Somerset v Warwickshire, Taunton, 2nd day

Abell Somerset's latest local star

Tim Wigmore at Taunton

August 16, 2014

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Warwickshire 367 (Westwood 129, Overton 3-59, Gregory 3-97) and 1 for 0 lead Somerset 286 (Abell 95, Gregory 47, Jones 4-81, Patel 4-81) by 82 runs

Jeetan Patel finished with 4 for 60 in Notts' first innings, Warwickshire v Nottinghamshire, County Championship, Division One, Edgbaston, July, 17, 2013
Jeetan Patel kept Warwickshire well ahead and snuffed out Tom Abell's near-perfect debut innings © Getty Images

Somerset are a club that holds local talent in particularly high esteem. They do not come much more local than Tom Abell. He was born in Taunton, educated at Taunton School, and plays club cricket for Taunton Cricket Club. On the evidence of his first innings in professional cricket, they do not come much more talented, either.

Debut innings can prove deceptive: England's leading Test runscorer begun his Test career with a pair. But, while his colleagues departed to a series of shots so ill advised that Abell might have thought that he was still playing second team cricket, the 20-year-old displayed a composure and poise befitting his cricketing credentials.

In his career for Taunton School first XI, Abell hit 17 centuries. In 2012, his final year, he hit 1156 runs at an average of 193 apiece. It was the highest aggregate in the history of Taunton School. Abell was named Young Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year as a result; Somerset fans will hope he stays at the club rather longer than the winner three years earlier, Jos Buttler. Abell has been making copious runs for Somerset's second XI ever since, including 205 not out against MCC Universities a fortnight ago.

Only a series of unfortunate Somerset events gave Abell his opportunity. Craig Kieswetter's horrific blow to the eye; Chris Jones' sudden retirement from the game; and a knee injury to Alviro Petersen combined to create a berth. As Taunton broke into applause to welcome Abell to the wicket, the first observation was of his slight build. Short and fresh faced to boot, he might have difficulty getting into a nightclubs - not that there are any near Taunton to distract him.

Warwickshire may have thought they could intimidate him. They welcomed him to first-class cricket with a series of well-directed boundaries both from over and around the wicket, but Abell showed admirable technique to resist, accumulating unobtrusively off his legs and through steers on the offside and running assiduously between the wickets. As he grew in confidence, Abell begun to unfurl a wider range of shots: after taking 130 balls in making his first 44 runs, Abell took just 55 over his last 51.

Abell delight at debut 95

  • Tom Abell spoke of his delight about his Championship debut innings of 95.
  • A serial record breaker in schools cricket, he played with a poise that suggests he will be able to make the step up to first-class cricket.
  • "I'm delighted to have won the Wisden award and scored those runs for my school which was a big thing for me," Abell said. "But I'm under no illusions, playing for the seconds and the first team is a massive step up and it's something that I've had to take a bit of time to adapt to but now I feel that I'm there and finding that confidence in my game."
  • Predictably given his height of 5ft 8in, Warwickshire greeted his arrival with a barrage of short-pitched bowling.
  • "They obviously were looking to be pretty aggressive, which presented new challenges because it's not often that I've faced four different bowlers than can really target you upstairs. Early on I tried to get out the way and just have a nice, compact solid game. And then towards the end I was looking to be a bit more positive. The ball got a bit older which made it slightly easier."
  • He also had an international offspinner, in Jeetan Patel, to contend with. "From a spin perspective, I've never really felt such a challenge. I felt like he put me under a bit of pressure and he was very attacking."

His duel with Jeetan Patel was particularly enthralling. Abell is unlikely to have encountered an offspinner of similar quality in competitive cricket, and at the start of the innings he showed understandable discomfort against Patel: one leading edge on the legside looped up invitingly, but just out of the reach of any Warwickshire fielder. But as he became more accustomed to Patel, Abell became increasingly confident against him, cutting delightfully and on-driving with grace.

