DAY FOUR - CLOSE OF PLAY

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 250/9d

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o & 113 a/o

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Jack Leach went past 50 Specsavers County Championship wickets for the season as Somerset achieved First Division survival with a 231-run win over Middlesex at Taunton.

The result left the visitors eyeing events at Edgbaston where only a Hampshire defeat would save them from Second Division cricket next season.

Leach finished with five for 57 as Middlesex were bowled out for 113 on the final day, from an overnight 40 for three, chasing a highly improbable 345 for victory.

Roelof van der Merwe weighed in with four for 22 and Somerset took 20 points to leapfrog Middlesex, who claimed just three, in the First Division table.

Stevie Eskinazi was first to go. Having made 16, he pushed forward to van der Merwe and edged to the kneeling Marcus Trescothick at second slip.

The 41-year-old former England opener has adopted that position in recent games to protect his back and was not praying for the victory that would keep his hopes of winning a Championship title with his beloved county alive.

The score had moved to 71 when Adam Voges played forward to Leach and edged a comfortable catch to Craig Overton at first slip.

The left-arm spinner, considered by many unlucky not to have made the Ashes squad, brought up his 50 wickets when John Simpson, who had looked to counter-attack with 2 fours and  six, fell leg-before for 19.

On a pitch that has turned throughout, van der Merwe proved an excellent selection by Somerset as third spinner. He had Paul Stirling snapped up by Overton at slip to make the score 80 for seven.

The South African all-rounder quickly followed up as James Harris top-edged a sweep and departed for 13. At 93 for eight, home supporters prepared to celebrate.

Tim Murtagh lofted a six over mid-wicket off van der Merwe before being bowled in the same over.

And when Leach had an lbw appeal against Steven Finn upheld by umpire Mike Burns it sparked wild celebrations from a Somerset team, who looked doomed to the drop before winning three of their last four matches.

It was a satisfying end to his time as Somerset director of cricket for Matthew Maynard, the club having announced last night that he is leaving. The club intend to appoint a replacement and a new head coach in the near future.

Word is that the pitch will be marked no worse than below average. And as Somerset have not had any other wicket deemed in that category over the past 12 months, there should be no question of any docked points.

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DAY THREE - CLOSE OF PLAY

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 250/9d

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o & 40/3

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Day Three of the Specsavers County Championship First Division clash between Somerset and Middlesex was halted by the weather at Taunton.

By the time steady rain set in at 1.40pm, ensuring no more play, the visitors had struggled to 40 for three in their second innings, chasing a hefty target of 345 on a pitch continuing to assist the spinners.

Jack Leach removed openers Sam Robson and Nick Compton, while Dom Bess produced a ball that turned and lifted in his first over to have Dawid Malan caught behind.

Earlier, James Hildreth had completed his 41st first class century as Somerset extended their second innings to 250 for nine before skipper Tom Abell declared.
Hildreth, who began the day on 82, was out for 109 in the chase for quick runs.

Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel finished with five for 92 and match figures of 12 for 173.

Aware that rain was forecast for the afternoon, Somerset batted positively from their overnight score of 159 for three.

Abell moved from 33 to 45 before being out to a one-day shot. Attempting to reverse sweep Patel, he guided the ball straight to Adam Voges at slip.

Steve Davies, who received his Somerset county cap during the lunch interval, fell leg before to Patel before Hildreth was bowled by James Harris, having faced 192 balls and hit 12 fours.

The innings was priceless for Somerset, not only for putting them in a strong position, but also in showing what was possible on a pitch that was the centre of controversy on day one.

Craig Overton, warmly applauded as he walked to the wicket following his Ashes tour selection, perished in a bid for boundaries, as did Dom Bess and Roelof van der Merwe, who produced a valuable cameo of 24 off 19 balls.

When he became Patel’s fourth victim of the day and fifth of the innings, Abell declared and quickly offered the new ball to left-arm spinner Leach in tandem with Overton.

Robson survived two major scares before he was out, Overton missing the wickets after fielding the first ball of the innings off his own bowling when Nick Compton called for a quick single, and Abell dropping a dolly at short cover off Leach.

The mistake didn’t prove costly as Leach got a ball to grip and Robson edged to Overton at slip with the total on 20.

Changing his pace cleverly, Leach then had Compton lbw failing to get forward to a full ball and Bess’s second delivery was too good for Malan.

The rain arrived with Somerset in a strong position, with the forecast for tomorrow dry.

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DAY THREE - TEA

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 250/9d

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o & 40/3

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Day Three of the Specsavers County Championship clash between Somerset and Middlesex was held up by rain at Taunton.

By the time an early tea was taken, the visitors had struggled to 40 for three in their second innings, chasing an hefty victory target of 345 on a pitch continuing to assist the spinners.

