Recent Match Report – Somerset vs Lancashire 39th Match 2022

Somerset446 (Goldsworthy 130, Rew 70 van der Merwe 55) and 213 for 7 (Goldsworthy 73*, Morley 5-69) drew with Lancashire 624 for 9 dec (Jennings 318, Wells 109, Bohannon 91, van der Merwe 5-174)

It is 6.30 on the final evening of Lancashire’s County Championship match against Somerset at Southport. The game ended about an hour ago and this proud ground is relaxing in the gentle perfection of a July evening; the light is barely removed from the sharp sunshine in which Keaton Jennings plundered a triple-century on Wednesday or in which Jack Morley took five wickets today. They will be Lancashire supporters’ chief memories of this fine game but more distinct still will be the recollections of Somerset’s Lewis Goldsworthy, who made a century when the match was young and then ushered proceedings to a rather tense draw by making 73 not out in 263 minutes.

Goldsworthy’s first innings displayed his ability; his second revealed his temperament even more clearly. The 21-year-old said how much he liked Trafalgar Road on Monday evening and you can bet he loves it even more now. He is not alone. A lot can happen on a cricket ground in four days and not all of it can be recorded in a scorebook.

The volunteers are still here but the cricketers have long departed. Both teams made a swift getaway once their work was done and everyone understood why. In something like 36 hours many of these players and coaches will be in Birmingham preparing for Vitality Blast Finals Day. The transition from an exceptionally well-attended four-day match on an outground to the steaming cauldron that will be Edgbaston on Saturday must be demanding. Already they will be thinking about match-ups and Powerplays.

Meanwhile on this sacred field, ground chairman Paul Parker is making sure that chairs are cleared away and Trafalgar Road is made ready for the arrival of the two ladies’ teams for a Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy match on Saturday. The cricket festival lasts five days in Southport and people are determined not to flag now.

Plenty of spectators remain in the pavilion. They are debating whether Dane Vilas should have declared last night and no doubt they are also reminiscing about other games at Southport. What no one seems to be doubting is that this final day was far richer and far more intriguing than seemed probable when play began at eleven o’clock…when Somerset were 178 runs in arrears… and when Morley’s career-best figures were 4 for 62 at Liverpool nearly two summers and a million years ago

The first suggestion of drama came about by accident. Morley was brought on as early as the sixth over at the Harrod Drive End only because Will Williams damaged his finger in brushing against the stumps during his follow through. Immediately the ball began to grip and bounce; left-handed batters who let it go placed their faith in a pitch that suddenly warranted no such trust

In the 12th over of the innings Matt Renshaw took the wicket out of the calculation but only drove a sharp chance back to Morley, who clutched the catch to his breastbone. It was a first breakthrough but for Lancashire’s cricketers, it betokened much more. Four overs later, Steve Davies nudged the ball off his hip to leg slip where Rob Jones had anticipated the catch. Another fifteen minutes of oohs, aahs and sundry other observations followed before George Bartlett was leg before when looking to work Morley behind square. Somerset were 44 for 3 and many spectators felt their attendance on this last day had already been justified by events. They lived every ball with the cricketers. They knew Somerset have had a collapse or two in them this season. Would this be another?

For a while, it seemed not. Goldsworthy and Tom Lammonby took their side to 74 for 3 at lunch and one imagines Lancashire’s coaches were quietly telling Morley not to do anything very different but to maintain the quiet equilibrium that all spinners must possess. Whatever they said or didn’t say, it worked. Lammonby tried to reverse sweep Morley’s second ball after lunch but only gave a catch to Jennings at short leg. Yet again, the decibel level on the field increased as Lancashire’s fielders greeted every near thing, real or imagined. James Rew and Goldsworthy, meanwhile, took up where they had left off when putting on 145 three days previously. Goldsworthy reached his fifty and no wicket fell for 26 overs.

Tea came and went and suddenly 18-year-old Rew had gone as well, caught at short leg by Jennings off Morley for a 115-minute 23. All the same, the England Under 19 batter looks a fine young player, a proper cricketer for most situations. Lewis Gregory arrived and hit six fours in a 45-ball 25. His partnership with Goldsworthy took Somerset into the lead but Gregory then holed out at cover off Williams. As though overawed by the gravity of the events it was recording, the electric scoreboard stopped working and the total had to be announced to the crowd at the end of each over.

But Lancashire’s chances were diminishing. The runs/overs/wickets equation became more favourable to Somerset with every moment they survived. Roelof van der Merwe fended Luke Wood to Jennings but the game was nearly done. With seven overs left, two of which would have been lost to the change of innings, Somerset’s lead was 35 and they still had three wickets to fall. Vilas pulled off his wicketkeeper’s gauntlet and shook Goldsworthy’s hand.

And now it is gone seven o’clock. Soon it will be time to close the laptop and go in search of supper. From the pavilion there is still the vibrant hum of conversation and the clinking of glasses. “The sounds that for these fifty years have been,” wrote Edward Thomas in “Aspens”. On the outfield there is much shoving and clanking as black sightscreens are put in place. The thoughts of club members are for the present: the ladies’ game, the first team’s fortunes, the hundred or so tasks that come with clearing up after a county match….

But late on November afternoons, when the young buzzard has, with luck, returned to the outfield it calls home and when owls are in their roosts in the coppice on Regent Road, people round here will remember these four summer days when they did the state a service. They will remember that they shared these labours willingly… and they will smile quietly at the memory of it all.

Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications

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