Som­er­set ti­tle dreams hit af­ter Ab­bott claims record 17-wicket haul

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Cricket - By Scyld Berry at the Ageas Bowl

Hamp­shire (196 & 226) beat Som­er­set (142 & 144) by 136 runs

Som­er­set next week have one last chance to win their first cham­pi­onship ti­tle, when they host Es­sex at Taun­ton and have to beat them.

But Som­er­set will have to pick them­selves up off the floor on which they crum­pled at the hands of Kyle Ab­bott, who took 17 wick­ets for 86, the best match fig­ures for Hamp­shire ever and the best in the cham­pi­onship since 1939. Al­ways Test-class with a new ball when he hits the seam, Ab­bott was also Test­class with the old one by us­ing ful­l­length re­verse-swing.

By one reck­on­ing, Ab­bott’s fig­ures were the 10th best in all first­class cricket, but that is to in­clude games like Cam­bridge Town v Cam­bridge Univer­sity in 1844. Deduct a cou­ple of early Vic­to­rian games for which in­com­plete score­cards ex­ist and they were the eighth best.

“I reckon that is the best I can bowl. Every­thing I wanted to do worked. It just hap­pened to be one of those days – it was in­cred­i­ble,” Ab­bott (right) said.

“When it started to re­verse it got quite fun. They were un­der huge pres­sure, they are young guys search­ing for their first cham­pi­onship; we had noth­ing to lose. They cel­e­brated against us at the Royal Lon­don One-day Cup fi­nal so we wanted to give them some hard work for next week against Es­sex.”

Eng­land’s task in South Africa this win­ter will be so much eas­ier for Ab­bott’s ab­sence. He is the nat­u­ral new-ball suc­ces­sor to Ver­non Phi­lan­der, dart­ing it around very ac­cu­rately on a full length, but not the ac­tual suc­ces­sor as he is on a four-year Kolpak deal with Hamp­shire. Ab­bott signed off af­ter tak­ing 39 Test wick­ets at 22.

Eng­land played against Ab­bott, 32, on their last Test tour of South Africa but he was too nervy in the open­ing Test in his na­tive Dur­ban and never set­tled into the rhythm he had here. Ab­bott, Kag­iso Rabada, and Morne Morkel or Duanne Olivier would have been a pace at­tack as good in their own con­di­tions as Aus­tralia’s – but for the de­val­u­a­tion of the rand and the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil’s fail­ure to ring-fence pay­ments to Test play­ers as part of its dis­tri­bu­tion from global events to coun­tries.

James Vince, in one of his im­pe­ri­ous in­nings, ex­tended his overnight 102 to 142, and his ninth-wicket part­ner­ship with Ab­bott to 119. Som­er­set’s tar­get of 281 was de­mand­ing but the vis­i­tors sur­vived Ab­bott’s new-ball spell and reached 86 with­out loss.

It was their open­ing bats­man, Mu­rali Vi­jay, who brought Som­er­set’s house down. What Vi­jay had to do, as a Test opener, was to see off Ab­bott’s sec­ond spell and, as an In­dian bats­man, take on Liam Daw­son. But he went to pull a short ball and lobbed a catch to mid-on. Som­er­set half-an-hour later were 100 for seven. Tom Ban­ton’s in­nings was dis­ap­point­ing for one ex­pected to be se­lected for Eng­land’s T20 squad in New Zealand: con­fronted with a very straight mid-on, Ban­ton was too eas­ily per­suaded to aim square of the wicket and missed.

For con­spir­acy the­o­rists only, Vi­jay had scored 0, 0 and 7 in his three pre­vi­ous scores for Som­er­set, and he had played for Es­sex last sea­son …

De­stroyer: Hamp­shire cel­e­brate af­ter Kyle Ab­bott dis­misses Ge­orge Bartlett

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