Jack Leach claimed two of the wickets, while Dom Bess struck in his first over of the innings, having Dawid Malan caught behind with a ball that turned and bounced.

Earlier, James Hildreth had completed his 41st first class century as Somerset extended their second innings to 250 for nine before skipper Tom Abell declared.
Hildreth was out for 109 in the chase for quick runs. Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel finished with five for 92 and match figures of 12 for 173.

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DAY THREE - LUNCH

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 250/9d

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o & 21/1

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

James Hildreth completed his 41st first class century as Somerset set Middlesex 345 to win on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship clash at Taunton.

In the final innings of his benefit year, Hildreth progressed from an overnight 82 to 109 before falling to James Harris in the quest for quick runs.

Aware of rain forecast for the afternoon, Somerset threw the bat to extend their second innings score to 250 for nine before skipper Tom Abell declared.

Ravi Patel finished with five for 92 and match figures of 12 for 173. But the fact that he turned the ball was better news for Somerset than Middlesex.

By lunch the visitors had made 21 for one, Sam Robson having been caught at slip off Jack Leach, who had previously had him dropped at short cover by Abell.

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DAY TWO - CLOSE OF PLAY

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 159/3

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Somerset built a strong position on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match with Middlesex at Taunton, knowing that victory would secure First Division survival.

The hosts closed on 159 for three in their second innings, with a lead of 253 on a pitch which, while offering less assistance to the spinners than on day one, is still turning.

Middlesex needed to reach 250 in their first innings to clinch the bonus points necessary to ensure they finished above Somerset whatever the result. Instead, they were bowled out for 142, from an overnight 18 for three, Jack Leach claiming four for 54 from 25 overs.

From that point Somerset, with a first innings lead of 94, were aware that a win would secure safety. James Hildreth led the way with 82 not out as they built steadily on their advantage.

The day began brilliantly for the home side as Adam Voges drove a catch to mid-wicket off Dom Bess, who then ran out John Simpson for a duck with a direct hit at the wicketkeeper’s end after Dawid Malan had called for a single to cover.

At that point Middlesex were 22 for five. But Malan and Paul Stirling then showed what was possible with sensible shot selection by adding 73 for the sixth wicket.

Counter-attacking when possible, Malan hit 2 sixes and Stirling one. The stand was broken when left-arm spinner Leach claimed his third wicket of the innings, pinning Malan lbw for 38.

Stirling had batted confidently for his 41 when carelessly stumped down the leg side off Leach, Steve Davies whipping off the bails and appealing successfully to umpire Mike Burns as the batsman stood his ground.

Somerset’s third spinner Roelof van der Merwe got in on the act by gaining a leg before verdict against Steve Finn as he aimed an extravagant slog-sweep to make it 117 for eight.

Lunch was taken at 127 for eight and after the interval it was Craig Overton, tipped for a place in the Ashes tour squad, who wrapped up the innings by bowling James Harris and having Ravi Patel caught at cover.

Overton finished with three for seven from 5.3 overs, having bowled quickly and accurately on a surface more conducive to spin.

When Somerset batted again young batsmen Eddie Byrom and George Bartlett fell cheaply to poor shots. But Marcus Trescothick passed 19,000 first class runs for Somerset in contributing 31 before falling lbw to a good delivery from Harris that moved into him.

By then Somerset had extended their lead to 153 and Middlesex were bowling almost as much seam as spin in an attempt to limit the scoring.

With the sun shining, Hildreth, who reached his half-century off 98 balls, with 4 fours, and skipper Tom Abell piled the pressure on Middlesex. Their unbroken stand of exactly 100 by stumps featured orthodox batting and made the pitch look benign.

Hildreth, in the last innings of his testimonial year, batted with an assurance that was matched by his partner as Abell ended the day unbeaten on 33.
Middlesex were left to bemoan the absence of injured spinner Ollie Rayner, who would surely have relished conditions, particularly on the first day.

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DAY TWO - TEA

SOMERSET 236 a/o & 70/3

MIDDLESEX 142 a/o

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Somerset are 70/3 at tea on the second day of the final Specsavers County Championship clash of the season at Taunton.

The hosts had progressed to 70 for three in their second innings, a lead of 164, and know victory will ensure survival.

That became the case when the visitors were bowled out for 142 in their first innings from an overnight 18 for three, left-arm spinner Jack Leach ending up with four for 54 from 25 overs.

Middlesex's top scoring partnership was between Paul Stirling (41) and Dawid Malan (38), who added 73 for the sixth wicket.

A pitch which had turned on day one was less helpful to the spinners and Somerset seamer Craig Overton, who is being tipped for the Ashes tour, finished with three for seven from 5.3 overs.

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DAY TWO - LUNCH

SOMERSET 236 a/o

MIDDLESEX 127/8

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Somerset claimed five Middlesex wickets on the second morning at Taunton in an action packed Specsavers County Championship clash.

