Northants frustrate Somerset on day four


Northamptonshire and in particular Sam Whiteman frustrated Somerset on the final day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Somerset had one eye on the victory today as the visitors resumed on 66 for one, still trailing by 91 runs. However, a genuine captain’s innings from Sam Whiteman ensured that his side held out for a draw.

Whiteman’s first century for his side saw him finish unbeaten on 130 off 269 balls, with 14 fours and a six. The Yorkshire-born Australian left-hander, in his first season as a Championship player, batted throughout the day, receiving excellent support from Tom Taylor, who contributed 53 to an eighth-wicket stand of 79 that finally frustrated a Somerset attack, who gave their all and got no luck after beating the bat on numerous occasions. Jack Leach finished with three for 77 and match figures of six for 92.

By the time the players shook hands at 5.40pm, Northamptonshire had a lead of 154, with a possible 11 overs remaining. They took nine points from the rain-affected contest, while Somerset claimed 12.

The opening attack of Craig Overton and Lewis Gregory went past the bat several times early on, but Whiteman and nightwatchman Jordan Buckingham survived and started to look increasingly comfortable. Buckingham marked his Northamptonshire debut with an invaluable contribution, sharing a half-century stand with his skipper and facing 66 balls for his before being bowled advancing down the pitch to Leach.

By then Whiteman had reached a 104-ball fifty, with five fours and a six over mid-wicket off Leach. More importantly, 20 overs of the day had elapsed before Somerset made the breakthrough.

There was no shortage of effort or accuracy from the bowlers. Leach struck another blow when Hassan Azad, who had retired hurt with a hand injury the previous evening, offered a low return catch, having made only four.

It was 147 for three at lunch, with Northamptonshire still ten runs behind. A Saif Zaib reverse sweep off Leach early in the afternoon session levelled the scores.

A draw was looking increasingly likely but, having moved confidently to 33, Zaib carelessly lifted a ball from Overton to fine leg where Leach held a testing catch.

At 174 for four, Northants were only 17 in front. But Whiteman was well set and a pulled boundary off Gregory brought up the 200.

With a further ten added, Rob Keogh, on 14, failed to keep down a leg glance off Kasey Aldridge and Gregory held a sharp catch at backward short leg.

It was 211 for six when a thinner glance saw James Sales depart for one to Gregory, wicketkeeper James Rew diving full length to his left to hold a one-handed catch inches off the ground.

Harry Gouldstone quickly followed for a duck to another fine catch, this time by Tom Kohler-Cadmore at first slip, his task made more difficult by Overton diving in front of him to try and take the ball at second slip. The lead was only 62 but Whiteman had just completed his hundred, a study in concentration occupying 179 balls, and found a more reliable partner in Taylor, who helped take the score to 254 for seven at tea.

Somerset’s last hope was the second new ball, available one over after the interval. A chance slipped by with three runs added as Cameron Bancroft failed to hold a low catch offered to his left at second slip by Taylor, on 30, off Gregory.

Taylor progressed to a 96-ball half-century, with eight fours and a six, and by the time he was well caught by Rew down the leg-side to give the tireless Peter Siddle his first wicket, the lead was 141.

But it was Whiteman’s day. Unbeaten on 29 at the start of play, by the close he had occupied the crease for more than six and three-quarter hours, offering just one difficult chance to slip off Leach with the draw all but secured.