Middlesex v Somerset, Lord's, 3rd day August 30, 2013

Somerset savour Lord's demolition

David Lloyd at Lord's

Somerset 449 (Chawla 112, Barrow 65, Trescothick 64, Patel 4-89) beat Middlesex 106 (Chawla 3-8, Meschede 3-25) and 164 (Gregory 5-38) by an innings and 179 runs

The battle at both ends of the Division One table looks likely to go to the wire. But when Somerset finally set course for the west country tonight several hours after sealing a stunning victory with nearly five sessions to spare, they did so safe in the knowledge that survival is once again in their own hands.

Marcus Trescothick and his team were reluctant to tear themselves away from the home of cricket, wishing to savour an innings victory - their first in a Championship fixture at Lord's since 1983 - for as long as possible.

"You never get tired of playing here," Trescothick said. "So we're not shooting off too quickly because we want to hang around and enjoy what we've achieved."

What Somerset had done, in simple terms, was to lift themselves out of the relegation places. And with home fixtures to come, starting next week, against first Derbyshire and then Surrey - the two sides below them - before finishing the campaign at Trent Bridge, top flight status is now theirs to lose.

The mood was entirely different, of course, in the other dressing room at Lord's. Middlesex's title challenge, which looked so potent before last week's shock defeat in Derby, is now all but over. Director of cricket Angus Fraser was in no mood to pull any punches, describing the team's batting performance as "unacceptable", and his men now face a real test of character against Surrey next week.

But poorly though the hosts played, this match should be remembered most for a terrific Somerset performance that was a world away from many they have produced this season - and much more in keeping with what friends and foes expected of them during 2013.

In danger, by just after tea on the first day, of being dismissed for less than 250, they saw their last three wickets add 238 runs with new recruit Piyush Chawla contributing a priceless century from No 9.

Then, once Middlesex started batting, an attack which had looked threadbare before start of play - with Steve Kirby and Peter Trego missing through injury - put the title hopefuls under enormous pressure.

At 19, Jamie Overton (who joins England next week for a possible one-day international debut) was easily the best known of the three front-line pace bowlers. But it was two 21-year-olds, Lewis Gregory and Craig Meschede, who did most of the damage - Meschede striking three times in the first innings and then Gregory claiming a first ever five-wicket haul second time around once the follow-on was enforced.

The outside edge was found with regularity and almost every catch was held (five of them in the second innings by Trescothick, at second slip) as Somerset refused to give the home side a hint of respite. Their only other victory of the season had been a nerve-shredder at Derby but this one was complete in almost every aspect.

"It's amazing really - an outstanding victory," said Trescothick. "I thought we played brilliantly well. Bar one session on the first day when we lost a few wickets and put ourselves under pressure we were pretty clinical throughout so I'm delighted."

Trescothick acknowledged that his team's first innings fightback from 211 for 7 had been vital. "To end up with 450 was huge because the pitch was nibbling around a bit," he said. "And then our bowlers were outstanding and we asked their batsmen a lot of questions.

"Lewis Gregory has been taking the new ball in the second team and bowling nicely and we know with Craig Meschede that when he gets on a wicket that seams about a bit he can be lethal and rip through teams."

"What we have to do next week against Derbyshire is get ourselves back into this frame of mind because if we play like this we can beat anyone. That's our challenge."

As for Middlesex, this is not the first time they have lost back-to-back Championship matches - they did so against Yorkshire and Warwickshire in mid-summer. But falling to Derbyshire last week and now disintegrating against Somerset will surely prove a double too far when it comes to trying to capture the title.

In some ways, they have done well to get this far into the race without slipping away because much of their batting has been suspect all season. Joe Denly has made it beyond fifty just three times with Dawid Malan failing to reach even that small milestone while averaging in the mid-teens.

Neil Dexter did make a century, against Sussex, but has not added to it and No. 6 John Simpson has a best of 97 not out but not much else to write home about.

"We batted very poorly in both innings - to be bowled out twice in a day on a surface like that is unacceptable," said Fraser. "Everybody knows that. We don't have to go ranting and raving. What you hope is that it is a one off and the challenge is to make sure that next week we play a lot better and the players show the character to come through and bat as we know they can."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Samuel on August 31, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    @Lymebayrobin - I'm sure Cricket Australia would have asked if he wanted a rest. He may have looked tired, but good on him for coming back to try and help his county win the title.

    Anyway, what a game for Somerset. The sort of performance we haven't even threatened since THAT game against Warwickshire at Taunton. Fantastic to see some wickets for Gregory and Meschede. Only cloud on the horizon is Alfonso's trip off to the CLT20, but with Kirby & Trego to come back from injury & Dockrell to come in to partner Chawla on drier tracks at home we still have the tools to keep ourselves up. Hopefully we can use them well, the games against Surrey and Derbyshire are huge. A first home win wouldn't go amiss now boys!

  • Mark on August 30, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    I don't think that the comment about John Simpson is outlandish. Although he is by no means the only guilty party, he is batting at 6 and has 4x50 in 20 innings and is averaging 31.7. Take out that 97* and his figures would not be terribly impressive. You would like your #6 to score a few more runs when the side *IS* in trouble.

    Mind you, Fireball averages 32.0, Denly 26.6, Berg 26.7 and Malan 16.5. Morgan averages 32.0, but has only scored 96 runs all season. The malaise is general. It's not just playing on poor pitches at Lords (in previous seasons the fact that Lords pitches are too good has been given as as a reason why Middlesex have not been able to force wins), half their games are played elsewhere.

    There is a reason why Middlesex has so few batting bonus points this season. Once you get past Robson and Rogers, you are almost into the tail and if one or both fails the rest of the batting is horribly exposed. You don't even have a Shaun Udal to rely on for tail-end runs.

  • Trevor on August 30, 2013, 20:20 GMT

    What did I say at the start of the season? A team cannot win the county championship without any batsmen. We have the best bowling line up in the country and it is wasted because too many batsmen are living off past performances or off their potential. It is more than unacceptable audit is time for ranting and raving actually!

  • David on August 30, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    Dear Karen, my comment referred solely to John Simpson's batting returns and was in no way meant to be critical of his excellent wicket-keeping. If John is satisfied with his batting this season, then fine. But, regardless of whether or not you keep wicket, anyone who wants to (or has to) bat in the top 6 needs to make big runs on a regular basis. I wish him well for the rest of the season.

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    Dear Mr Lloyd I take exception to your comment regarding John Simpson re not much else to write home about. Considering the fact that he has more victims than anybody else in the country having finished top of the keeping stats for the last two years together with the fact that he has over 500 runs already with four scores of 50 or more. Together with the fact that he has had to keep wicket all day and found himself going in on a regular basis with the team four down for not many runs I think he has done remarkably well. Never mind nothing much else to write home about. (I take it you are a regular visitor to Lords!!)

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    So impressed with this win by Somerset. Two positive results against Derby and Surrey next and we will be safe. Notts might well need to start seriously thinking about being dragged into the mire as well.

    What really impresses me about the win is the part the youngsters played. Perhaps a few are finally stepping up to the plate? Gregory was fantastic with the new ball; reminded me of when he first burst onto the scene in the one day games. Meschede is also beginning to perform in the long stuff after a series of good performances in the 40 over competition this year. Overton, though expensive today, really is a good prospect. But, the real bonus for me is Barrow and Jones. They have both endured some tough times (I admit to my fair share of basing) but have now both scored some valuable runs this season. Could this be the break through? Perhaps in a few years when this crop are 23/24 (along with the other Overton, Dockrell and Dibble) we will have a good looking side.

  • Tom on August 30, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    Problem is, Gus, we know it's not a one-off. This middle order has been fragile for the past four years and have been bailed out repeatedly by the bowlers. Maybe it is time for ranting and raving. Or making changes.

  • John on August 30, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    Surprisingly comfortable win and surprising matchwinners for Somerset whose side looked like a bits and pieces shorter format side without 2 of their 3 best shorter format players. Is this a catalyst for a push to avoid relegation or as Morrissey once said "Just another false alarm"?

  • Mark on August 30, 2013, 15:50 GMT

    This really was a pretty poor performance by Middlesex. After the win against Durham, the fact that Middlesex would then play the bottom three was touted as being a huge advantage for Middlesex in the run-in. The reality is that these three games are turning into a nightmare, with Middlesex taking just 6 points from a possible 48.

    It is hard to know what the cause is. Apart from Steve Finn, Middlesex had their full attack and all the batsmen available. Previously Rogers and Robson have given good starts, but they could not do it this time and the middle order was unable to rescue the situation.

    Looking at Somerset in this game and in the YB40 run in, one wonders how they got into this mess in the first place. The side is still choc-a-bloc with talent. They are far too good to go down.