Somerset 399 (Azhar 89, Hildreth 81, Davies 80, Gregory 65, Brooks 5-116) and 339 for 7 dec (Abell 132*, Hildreth 72, Gregory 57) beat Yorkshire 320 (Hodd 85, Kohler-Cadmore 81, Davey 5-65) and 194 (Williamson 51, J Overton 4-25, Gregory 4-33) by 224 runs
They think it’s all Overton – and it is now. When Jamie Overton finally ended Yorkshire’s resistance, and Somerset secured a 224-run victory, to keep their Championship challenge bubbling, they were able to celebrate the success of a double act that has long been presented as central to the county’s future.
The Overton twins in harness, aggressively bowling Somerset to victory. For a variety of reasons, it has happened more in the minds of Somerset supporters than in reality, and down at Surrey it is the Curran brothers who have claimed the bulk of the attention, but together they took six of the eight Yorkshire wickets to fall on the final day as victory was secured with more than 26 overs remaining.
The manner in which the Overtons gingered up the game immediately after lunch when Yorkshire were making a respectable fist of batting out time insisted that although the 32-point margin behind Surrey is a sizeable one, the Championship race is still alive. Their task is to try to trim it by the time they face Surrey at Taunton on September 18. Craig is off England’s radar at the moment and Jamie’s fitness is forever under question, but if they remain fit and firing, it would be premature to write Somerset off.
“We actually haven’t played together all that much,” said Jamie. “Normally one of us has been injured. It’s nice to play together. It was a tough, slow pitch but we are both naturally very aggressive and that’s the sort of pressure you want to build. Surrey are a long way ahead, but we’ll keep pushing them.”
There was another bowler involved in Somerset’s win. Lewis Gregory, the allrounder who can currently do no wrong, added two more wickets to the two he possessed overnight to add 4 for 33 to two freewheeling innings. But it was Yorkshire’s loss of three top-order wickets for no runs in 16 balls at the start of the afternoon session that wrested the initiative. It left them with five single-figure scores in the top seven and not many matches are saved with stats like that.
Kane Williamson had begun his innings by twice hitting left-arm spinner Jack Leach for six into the sightscreen, a message that spin was unlikely to be instrumental on a slow surface offering some uneven bounce. He had reached 47 at lunch in a manner that suggested he could marshal Yorkshire’s forces, but after reaching his fifty by clipping Craig Overton through square leg, one leapt from just sort of a length and he was caught off the glove down the leg side.
In Craig Overton’s next over, Tom Kohler-Cadmore was lbw for nought, late on a fulsome drive, and then brother Jamie made his first contribution, squeezing one through the narrowest gate to hit Gary Ballance’s off stump. Jack Leaning got the best ball of the lot, as Jamie plucked out his off stump with one that left him at pace.
Williamson will not remember his latest stop-over in Yorkshire with pleasure. There was a win in the Roses match at Old Trafford, but even there his scores of 0 and 1 represented the worst combination in his first-class career. A towelling against Worcestershire at the Scarborough Festival, was as bad as it gets.
And now this. As he departs for New Zealand, to rest up ahead of the series against Pakistan in the UAE, Yorkshire are pinning their faith in the sound top-order technique of a less well-known Kiwi, Jeet Raval.
They now find themselves in the bottom two and Andrew Gale, the coach, is a dartboard for the disgruntled, but even Essex, in third, are not entirely secure so a sense of proportion is needed. Yorkshire responded this week by clearly stating their absolute faith in Gale: director of cricket Martyn Moxon termed him a “long-term investment” and called criticism of him “unjustified and uncalled for.” Gale has even become “a project” so who knows, there might even be grant aid available. Considering they are having to slash their playing budget, that would come in handy.
These are condemnatory times, especially at clubs like Yorkshire where success is expected. On Twitter this week, even Sussex’s former allrounder Luke Wright, as hard and enthusiastic a worker as there is in the game, was called out for posting a picture of a bacon-and-egg bap as he looked happily upon Lord’s on a sunny day. It appears that some supporters think that players should not eat if they make nought. Once teams would be starved of success; now they are expected to starve until they find it.
Yorkshire therefore are not just losing, they are also perceived by some of their most trenchant critics to be lacking spirit – the ultimate insult of a professional sports person. “Excuse me pal, what defines our pride and passion?” Jack Brooks had challenged one critic on the first day here. Brooks is leaving, but he is not leaving because of disenchantment, but because Somerset have offered him a three-year deal at 34.
Yorkshire are working hard to manage an awkward period of transition (how well they are doing that is a different argument altogether) but some people see things differently.
It would have been briefly uplifting for Gale to have been transported from Yorkshire’s dressing room over lunchtime, where words like pride and passion were no doubt being bandied about, to the Oxfam bookshop in Headingley, refuge of the more thoughtful fan. One wicket had been lost in the morning session, and even that had been the nightwatchman, Josh Shaw, who had played calmly for a career-best 42 before he was lbw to Gregory.
“They’re fighting, I’ll grant you that,” said one Yorkshire stalwart to his mate as he stooped to check out the second-hand fiction. It would have taken him a while to leave that bookshop because he was struggling with a mobile phone App which apparently told him whether he had read a book or not, more valuable than you might imagine. Back in the sunshine, had he been minded to check ESPNcricinfo he would have found that Yorkshire were suddenly six down, seven by the time he had retaken his seat.
Gregory’s fourth wicket was that of Andrew Hodd, the first-innings hero, who was more culpable as he played all round one from Gregory that struck his leg stump. Eight down at tea, Matthew Fisher and David Willey put on 45 in 18 overs, but Jamie Overton removed Fisher and Brooks in successive overs to claim victory.
Somerset let Willey lead them off and applauded his 34 not out. Or perhaps they applauded him because he has also accepted the job of stand-in captain while Steve Patterson is injured. Nobody else wanted the job, which is a discussion of its own. Whatever, as Willey stalked off the field, it’s not entirely certain that he enjoyed it.