong in this one not by the decisions he made but the pitch not doing what he expectedthis then caused issues for his plans.