LV= Insurance County Championship - 20 May 2021
Venue: Bristol County Ground
Gloucestershire v Somerset
Rain took out most of the final day at Bristol, denying Somerset the chance to press for a victory over Gloucestershire that would have taken them top of Group Two of the LV= Insurance County Championship.
They reduced their hosts to 27 for six replying to 300 for eight before persistent rain once again moved in.
It was not revenge for defeat in the return fixture at Taunton a month ago but it was significant notice that Somerset remain the team to beat in the group.
Somerset’s rally from 143 for six on the third afternoon to pick up three batting points and then six wickets in only 14.2 overs ensured a healthy 13-point return from the match with Gloucestershire taking 10 points.
Having lost Chris Dent and James Bracey on Saturday evening, the home side plunged into disaster territory on the final morning.
Craig Overton had nightwatchman Tom Smith caught on the crease and palpably lbw before Tom Lace was unfortunately strangled down the leg side second ball.
Ian Cockbain played a back-of-a-length ball into his stumps after Kraigg Braithwaite had lazily clipped Josh Davey to midwicket.
But any notion of a dramatic push for victory, the like of which Somerset have pulled off in recent seasons, was ended by the rain.
Somerset close to within just a point their rivals at the top of Group Two but have played a game more. Fixtures with Hampshire, Leicestershire and Surrey remain.
Gloucestershire endured their worst two sessions of the season so far and it will be of immense frustration to have failed to build on an excellent position on the third afternoon that would have reinforced their credentials to qualify for Division One in September.
It would be lazy and unfair to use phrases such as “reality check” and “wake up call” but no doubt they have to regroup ahead of a trip to The Oval on Thursday. Leicestershire, Hampshire and Middlesex are their other remaining opponents in the group.
They will also soon have significant holes to fill in their batting order with Brathwaite set to depart for the West Indies Test series against South Africa and Bracey called up by England.
But they remain top of the group and unbeaten after six matches and for the moment they dream, with Somerset, of a first Championship pennant.
Tom Abell’s 132 rescued three bonus points for Somerset at Bristol as the visitors made 300 for eight declared against Gloucestershire before the home side closed day three 16 for two.
With almost two days lost to rain and an horrendous forecast for day four, bonus points are the only target in this West Country derby and Abell played a true captain’s innings to see his side edge the ledger.
At 176 for 7, Gloucestershire looked set to deny their neighbours any bonus points at all before Gregory made 57 from No. 9 in a stand of 116.
Abell took Somerset to 300 before they declared, denying Gloucestershire the chance of a third bowling point with 8.3 overs remaining of the 110 bonus-point period.
With rain predicted to wipe out most of Sunday’s play, that eighth-wicket partnership should see Abell’s side edge the match tally and move a little closer to Gloucestershire at the top of group 2.
It was Abell’s eighth first-class hundred and first of the season, in 255 balls with 11 boundaries.
On a wicket playing sluggishly having been undercover for so long, he sensibly waited for anything on his legs to pick up most of his runs. He eased David Payne through cover to reach a hundred before playing the shot of his innings - a sweet straight drive off Matt Taylor.
But until Gregory arrived with a 77-ball fifty it was lone resistance as Somerset again proved brittle.
Resuming 45 for one with only 20.2 overs possible on the opening two days of the match, Bryom and Abell took the score to 85 but Payne had Byrom edging an away-swinger to first slip where Kraigg Brathwaite held a juggling catch and a slide began.
Hildreth drove at Payne, leaving a gap between bat and pad the width of the Avon Gorge, and was bowled for 15 before Worrall took three wickets in eight deliveries.
Craig Overton lost the skirmish of the allrounders as he edged Ryan Higgins behind for only 15 and at that stage, Gloucestershire were enjoying a jolly nice day in front of a healthy crowd and under blessed sunshine.
But Somerset have perfected the art of the lower-order rally, duly provided this time by Gregory.
There was time for Chris Dent to push Overton to point and James Bracey to drive and edge Josh Davey behind before the day was out.
No play was possible on the second day between Gloucestershire and Somerset at Bristol with rain falling on Nevil Road for many hours.
The umpires abandoned the day just after 3pm.
Somerset made 45 for one in 20.2 overs of day one, most of which was also lost to rain.
Just 20.2 overs were possible on the opening day between Gloucestershire and Somerset as spectators returned to Nevil Road and the visitors made 45 for one.
A healthy crowd filed in for the first Championship meeting of the sides in Bristol for the first time since 2007.
But they saw only a little over an hours play before rain set in and play was abandoned around 4.25pm.
What cricket there was saw Somerset make a steady start after losing the toss. Tom Lammonby was the only wicket to fall, run out for 3.
He dabbed leg side and set off for a single that was never there. Sent back, he was run out by a splendid direct hit by Ian Cockbain running to his left from midwicket.
After that, Tom Abell pulled Matt Taylor through midwicket and drove him down the ground for boundaries in reaching 19 not out.
Eddie Byrom was alongside him, unbeaten on 22, having driven Dan Worrall through mid-off.
Gloucestershire won the toss and elected to bowl.
Kraigg Brathwaite | Christopher Dent | James Bracey | Tom Lace | Ian Cockbain | Ryan Higgins | Miles Hammond | Tom Smith | Matthew Taylor | David Payne | Daniel Worrall |
Thomas Lammonby | Edward Byrom | Thomas Abell | James Hildreth | George Bartlett | Lewis Goldsworthy | Steven Davies | Craig Overton | Lewis Gregory | Joshua Davey | Matthew Leach |
|Somerset First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||6b 25lb 2nb 0p 0w||33|
Fall of wickets
|Gloucestershire First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||0b 0lb 2nb 0p 0w||2|
Fall of wickets