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Somerset batters seal deserved draw led by Kasey Aldridge fifty

Never easy, never serene but his dreamy back-foot fours off James Anderson helped make it reality

Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards
23-Apr-2023
Kasey Aldridge scored an unbeaten fifty, Somerset vs Lancashire, County Championship, Division One, Taunton, April 23, 2023

Kasey Aldridge scored an unbeaten fifty  •  Getty Images

Somerset 441 (Abell 151, Rew 117, Anderson 5-76) and 256 for 6 (Aldridge 58*, Rew 47, Abell 40, Bailey 3-49) drew with Lancashire 554 (Jennings 189*, Bohannon 85, Wells 82)
It was never easy, it was never serene and until Kasey Aldridge drove James Anderson for a couple of dreamy back-foot fours quite late in the evening session, it never looked anything like certain, but Somerset's batters secured a draw they probably deserved on this final day at Taunton. And whatever they might say to the media, the county's director of cricket, Andy Hurry, and the head coach, Jason Kerr, will be grateful for an outcome that had looked unlikely less than ten overs into the day when the frailties of the home side's batters were plain, the ball was still newish and Tom Abell's team were over 60 runs in arrears.
Needing to clear a deficit of 113, Somerset would have probably settled for being two down at lunch; instead, they lost three wickets in successive overs before most people on the County Ground had finished their first coffee. The only unexpected aspect of this rapid tumble was that Tom Bailey, rather than Anderson had authored two of the successes and even that did not surprise Lancashire supporters who have long thought Bailey one of the best bowlers on the circuit. His removal of Tom Lammonby and Cameron Bancroft, who were playing forward a little too hard handedly outside the off stump, were very much signature dismissals for a cricketer who rarely gives his opponents any peace.
Squeezed neatly between these successes was the departure of Sean Dickson, who shuffled across his stumps and then played outside the line in the manner of a man who is plainly out of form. Anderson will bowl far better balls for no reward.
The rest of the session saw Somerset edge their way towards the runs needed to make Lancashire bat again but they lost Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the process when the former Yorkshire player nicked George Balderson wide of Colin de Grandhomme's right, only to see the New Zealander stick out a huge paw and grab the ball. However, any satisfaction de Grandhomme felt at this grab was short-lived. A few overs later he spilled a far easier two-handed chance when James Rew was on 9 and the deficit not yet expunged. Rain then forced the players to take a slightly early lunch with Somerset eight runs to the good.
For half an hour after the resumption, Abell batted circumspectly but his young colleague rather less so. Indeed, Rew tried to whack the ball to all parts, especially off the left-arm spinner, Tom Hartley, and it should have led to his dismissal on 27 when he skied the simplest of chances to backward point where Anderson, a fine fielder, dropped the thing. No one, least of all Anderson himself perhaps, could believe it. True, when about to catch the ball he had assumed a position that recalled a person kneeling at the communion rail but even when all excuses are made, it was an utter dolly.
The error did not seem to damage Lancashire's push for victory very grievously. When Abell had made 40, Bailey slanted a full-length ball through his defence and nine overs later Rew went as well, caught at slip by Luke Wells off Hartley for 47. Nevertheless, the 19-year-old's match aggregate of 164 is testament to his ability and certainly compares well with the totals compiled by Somerset's high-profile signings in their first three matches.
And Rew's wicket was the last to fall on an afternoon when the body language of Lancashire's fielders suggested they had come to terms with this flattest of pitches having the final word. Gregory batted sensibly during his unbroken 87-run stand with Aldridge, who himself played with increasing ambition on the way to his maiden first-class fifty, something that will have encouraged home supporters who are already wondering when they will see their new signings make runs. For a while, the outcome appeared in doubt and we wondered about a late run-chase if the new ball did the trick for Lancashire. Then Aldridge stroked those two fours and it was quite plain how the game was going to end.
"I'm really pleased," said Aldridge. I have been working very hard on my batting during the winter. Although I have been seen mainly as a bowler over the last few years, I am very keen to become regarded as a genuine all-rounder. I've been batting well in the nets, but it doesn't matter there. To put runs on the board out in the middle is very important to me. Today I just tried to give myself time because there was plenty of it and there was no rush. But it was still important to get runs if we were to come out with a draw."

Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications

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