Even with only last man George Dockrell for company, the Taunton faithful were becoming increasingly convinced that they were about to witness the first hundred by a Somerset-born player on their Championship debut since Harold Gimblett in 1935. Alas, not, Abell chipped Patel straight to short midwicket on 95.

But Somerset had no right to complain. Without Abell's intervention, they might have given Warwickshire the opportunity to enforce the follow-on. Nevertheless, Warwickshire are in a position from which they will expect to give Patel the chance to spin them to victory on the final day.

Even on a day two Taunton wicket, there were signs of turn for Patel. He bowled with unremitting accuracy in the afternoon, choking Alex Barrow until he edged to short leg. Craig Overton was well taken by Jonathan Trott at midwicket attempting to seize the initiative and then - perhaps ominously - Alfonso Thomas was beaten by a beautiful delivery through the gate.

But the bulk of the damage to Somerset was the work of Warwickshire's patched-up seam attack. Even without Keith Barker, Boyd Rankin, Chris Woakes and Chris Wright, the seamers still extracted considerable life from the surface.

Their success was not confined to the ball, either: the final wicket pair benefited from Somerset's sixth dropped catch to extend their stand to 62. In his free-swinging 40, Oliver Hannon-Dalby more than doubled his previous first-class best.

Hannon-Dalby then set to work with the ball. A Marcus Trescothick hundred has underpinned three of Somerset's four Championship victories this season, but Varun Chopra greedily snaffled Trescothick's drive. That dismissal increased the onus on Nick Compton but he played on to Hannon-Dalby. No wonder some supporters resorted to asking him to predict the lottery numbers. Two balls earlier, Johann Myburgh followed his skipper in flashing to Chopra, a slip fielder of whose ilk Somerset would love, this time off Richard Jones.

His bowling provided intrigue all day. Jones bowled as if the short ball was his stock delivery. And while it leaked plenty of runs - an economy rate of 5.40 - the short ball delivered two wickets, as James Hildreth and Lewis Gregory both perished hooking.

But before his dismissal, Gregory was responsible for the most intoxicating cricket of the day. He succeeded where Overton failed in attacking Patel, twice smashing straight sixes, and swatted a six off Rikki Clarke that easily cleared midwicket. Gregory added 84 in 15 overs with Abell. His Division One statistics in 2014 - 261 runs at 32 and 40 wickets at 24 apiece - suggest that he might just be the most improved cricketer in the country.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

Shame he didn't get the ton. We've had bowlers coming through (in the last 2 years) and making an impact in the 1st team but not a batsman up until now . Hopefully Abell can make the transition pemenantly

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 21:47 GMT)

A truly brilliant knock, especially considering the circumstances: pressure of the score board, wickets down and good bowlers... well a second string attack which Somerset suffered against for some reason! Putting that aside, that was a wonderful knock on debut- well played young man. I wish you the best for the future: no pressure; no expectations, just play your game.

As for the rest... Hildy, really, another failure - the most overrated player? The top three, safe on paper, poor in reality? Somerset do flatter to deceive; it's about time one of the middle stood up for the team...

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 16, 2014, 21:40 GMT)

If the plaudits are any indication, this could be the very beginning of a stellar career. For Somerset's sake, I hope they don't let Tom Abell drift away (or be enticed away) from Taunton. It's always a thrill to any dyed-in-the-wool follower and supporter of county cricket to see counties raise their own. Once, it was almost always like that...

Posted by Paul_Somerset on (August 16, 2014, 21:05 GMT)

Abell's composure was outstanding. Certain in defence and clinical in taking whatever was on offer.

Has Nosworthy ever offered an explanation for Mybugh's continued presence on the Somerset payroll, other than the fact they knew each other in S Africa? Meschede, Groenewald and even Jamie Overton all score more runs, as well as offering quality bowling, unlike Myburgh's unused and inaccurate off spin.

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 20:01 GMT)

Abell is not a bad hockey player as well!!!

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