Somerset 180 and 319 for 8 (Gregory 71*, Goldsworthy 67) lead Surrey 382 (Burns 113, Jacks 88, Clark 63*) 117 runs
Second-innings resistance has hardly been Somerset’s forte this season – four previous attempts had brought an average return of 141 – so there was satisfaction to be had as they put up stiffer resistance than usual to take Surrey into a final day at Taunton. Not everybody expected such resolve and a few spectators will be regretting Wednesday morning commitments they made when pessimism was at its height on the second afternoon.
Surrey should still complete victory on a surface that remains in good shape, their deficit only 117 runs at the close with two Somerset second-innings standing – and they may need to do just that to retain their leadership of Division One with their closest pursuers, Hampshire, well placed to see off Yorkshire on the final day at the Ageas.
Goldsworthy, a 21-year-old Cornishman, is the most unsung of Somerset’s array of young batters, and the most diminutive, too, standing around 5ft 6ins, but he could yet prove himself to be the most naturally suited to the four-day game. He is an impish player, particularly strong square on the off-side, although it was his favourite shot that brought about his downfall as he was caught at the wicket against the off spin of Will Jacks. He resisted gamely in the first innings, too, for more than two hours and looked deserving of an extended run even when the Australian Matt Renshaw returns at the top of the order and James Hildreth recovers from illness.
Somerset’s opening frailties were again evident. Ben Green edged a good delivery from Dan Worrall to Ryan Patel at third slip, whilst Tom Lammonby showed signs of intent with a couple of pull shots before falling to the shot against Atkinson when he top-edged to backward point.
A three-day defeat looked likely when Abell ran himself out for 45, risking a second to Atkinson’s throw from deep backward square. Steve Davies unveiled some characteristic flourishes square on the offside, but there were some play-and-misses, too, and when Jacks had him lbw on the sweep it left him with still only one half-century this season. There will be advocates of James Rew, an England U-19 batter/keeper, and fellow left-hander to be given an opportunity, although the disadvantage of that is that Somerset’s batting order is already short of senior personnel able to offer a phlegmatic perspective in difficult times.
Roelof van der Merwe may feel slightly unfortunate to have fallen lbw to Atkinson, a marginal decision this, but Gregory grew into his innings on a beautiful Taunton evening. The most heartening sight for Somerset was probably when Overton yanked off his boot after delivering the final ball of the day, and trudged heavily from the field, but there was nothing to suggest that he won’t be fit and firing in the morning.