Somerset frustrated by rearguard action but finish on top


Somerset’s hopes of taking a stranglehold on this match were thwarted for large parts of day three by a valiant Hampshire rearguard action, but the hosts are still on top in this LV= Insurance County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The day started in fine style for Somerset as the hosts reduced Hampshire to 88 for six, but the tail more than wagged as the home attack were frustrated by Kyle Abbott and Felix Organ who set a new Hampshire partnership record for the ninth wicket against Somerset, eclipsing the previous best of 135, which was set at Taunton back in 1977.

On an initially frustrating day, there were definitely bright moments for Somerset. The emergence of James Rew has quite rightly made the headlines this summer, but it was two fellow 19-year-olds who caught the eye today as both Alfie Ogborne and Shoaib Bashir impressed with the ball in the morning session as the Hampshire top order were decimated.

The visitors had slumped to 152 for eight, replying to 500, from an overnight 58 for two when Abbott strode to the crease to strike 89 not out off 152 balls, including 15 fours and a six. Organ contributed a more measured, but equally valuable 97 as they shared a stand of 177.

Hampshire were eventually bowled out for 330, Bashir claiming three for 88 from 31 overs, and they were invited to follow-on.  By the close of play Hampshire were 34 for two in their second innings, still trailing by 136.

The day began with a big moment for Ogborne, who claimed his maiden First Class wicket with the fifth ball of the opening over when James Vince, on 16, edged to Tom Lammonby at third slip.

That soon became 64 for four when Nick Gubbins edged Jack Brooks to James Rew in the next over.

At 80 for four, Bashir joined the attack from the River End. He wasted no time dismissing Liam Dawson, who slog-swept a catch to Ogborne at deep mid-wicket and James Fuller, bowled playing down the wrong line.

Hampshire were suddenly 88 for six.

Ben Brown and Organ were forced to play cautiously, although Organ cleared the short boundary on the town side of ground with a slog-sweep off Bashir. The pair put together a half-century stand in 121 balls, and by the time rain took the players off on the stroke of lunch, Hampshire had reached 138 for six.

Brown fell for 39 in the first over after the interval, getting an inside edge onto his stumps to give Ogbourne a second wicket. Kasey Aldridge then had Keith Barker caught behind for 12, and the batting side were in deep trouble, still 348 behind.

However, Organ had settled meticulously to his task and found a reliable partner in Abbott, who brought up the 200 by lofting Bashir back over his head for four. Organ struck two more sixes on his way to a patient half-century, which occupied 148 balls, and the pair were still together when the second new ball was taken at 241 for eight after 80 overs.

Just before it was taken, Organ appeared to survive a sharp chance to short-leg off Dom Bess. Abbott looked untroubled in moving to a 76-ball fifty, including 10 fours, and advanced the total to 250 with a single in the same over from Brooks.

Another Abbott four, off Ogbourne, took the ninth-wicket stand into three figures from 146 balls and by tea Hampshire had progressed to 258 for eight.

The new ball had little effect and an Organ sweep for six over mid-wicket earned his side a second batting point before Abbott’s 14th four took the stand to 150.

Finally, with the total on 329, Somerset broke through as Organ advanced down the pitch to Bashir, who cleverly adjusted his length to beat the outside edge and provide Rew with a simple stumping.

Organ looked crestfallen as he dragged himself off the pitch, having worked so hard to keep his team in the game. He had battled away for four hours and 25 minutes, facing 206 balls and hitting nine fours and five sixes.

Abbott was also denied a deserved hundred when last man Mohammad Abbas was pinned lbw by Bess for a duck. There were only 14 overs left in the day and Somerset skipper Tom Abell enforced the follow-on. Abbott was sent out to open the Hampshire second innings with Fletcha Middleton and had made 15 when giving a waist-high return catch to Bashir with the score on 31. Joe Weatherley edged Bess through to Rew with only a single added and Organ walked out at number four with his team back in genuine trouble.