Somerset v Middlesex, Taunton, 2nd day

Murtagh leaves Somerset begrumpled

David Hopps at Taunton

May 16, 2013

Comments: 3 | Text size: A | A

Somerset 152 (Murtagh 4-28) and 112 for 5 (Trego 58*, Murtagh 4-22) trail Middlesex 347 (Dexter 82, Rogers 57, Overton 6-95) by 83 runs
Scorecard


Tim Murtagh appeals for a wicket, Somerset v Middlesex, County Championship, Division One, April 5-8, 2012
Tim Murtagh called his day in Taunton among the best of his career © Middlesex CCC
Enlarge
Related Links

There is something impressively businesslike about Middlesex. They came to Taunton with definite Championship credentials. They will expect to return to London by the weekend with that reputation enhanced.

They look brisk, vigorous and confident in their good habits, the smart, well-drilled side down from the big city. Fifteen Somerset wickets in 56 overs tend to do wonders for your belief. Fifteen Somerset wickets in 56 overs at Taunton: such things do not happen.

Tim Murtagh, the leading Division One wicket taker with 28 at 15 runs apiece, so far has eight wickets for spit in the match. He has an insistent, all-brushed-up style, swings the ball and, at 31, is logically approaching his peak. He felt so good in himself that afterwards he even described the day as probably the best in his career.

Victory against Somerset would take them to the top of the First Division with the LV= Championship not far short of midway and encourage hopes of winning their first title for 20 years when Mike Gatting was at the helm.

Gatt would drink to that; in fact, he would probably eat to it as well. He should start tucking in his napkin now because on the evidence of the past two days they have a good shout. If there is disarray and dismay south of the Thames, there is organisation and stability to the north of it.

When the West Country tyro, Jamie Overton, completed the opening day well on the way to a career-best 6 for 95, he had been the only Somerset quick to make much of an impression on a pitch which, although green, did not - as Overton related - do as much as Somerset expected. Then when Middlesex bowled, it presumably did considerably more than they ever imagined.

Murtagh did not find as much swing as he can, nor Toby Roland-Jones as much bounce, nor James Harris as much fortune (certainly first time around), but backed up by committed fielding they took hold of the match within a few hours in a manner that Taunton crowds, more used to run gluts, have rarely witnessed in recent seasons.

For a brief period, it seemed as if Middlesex might even win inside two days as they enforced the follow-on with a lead of 195. Memories of Somerset's failure to beat Warwickshire when Marcus Trescothick failed to enforce the follow-on last month were still strong.

Then Somerset had already bowled 65 overs and Trescothick insisted afterwards that he had no regrets: the bowlers were tired and the pitch was flat. On this occasion, it was a no-brainer; Somerset's first innings had only lasted 45 overs so exhaustion did not come into it and there was enough encouragement to keep Middlesex's bowlers interested.

That prospect of a two-day finish was removed by a crisp half-century from Peter Trego, with Jos Buttler in subdued support, but they remain 83 runs in arrears. Even Tractor resorted to heavy irony as Trego's flurry brought Roland-Jones falling to the floor in his follow-through. "On the way, on the way," he roared. Trego had also put up most resistance in Somerset's first innings before he was ninth man out, having a blast at Neil Dexter.

Murtagh never let Somerset's top order rest. After reaping 4 for 28 first time around, he followed up with 4 for 18 with the new ball to leave Somerset tottering at 35 for 5 by the 11th over.

Arul Suppiah, was lbw without scoring and is yet to reach 20 in six knocks; Alviro Petersen, who will soon be heading off for the Champions Trophy, was averaging 82 in the Championship, but Murtagh has picked him off for 0 and 4 here. James Hildreth and Lewis Gregory also succumbed to Murtagh in both innings, Hildreth at slip, Gregory lbw, the same dismissals twice in a few hours.

It was the sort of beautiful late afternoon that Taunton delivers as invitingly as anywhere on the county circuit, the sunshine and blue skies enhanced by the fraternal nature of the crowd, but two old Somerset boys had seen enough as they headed for the exit, walking sticks a swinging. "They should bring back Rosey," burred one of them. If they weren't exactly angry they were certainly, to resort to an old Somerset phrase, a bit begrumpled.

Suitably, they were walking through the Brian Rose gates at the time, named in honour of their former director of cricket who stood down at the end of last season because he was weary of finishing second - or because he knew this Somerset side was beyond its best.

If his replacement, David Nosworthy, is to gain the same affection, the old boys muttered, he would be advised to cut down on the management speak to explain what looks likely to be a rare Somerset failure in front of their own supporters. They don't like too much of that around here.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: David Hopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (May 18, 2013, 12:51 GMT)

@CricketingStargazer: I am concerned about the performances, although reading the word 'Begrumpled' lessened the disappointment.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 17, 2013, 7:40 GMT)

Bad , bad day for Somerset.I'm finding Hildreth really frustrating. In just about every inns he seems to make a start but then seems to get out in the 20s etc. It's strange that we seem to have less absentees this season but are performing so much worse. I genuinely fancied our chances in the CC but as CS says we could be facing a nervy end. I especially worry about our batting when Tres retires. Suppiah used to be reliable and even he seems to have gone downhill

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (May 16, 2013, 20:33 GMT)

This has been a strange game of cricket. Batting looked simple in the morning both days. Yesterday Rogers and Robson made hay, today it was the Middlesex tail who got so close to the 4th point. In the afternoon batting looked impossible both days. Both sides had big collapses, although Somerset's should really start their supporters worrying: if the pitch and conditions were difficult, why were they not for the Middlesex openers and later their tail? But, at the end of the day, lower order batsmen have found things more comfortable both days.

Somerset have managed to make the margin more respectable. They have taken the game into a third day and may even make Middlesex bat again, but they have come a distant second. Their big guns have been spiked both with bat and ball and, barring a big improvement in the meantime, August is threatening to be very nervy and to depend on other sides having an even worse time of it. Right now, Somerset, Surrey and Derbyshire look well off the pace.

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
David HoppsClose
David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
County Results
Glamorgan v Gloucs at Cardiff - Sep 24-27, 2013
Glamorgan won by 8 wickets
Kent v Lancashire at Canterbury - Sep 24-27, 2013
Kent won by 2 wickets
Notts v Somerset at Nottingham - Sep 24-27, 2013
Match drawn
Surrey v Yorkshire at The Oval - Sep 24-27, 2013
Match drawn
Sussex v Durham at Hove - Sep 24-27, 2013
Sussex won by 6 wickets
All recent results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days