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