Somerset complete thrilling 31-run win over Warwickshire to remain in County Championship title contention

Somerset complete thrilling 31-run win over Warwickshire to remain in County Championship title contention

Somerset defeated Warwickshire by 31 runs at Taunton in a crazy County Championship fixture

Tom Hiscott

Somerset claimed victory inside seven sessions of their Division One County Championship fixute, beating Warwickshire by 31 runsat Taunton.

After 21 wickets fell on the opening day to a mix of spin and seam, a pitch liason officer was at the County Ground, yet the majority of the 17 wickets which fell on the second day came from very poor batting.

Chasing just 184 for their third win of the season, Warwickshire were 61 for eight with Jack Leach taking five wickets before a stunning fightback led by Rikki Clarke and Chris Wright put the visitors back in contention.

They required 52 runs on the final day, yet were unable to pull off the thrilling chase, losing two wickets in quick succession to fall by 31 runs to a Somerset side who have now given themselves an outside chance of challenging for the title.

Hosts fight their way to second inning 211 under misty skies

Following the carnage on day one, Somerset returned on day two with a lead of just 14, 13 overs into their second innings, having already lost Tom Abell. Abell had the unfortunate honour of losing his wicket twice on the opening day, but his opening partner Marcus Trescothick had managed to see off the new ball and looked comfortable at the crease. 

The 40-year-old shared a stand of 39 with Chris Rogers, before becoming the first scalp for Jeetan Patel in the second innings, after the spinner entered the fray five overs into the second day's play. Just three overs later, Somerset lost a third when James Hildreth was beaten by a swinging delivery from Chris Wright to fall for one, before the home side managed to arrest the slide. 

Rogers and Peter Trego managed to bat sensibly in the bowler friendly conditions, sharing a 55-run partnership against two ends of spin, before the latter was given out LBW off Patel for 31 to leave Somerset 130-4. 

Chris Rogers made 58 crucial runs for Somerset (image source: getty via cricinfo)

It was soon 169-7 as Warwickshire made inroads into the middle-order. Rogers was the fifth man out for a really-well made 58 off of 151 deliveries in what was a real skipper's knock, but unfortunately for Somerset the next two batsmen failed to show the same application. 

Lewis Gregory missed an attempted slog-sweep off of Patel to be adjudged LBW for just 11, while Ryan Davies came out with a positive mindset which cost him just seven balls into his innings when he slapped a juicy full toss from Josh Poysden straight down the throat of Patel at deep-mid wicket in a show of mindless batting. Next to go was Roelof van der Merwe, who pieced together 22 before playing a loose shot to a poor Keith Barker delivery.

Tuesday's hero Dom Bess followed up his excellent 6-28 with 25 runs down at number nine to push Somerset past 200, but after both he and Jack Leach fell, Leach to hand Patel his fifer, Somerset were all out for 211, leaving Warwickshire 184 to win. 

Wawrickshire crumble to spin, finding themselves 61-8 while chasing 184 for victory

Having watched Somerset score over 200, Warwickshire will have been confident that their first innings lead would stand them in good stead, only having to chase 184.

Before long though, it became clear that 184 would take some getting after an early collapse in their attempts of claiming victory. A solid start saw them move to 10-0 with no bother whatsoever before carnage entailed.

Ian Westwood top scored in the first innings with 34, but he could only make three in his second knock, pushing the ball straight to Rogers at mid-wicket off the bowling of Tim Groenewald.

Spin then took over, and the ever-improving Leach only needed two deliveries before picking up his first wicket. The usually dependable Jonathan Trott lost his balance when advancing, and Davies whipped off the bails to to stump the former-England man for just four. 

Ian Bell followed up his duck in the first innings with just one in the second, after edging Leach to Trescothick at slip, with Sam Hain then falling in the next over for a golden duck as Bess got in on the wicket-action.

Jack Leach cleaned up the Warwickshire middle-order (image source: getty via cricinfo)
Jack Leach cleaned up the Warwickshire middle-order (image source: getty via cricinfo)

It was soon 34-5 when debutant Matthew Lamb was bowled by Leach for one, with the left-arm spinner moving to 50 first-class wickets this season four overs later after dismissing opener Alex Mellor for 22.

The collapse continued when Barker edged a Bess delivery to Trescothick at slip to go for two, with Patel out for one just moments later to hand Leach his fifth-wicket with his 49th ball of the innings to leave Warwickshire 61-8. 

Wright and Clarke give Somerset scare, only to fall 31 runs short on third morning

With Somerset seemingly headed towards a big victory, Rikki Clarke and Chris Wright had other ideas, giving the home side the fright of their lives.

All of a sudden, the spin twins were starting to concede runs, and despite the extra half-hour being taken on the second evening to try and push through a result, no more breakthroughs came and with Clarke unbeaten on 42, and Wright on 38, Warwickshire had given themselves the chance to claim victory. 

Returning on the third morning, Somerset went with spin from both ends, yet 12 overs came to nothing, and Rogers turned to the seam of Gregory who made an instant impact. A ball outside off stump was wafted at by Wright who edged through behind to Davies with 37 runs still needed for the win.

In the next over, Leach wrapped-up the match with his sixth of the innings, removing tail-ender Josh Poysden for a duck to give Somerset a 31-run win. 

In a fairytale ending to the fixture, Marcus Trescothick broke the Somerset record for catches by a non wicket-keeper, with Poysden his 394th grab in a 23-year career with the county.