Somerset v Yorkshire, Specsavers Championship Div 1, Taunton, 3rd day May 17, 2016

Groenewald crows as Yorkshire's collapse signals a change in the wind

Yorkshire 306 for 9 (Lyth 106) trail Somerset 562 for 7 dec (Hildreth 166, Trescothick 97, Trego 94, Rogers 51, Allenby 51, Rashid 4-160) by 256 runs
Scorecard

Adam Lyth reached his hundred but few other Yorkshire batsmen prospered © Getty Images

"If the cockerel's arse is in the grass then it's going to rain." So revealed one of the Taunton stewards, gesturing at the weather vane on the top of St James' Church which had its back firmly turned on the exertions below on the County Ground. "That was one of the first things I was ever told when I started working here. It sounded quite rude at the time."

When the cockerel swung round just enough for play to resume under sullen skies it presaged a remarkable passage of play in which Somerset claimed five wickets for 11 runs in 29 deliveries with the second new ball. Tim Groenewald stood out on a freshened pitch, only for Yorkshire to refuse to yield in a felicitous, unbroken last-wicket stand of 69 between Steven Patterson and Jack Brooks. Somerset still lead by 256 - the follow-on seemingly inevitable - but failure to make inroads into Yorkshire's second innings has undermined their chance of victory.

Presumably such an unexpected twist would have disappointed the cockerel which can be presumed to retain a Somerset affinity, even if its roost came under attack in 2003 when Ian Blackwell, one of the cleanest hitters in the county's history, struck the church tower during the fastest first-class 200 ever made by an Englishman.

This slice of Somerset folklore will prey on a few minds on the final day. The forecast is for more prolonged bursts of rain and it won't require too many "gurt big clouds" heading for the square for Yorkshire to escape with their unbeaten record intact.

For all the late excitement at Taunton, weather interruptions combined with too many dead pitches can be expected to deliver another collection of the draws that are dominating the Championship season. Every victory stolen from this Summer of Stalemate takes on huge importance. Warwickshire won it under Nick Knight's captaincy with five wins in 2004 and a repeat could be on the cards.

Since choosing to bowl and conceding 562 for 7 Yorkshire's only task has been to save this game. Although they began this diligently enough, with 127 for 1 logged by the close of the second day, and although Adam Lyth went on to complete his hundred before lunch before edging Lewis Gregory to slip on 106, none of the other left-handers who fill Yorkshire's top five looked in form and there followed calamity against the new ball after tea before Patterson and Brooks plotted an escape route.

Lyth often prospers at Taunton and an uppercut six against Jamie Overton which damaged a chair in front of the Colin Atkinson pavilion and a cover drive against Peter Trego completed the transformation of his overnight 80 into a hundred. Others struggled: Will Rhodes fell hooking Trego and Andrew Gale's edge to slip gave left-arm spinner Jack Leach his only wicket of the day.

Regular interruptions then held the day captive, stealing 36 overs in all. It all seemed to leave Julian Cattanach, Somerset's PA announcer, somewhat disorientated. Resumptions of play were twice announced an hour later than actuality, so encouraging the theory that he was on European time, some sort of gesture perhaps towards the forthcoming EU elections. Cattanach was asked if this perhaps revealed his voting intentions, but he responded in Latin so nobody was any the wiser.

Making the best of it during such stoppages is a county cricket thing: how can it not be with the English climate and the dead tramp of contracting media coverage? If you want to change the world then Cattanach's happy knack for impromptu impressions - Margaret Thatcher morphing into Chris Eubank with barely a pause for breath - might not adequately fill your day, but it passed the time for those of lesser ambition before the skies lightened and, in what had appeared to be the dregs of the day, Somerset revived their chances of victory in a trice.

Lewis Gregory began the collapse, treating Jack Leaning to a successive lbw appeal and play and miss before having him caught at the wicket. Adil Rashid was sent back looking for a third by Gary Ballance as Tom Abell, from backward point, retrieved at third man. Tim Groenewald then took 3 for 5 in 8 balls in a controlled burst, Ballance and Liam Plunkett caught at the wicket, pushing defensively and Andrew Hodd cleaned up, middle stump.

More seemed sure to follow; nothing did. Cattanach, whose forefathers were on the wrong side at Glen Coe, left with the expression of a man inured to disappointment.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments