Somerset edged to a nervy 52-run win over Northants in the LV County Championship, though the scoreline only told half of the story.
Having dominated play at Wantage Road for three-and-a-half days, Somerset coach Andrew Hurry will be scrutinising how Northants were allowed to surge back into the game and find themselves with a chance of victory – something that would have seemed impossible at the start of the day.
Marcus Trescothick once again silenced his doubters with a fine knock of 124 as Somerset cruised to 375 in their first innings, before the Steelbacks totalled 221 in reply. That meant that Somerset’s second innings of 249 – in which Chris Jones top-scored with 87 – was almost certainly going to be enough, leading Trescothick to declare.
Northants followed their script to the tee in the first session, but with the match all but lost, Adam Rossington (62), Andrew Hall (66), and David Willey (53), all hit half-centuries to bring the County Ground to life and almost make a mockery of Somerset’s declaration.
After tea on day four, Northants returned to the crease knowing that if Willey and Hall could stay in, there was plenty of time to reach their target. The interval appeared to interrupt their stand, though, and Willey fell lbw to Lewis Gregory, before Hall was caught by Colin Ingram off the bowling of Craig Overton.
It was ultimately Gregory’s day, despite a gallant effort from Northants’ tail-end that would make even James Anderson stand up and take notice. Gregory took five wickets in all, including that of opener James Middlebrook.
Rossington, whose score was beaten only by Willey in Northants’ first innings, may well find himself moved higher up the order having shone with the bat. Going into their crucial T20 Blast match at home to Worcestershire on Friday, Willey is also breaking into fine form, further contributing with four wickets.
While Division One survival is almost out of Northants’ reach, the result has important implications for Somerset’s title push. Yorkshire and Notts, who currently sandwich Somerset at the top of the table, will have been keeping a keen eye on proceedings, but the Taunton outfit held their nerve.
However, it proved an expensive victory, with Craig Kieswetter requiring surgery on facial injuries he sustained while batting on day one. The one-time England ODI wicket-keeper fractured his eye socket after being struck by the ball, but has not suffered any lasting damage.
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