Starting the day on 18 for three and needing 250 to be sure of avoiding relegation themselves, the visitors were 22 for five at one point before a stand of 73 between Paul Stirling and Dawid Malan showed what could be achieved with the bat on the turning pitch.

The wickets that fell were mainly down to batsman error. Adam Voges drove a catch to mid-wicket off Dom Bess, who then produced some brilliant fielding to run out John Simpson.

Malan made 38 before being trapped lbw by Jack Leach, who claimed a fourth wicket in the innings when Stirling was stumped down the leg-side by Steve Davies for 41.

Steve Finn fell leg-before to Roelof van der Merwe attempting a slog-sweep, but James Harris was unbeaten on 19 at lunch, with Middlesex 127 for eight and trailing by 109.

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DAY ONE - CLOSE OF PLAY

SOMERSET 236 a/o

MIDDLESEX 18/3

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel claimed a career-best seven for 81 as 13 wickets fell on an action-packed first day of the Specsavers County Championship relegation battle with Somerset at Taunton.

From a promising 193 for four, having won the toss, the hosts crashed to 236 all out, with a series of attacking shots leading to wickets. Eddie Byrom top-scored with 56, his maiden Championship half-century.

Patel bowled 29.4 overs from the River End, getting assistance from a dry first day pitch, but also capitalising on some poor batting by the Somerset middle and late order.

In reply, Middlesex were reduced to five for three, as Craig Overton removed Nick Compton and left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who was given the new ball, accounting for Stevie Eskinazi and Sam Robson.

By the close they had reached 18 for three, 218 behind, and will need to bat well tomorrow to pass Somerset’s total.

There was no sign of the dramas to come when Byrom and Marcus Trescothick almost batted through the morning session.

Byrom was dropped at slip by on 32 by Robson off Patel and went on to reach fifty off 79 balls, with 11 fours. It was the 20-year-old Zimbabwean left-hander's 14th Championship innings and he had previously been out seven times between 38 and 43.

Trescothick gave solid support and was unbeaten on 31 at lunch, which was taken after Byrom got a leading edge to Paul Stirling to give a catch to mid-off.
The afternoon session was a good contest, Trescothick falling for 37, padding up to a ball from Patel that turned sharply from outside off stump.

It was 139 for three when George Bartlett, who had lofted Patel over wide long-on for six in moving to 25, was bowled around his legs by Patel looking to sweep.

Tom Abell looked in excellent form in reaching the same score before being run out by Patel. James Hildreth turned looking for a second run to fine leg and then changed his mind, leaving his partner stranded.

Even so, the pair had played Somerset into a decent position by tea. Their innings fell apart after Hildreth, on 41, was leg-before attempting to reverse sweep Patel.

Roelof van der Merwe went first ball, caught at slip giving Patel the charge, and Craig Overton, Dom Bess and Leach followed in rapid succession, all looking to attack.

When Steve Davies was last man out, caught off another reverse sweep, Somerset appeared to have let a great position slip.

But Overton then produced an excellent opening spell that saw Nick Compton caught behind and Leach used the new ball to good effect, having Eskinazi and Robson caught by Trescothick at second slip.

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DAY ONE - TEA

SOMERSET 193/4

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Ravi Patel claimed two wickets and a run out as Somerset posted 193 for four by tea on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship clash at Taunton.

The left-arm spinner had Marcus Trescothick (37) lbw padding up and bowled George Bartlett (25) around his legs sweeping in the afternoon session, which also saw him run out Tom Abell.

The Somerset captain could not recover his ground when James Hildreth changed his mind over a second run and fell for 25.

Earlier, Somerset opener Eddie Byrom had hit his maiden Championship half-century before falling to Paul Stirling for 56 on the stroke of lunch, having shared a stand of 93 with Trescothick.

Hildreth was unbeaten on 35 at tea, having survived a major scare shortly before the interval. Sam Robson claimed a catch at first slip off Patel, but after consulting the umpires ruled the ball had not quite carried.

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DAY ONE - LUNCH

SOMERSET 93/1

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Eddie Byrom notched his maiden Specsavers County Championship half-century as Somerset enjoyed the better of the opening morning against Middlesex at Taunton.

The 20-year-old Zimbabwean left-hander hit 11 fours in reaching fifty off 79 balls and shared an opening stand of 93 with Marcus Trescothick after the hosts had won an important toss.

The stand was broken in the final over before lunch when Byrom got a leading edge to a delivery from Paul Stirling and was caught at mid-off by Adam Voges for 56.

With the pitch expected to turn, batting first should prove an advantage. Somerset selected Roelof van der Merwe as a third spinner, while Middlesex were without the injured Ollie Rayner, who would have relished conditions.

Trescothick overcame a hesitant start to look increasingly sold and was unbeaten on 31 at the interval.