No laughing matter as Yorkshire CCC see County Championship title hopes ended
IT WAS like something out of Laurel and Hardy.
The third day had just started when Roelof van der Merwe, the Somerset spin bowler, pulled a delivery from Yorkshire’s Tim Bresnan out towards the square-leg boundary below the players’ pavilion.
As he ran down the wicket, unsure whether the ball was going to cross the rope, the stocky van der Merwe collided with the stocky Bresnan, who was also looking in the ball’s direction.
Both men fell flat on their backsides and they can probably still hear the earth shaking in Taunton even now.
Luckily no one was hurt, there were smiles all round, and before long the incident had been viewed several thousand times on social media, for which such comical incidents are made.
Sadly for Yorkshire, it was just about the only thing that they did have to smile about on another chastening day in the south-west.
The only question going into it was whether Yorkshire would be beaten inside three days or four.
At 3.16pm we had our answer, Yorkshire subsiding to a 298-run defeat with a little over four sessions to play, a result that mathematically ended their interest in the title race.
Somerset, in contrast, moved back to the top of the First Division for the first time since their innings defeat to Yorkshire at Headingley in July.
It is now a two-horse race between Somerset and Essex; the two clubs play each other in the final round of the season at Taunton from Monday week.
For Yorkshire, it has been an encouraging season overall in Championship cricket, but this was a result and a performance that highlighted that there is still much work to be done.
After Somerset started the day on 269-5 in their second innings, a lead of 365, they progressed to 329 all-out to leave a target of 426, Yorkshire bowled out for 127 with Ben Coad unable to bat due to illness.
“It was very disappointing,” admitted Steve Patterson, the Yorkshire captain.
“I think, realistically, in the last round of fixtures, I know that we won at Scarborough against Notts, but once Somerset and Essex also won, realistically our title chances I thought were gone then to be honest.
“But, that aside, we came here hoping to win the game and confident we could do that.
“We had them at 80-6 in their first innings and were in a strong position driving the game, but their captain Tom Abell played a fantastic innings and probably made the difference really at that crucial stage of the game.
“We started our first innings well but, as has happened on more than one occasion this year, we had a bit of a nightmare hour (with the bat) and any chance of winning the game disappeared.
“But Somerset are a strong team, they know their conditions well and they exploited them well.
“They thoroughly deserved to win.”
By the time that van der Merwe and Bresnan collided in mid-pitch, Somerset had lost two wickets inside the first four overs of the morning.
Lewis Gregory danced down the track to Keshav Maharaj, the left-arm spinner, missed and was bowled, ending a sixth-wicket stand of 81 with George Bartlett, and then Dom Bess was bowled by Bresnan for a fifth-ball duck, trying to chop down on a delivery that took out off stump.
Somerset slipped to 291-8 when Bartlett also danced down the track to Maharaj, missed and was stumped, Maharaj collecting his fifth wicket of the innings when van der Merwe skied to mid-off, having reverse-swept two of Maharaj’s previous three deliveries for six.
Patterson ended the innings by dislodging two of Jamie Overton’s stumps as he swung to leg, Maharaj’s 5-122 giving him match figures of 10-176, his third ten-wicket haul in as many matches against Somerset as he moved to the top of Yorkshire’s Championship wicket-taking list this year with 38 in this, his fifth and final appearance.
Left to make 20 runs more than they had ever before chased to win a first-class match, Yorkshire lost two wickets before lunch as Adam Lyth edged to third slip and Gary Ballance fell to the final ball before the break, caught behind after being turned around by a good one from Overton.
Jonny Tattersall - opening because Will Fraine had been off the field with a knee injury sustained during the warm-ups on day two - perished just after the break, caught at first slip as he tried to leave.
Harry Brook was bowled playing back to van der Merwe, who looked more threatening than spin partner Bess, who then ran out Bresnan with a sharp piece of fielding when Tom Kohler-Cadmore pushed van der Merwe towards backward-point.
Yorkshire slid to 94-6 when Kohler-Cadmore edged Josh Davey to first slip and then to 94-7 two balls later when Davey trapped Maharaj lbw for a third-ball duck.
Davey claimed his fourth wicket when Fraine, batting at No 7 and with Lyth as his runner, propped back a return catch, and the game ended when Duanne Olivier skied Davey to backward-point, where Bess judged a superb catch running back over his shoulder, Davey ending with a career-best 5-21.