SOMERSET’s bid to avoid the drop into division two of the Specsavers County championship is clearly in their own hands as they begin day three of their final match of the season against Middlesex at the County ground this morning.
The Cidermen must win this match to remain in Division One, ironically just 12 months since these two teams clashed with the title at stake.
On that occasion the Londoners came out on top in dramatic fashion, but the hosts have taken a giant stride towards ensuring no such heartache occurs again tomorrow.
Having won the toss Somerset skipper opted to bat first but saw his charges slip for 114 for 1 to 236 all out as spinner Ravi Patel claimed an impressive 7 for 81 from his 29.4 overs.
But Middlesex, knowing if they reached 250 in their first innings would game a crucial bonus batting point that would have taken them beyond Somerset’s reach, could only muster 142 all out in the face of some superb bowling from England hopefuls Craig Overton (5.3-1-7-3) and spinner Jack Leach (25-12-54-4) who took the new ball.
With The Cidermen then slipping to 59 for 3 in their second innings and murmurings concerning the pitch and a possible points deduction gathering pace James Hildreth produced a superb innings to put the state of the pitch into context.
Hildreth closed day two unbeaten on 82 and along with skipper Tom Abell had extended the hosts lead to 253 with an unbroken partnership of 100 as ended the day on 159 for 3.
With a huge lead likely and Leach and Dom Bess set to twirl their magic, The Cidermen appear well set to bank the 20 points and subsequent Division One status sometime tomorrow.
There was further cheer for Somerset with the news that the uncapped Craig Overton had been named in the England Ashes squad to tour Australia later in the year.
However, left arm spinner Jack Leach has once again been omitted – a decision which will trigger wrath for the ECB selection committee from the majority of the South West.