Somerset v Lancashire, Taunton, 3rd day September 26, 2008

Keedy ends Somerset's chance

Lancashire 248 and 122 for 0 (Chilton 76*, Horton 43*) need 60 more runs to beat Somerset 202 and 227 (Blackwell 55, Keedy 5-56)
Scorecard


Gary Keedy celebrates removing Peter Trego and he finished with five wickets in the innings © PA Photos
 
Somerset haven't played like prospective County Champions over the last three days and could finish as a low as fourth when everything is tied up tomorrow. Gary Keedy took a season-best 5 for 56 to dismiss them for 227 in their second innings, leaving Lancashire 182 to win. Mark Chilton and Paul Horton knocked off 122 with ease by the close against a dispirited home side.

Durham's progress against Kent means even if Somerset had been able to pull off a win here it wouldn't have been enough for a first title. And it wouldn't have been a great advert for the Championship - regardless of all the wet weather - if the victors had ended with just four wins. It was their batting which let them down for a second time in this match, although Keedy needs credit for the way he exploited a pitch that started to offer him some assistance.

It left Lancashire needing 182 to finish with back-to-back wins and give their Championship standing a much healthier look. Chilton and Horton had few alarms as Somerset's lingering energy was finally sapped. Lancashire's progress in their chase was slightly deceptive. Batting was hard work throughout the match, but not since the first couple of sessions has it been a lottery, yet no batsman has produced a major innings.

Lancashire's bowlers performed impressively to remove Somerset for a second time. It has been the quicks who have done most of the damage up to today, but in Keedy, Lancashire had the most potent spin option in the match and he was in action within the first hour. He finished with his first five-wicket haul since April 2007, but this hasn't been the easiest of summers for fingers spinners and he went almost a month at one stage without bowling a ball in anger.

Glen Chapple made the first breakthrough when he trapped James Hildreth with an inswinger, but shortly after Keedy was introduced he found Zander de Bruyn's outside edge with one that turned. Suddenly, with the score barely moving and two further wickets down Somerset were under severe pressure.

Peter Trego, the first-innings hero, was required to perform another rescue mission, but his attempt to break the shackles against Keedy cost him his wicket. He came down the pitch and tried to hit over mid-on, but the ball turned and he lofted it to mid-off, where Newby held well-judged catch moving backwards.

Ian Blackwell was the last major batsman left and played sensibly to try and halt the slide. He whipped an effortless boundary through midwicket off Tom Smith and thumped a handsome straight drive against Keedy, but spin was tough to score off against as Keedy conceded one-an-over before lunch. The balance was just starting to shift again as he and Craig Kieswetter added 71 for the sixth wicket before Kieswetter missed a leg-side whip and was given lbw.

Blackwell passed 1000 Championship runs for the season and went to fifty off 92 balls, but gave it away moments later with a lazy waft outside off stump. With him went Somerset's last real chance. It gave Newby his third scalp of the innings, his seventh of an impressive game, and his best match return. Like Lancashire, he has peaked in the final few weeks of the season to justify the club's youth push.

Caddick then backed up his words to the top order by sticking around for 41 balls over 7 until he was given lbw - to his clear displeasure. Charl Willoughby, a true No. 11, clubbed a six off Keedy to bring huge cheers from the local supporters before Thomas gave Keedy his fifth by reverse sweeping to point.

Somerset's last chance was early wickets, and Caddick has performed such heroics before, but he has been singularly unimpressed with recent events at the club. Chilton and Horton survived the new-ball burst and were soon picking off boundaries with ease. Blackwell is no Keedy when it comes to left-arm spin and he regularly dropped short to be cut away. For a while it looked like Lancashire would be in a position to finish the match a day early, but opted to take their time. For Somerset, it's all a massive anticlimax.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo