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Recent Match Report – Somerset vs Hampshire Group 2 2021

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Gregory, van der Merwe fill their boots after Barker’s six-wicket aperitif

Somerset 360 (Gregory 107, van der Merwe 88, Barker 6-72) vs Hampshire

Spectators were finally back at Taunton and on World Cider Day they drank in a day’s cricket which was suitably inebriating. The return must have been as uplifting as they had hoped that it would be. There was little need to turn to the scrumpy when cricket as enterprising was perfectly capable of bringing a wonderfully warm and exaggerated feeling that all was well with the world.

“I am a cider drinker… it soothes all me troubles away.” What cider claims in song, Somerset provided in sport – and have done all season, sometimes to their own detriment. They stumbled to 113 for 7 on a green wicket and then roused themselves with a transformative and vastly entertaining counter-attack from Lewis Gregory and Roelof van der Merwe that brought 171 in 35 overs.

Gregory took a century from 135 balls, reaching it on the stroke of six o’clock with the floodlights on, as Kyle Abbott offered up a tired bouncer which he pulled emphatically through square leg for four. Twice dropped at slip, he had never wavered from his attacking intent. The 1,900 Somerset members allowed in stood to offer vigorous applause, even accompanied by those looking on from the retirement apartments alongside the ground and then rose again when Abbott, his energy almost spent, bowled him for 107 with the second new ball.

Van der Merwe’s 81, from 132 balls, was also quite a contribution. It was his first innings of the summer, quite a warm-up for the T20 Blast to come, and his second-highest score for Somerset and he must also have had a century in mind when he surrendered his wicket, misjudging a single to extra cover and yards short when Brad Wheal’s throw hit direct.

This was the giddiest of stands, ambitions growing with every gulp of air, and drunk in by the most appreciative county crowd in the country who were more eager than ever to applaud every adventurous shot, even those that flew not quite where they had been intended. There can have been no more joyful Championship cricket all season. The day the crowds returned will be remembered with delight in Somerset for many years to come.

This Somerset side delights and frustrates in equal measure. The entire side plays shots like there is no tomorrow which, considering the past few years, seems a decent philosophy to have. They were still smiting at No.11 as Marchant de Lange struck the long-suffering Abbott for successive, gigantic sixes, the first into St James’ churchyard, the second flying many a mile over square leg to the longest boundary.

Somerset are maddening, yet lovable with it; talented yet flawed; a youthful side that takes years off the oldest spectators, encouraging bells to be rung and songs to be sung; a side that may not know much about Somerset’s history, but who perfectly reflect it. They need to see off Hampshire here to strengthen their hold on a top two spot in Group Two, and must do it with both Craig Overton and Jack Leach locked in England’s bio bubble on sanitiser-carrying duties.

All this must have been galling for Keith Barker, Hampshire’s formidably-built left-arm seamer. His considerable craft and calm caused Somerset’s disarray, but it was reduced to nothing more than an aperitif. His new-ball spell of 4 for 7 in nine overs took full advantage of a green pitch and by the time Steve Davies became the seventh Somerset batsman to fall, he had extended that to 6 for 27.

Barker is in the second year of a two-year contract with Hampshire after ending a decade of service with Warwickshire. He is the most languid of new-ball bowlers, his approach that is smooth rather than dynamic. But on a responsive surface, with a new ball in his hand he can kill with kindness, and when he did not swing the ball back he angled it across the right-handers with precision. All this in vivid red socks, presumably warning of danger.

By the time the first sanitising break came along after 25 minutes there had only been one scoring stroke. Davies, an emergency opener, was making a decent fist of it. But Barker smoothed his way through the batting order: left-handed Eddie Byrom bowled by one that left him; Tom Abell and James Hildreth edging balls angled across – Hildreth’s shouted “I’m an inswinger” throughout its path but still ended up in the hands of the keeper – and George Bartlett leaving an inswinger that presumably shouted nothing at all.

Somerset fleetingly recovered through Davies and Tom Banton, who is batting as low as No. 7. Davies’s square drives were in trim, Banton, not one to be suppressed by the scoreboard, played with the confidence of a batter who knows T20 is around the corner. Barker’s second spell silenced them, Banton gated by a huge inswinger from around the wicket, Davies pushing disappointingly at an outswinger when looking in command.

By the close things looked very different. Barker still had creditable figures of 6 for 72 but the support seamers had been inconsequential and Abbott, unbelievably for a bowler of his stature, had 1 for 132 in 24 overs. He may wake up stiff and bruised, too, after slipping and falling heavily in his delivery stride in the morning session.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps



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Recent Match Report – ENG Women vs IND Women Only Test 2021

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A total of five Indians are making their Test debuts in this match, their first in almost seven years

Toss England Women opt to bat against India Women

The Indian quintet of Shafali Verma, Sneh Rana, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar and Taniya Bhatia, and England batter Sophia Dunkley all made their debuts as England elected to bat at the Bristol County Ground in the one-of Test against India, who are playing their first Test in nearly seven years.

Dunkley, 22, made the XI on the back of an impressive run for the South East Stars at the recent domestic 50-over competition for the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy. Emily Arlott, another breakthrough performer from that tournament, didn’t make the cut as Heather Knight, playing her 100th match as England captain, opted for the pace of Kate Cross instead.

Verma, 17, was previously capped only in T20Is, whereas Rana, 27, returned to an Indian XI after 2016. She was picked for all three formats of the England tour following her performance in the domestic 50-over tournament earlier this year, where she topped the wicket-takers’ chart for the Mithali Raj-led Railways with 18 strikes at an average of 12.66, while scoring 160 runs at a strike rate of 123.07 from the middle order.

India picked three quicks in their line-up, with veteran Jhulan Goswami leading the attack and Shikha Pandey, dropped for the eight-match limited-overs assignment against South Africa at home in March, and Pooja Vastrakar in support roles. India opted for Rana, Sharma and part-timer Harmanpreet Kaur, the vice-captain, to shoulder the spin-bowling responsibilities. Left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht and wristspinner Poonam Yadav sat out.

For England, Georgia Elwiss pipped Fran Wilson to a spot in the XI while Lauren Winfield-Hill slotted in as Tammy Beaumont’s opening partner.

England: 1 Tammy Beaumont, 2 Lauren Winfield-Hill, 3 Heather Knight (capt), 4 Nat Sciver, 5 Amy Jones (wk), 6 Sophia Dunkley, 7 Georgia Elwiss, 8 Katherine Brunt, 9 Anya Shrubsole, 10 Sophie Ecclestone, 11 Kate Cross

India: 1 Smriti Mandhana, 2 Shafali Verma, 3 Punam Raut, 4 Mithali Raj (capt), 5 Harmanpreet Kaur, 6 Deepti Sharma, 7 Sneh Rana, 8 Taniya Bhatia (wk), 9 Jhulan Goswami, 10 Pooja Vastrakar, 11 Shikha Pandey

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha



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WI vs SA Test series

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South Africa created 14 catching chances in the first Test against West Indies and took 13 of them

Dean Elgar had asked for centuries and five-fors in his first series in charge of South Africa’s Test team and, so far, Quinton de Kock, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada have delivered. Though he didn’t say it, Elgar probably also wanted everyone to hold on to catches after South Africa spilt eight chances in their last two Test series. Cue a near-perfect performance against West Indies in the first Test, with only one chance put down, and even the things Elgar didn’t know he had wished for had come true.



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Ankeet Chavan cleared to resume playing after IPL 2013 spot-fixing ban is reduced to seven years by BCCI

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“Whichever opportunity I get to be back at the ground, I will be really eager for that”

Mumbai-based left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan has been cleared by the BCCI to resume playing professional cricket after he received a revocation letter from the board that confirmed his ban – originally for life – had been reduced to seven years.

In an email accessed by ESPNcricinfo, BCCI interim chief executive Hemang Amin confirmed that Chavan’s ban had effectively ended on September 13, 2020 based on an order received last month. The BCCI ombudsman, the email said, “has restricted the ban imposed on you from life ban to 7 years, with effect from 13 September 2013. In view of the order dated 3 May 2021, the ban imposed on you therefore ended on 13 September, 2020.”



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