It’s not just at the Oval yesterday or Lord’s for the World Cup today where batsmen have found things a but on the tricky side since after two days at Chelmsford 26 wickets have fallen in overcast and humid conditions but it’s more than just poor batting. Essex are 249 ahead with 4 wickets left but soon collapse to 183 all out in 40 mins playing time leaving Somerset 267 to win in almost six sessions.
The overcast and humid conditions mean that the ball is nipping about for both Somerset and Essex bowlers – each side has its sultans of swing – Groenewald and Gregory, Porter, Siddle and Beard. Essex are batting as if they have a plane to catch almost in one day style! Every ball has to be hit either out of the ground, or have its cover knocked off – why? Patience and application will get you there! This is a pitch and conditions where you need to work hard and be prepared to wait. Wheater is especially guilty nibbles at one so far outside hips off stump that second slip would have taken the role of keeper! The rest follow like sheep. The only exception in this game from reports is Sir A’s batting on Sunday and to an extent yesterday. It makes you weep and you wonder what you’re watching – these are professionals yet…?
Somerset lose both openers inside two overs (with seven on the board); pitch has nip in it but swing and seam should see Essex home; but to have 32 wickets fall in 6 and half sessions….technique and temperament come into question + for all concerned.
Somerset are not top of the table for no reason and Hildreth and Blanton look like steadying the ship but still going for four an over! Hildreth has never played for a England and one wonders why? Blanton looks to have the potential to do so but both keep tapping the pitch like pigeons nibbling seed but this is just adding to their nervousness and mindset that the pitch is full of demons and devils being exploited by the sultans! It just sends the wrong message to the rest of the team…adding to the pressure and mental pressure. It’s been said many times…this game is played in the head.
So…why did Hildreth nudge the last ball before lunch into W heaters gloves…they had made sure this was the last ball – there was no need but Somerset lunch on 64/4.
But worse…a lot worse was to come!
The outcome was Somerset collapsing to 117 all out by 2.45pm – less than an hour after lunch. Kamizake batting, lack of application, spirit, desire, skill…you name the attribute! Hampshire collapsed badly here last week in a similar fashion but to see a second team do so badly so soon after the last fiasco of a match leads one to wonder all sorts of things. Do visiting teams want to avoid the M25 in the rush hour on their journeys home? Is the skill level in the first Division just so inept as to be bordering on scandalous? Where is the technique for test matches being learned? For all 40 wickets to fall in 7 and a half sessions of a 12 session match just beggars belief!
Most of the photos I took today show inept batting technique (Ok Gregory tried to prolong the game by hitting Harmer for three successive sixes and a few other boundaries) but I feel short changed. I know…the one day stuff is just batting gone made whereas the four day game is bowling gone mad but of the current crop of Championship players who would you ask to bat for your life?
On the evidence of the first class season to date we are in dire straits but yesterday and today belong to the sultans of swing!