Somerset slump to innings defeat at Hampshire

Hampshire's Mohammad Abbas celebrates with teammates after taking a wicket against Somerset at the Ageas Bowl

Hampshire's Mohammad Abbas celebrates with teammates after taking a wicket against Somerset at the Ageas Bowl - Credit: PA

Mohammed Abbas claimed four wickets as LV= Insurance County Championship hopefuls Hampshire thumped Somerset by an innings and 113 runs inside three days.

James Fuller had torn through the top order with a trio of quickfire wickets in a brutal morning spell, before Pakistan international Abbas ripped the middle-order to claim four for 22.

Hampshire missed out on only a single bonus point to claim 23 points as they recorded only their second innings victory over Somerset – who received a single point from the match after being bowled out for 180 and 135 – since 1957.

Hampshire have only won two Championships in their history; in 1961 and 1973, with the closest they’ve come to red ball silverware since upping sticks to the Ageas Bowl a second-placed finish under the late Shane Warne’s captaincy in 2005. It has been a long 49 years.

The famed Test Match Special commentator and journalist John Arlott wrote in the Handbook that the 1961 team was “deep in run-making power, soundly equipped at all points of attack and in which every man was worth his place – a true Championship side.” 

Those words look like they could equally be applied to their modern counterparts at the end of the year based on a perfect three days.

A menacing bowling attack, led by the highly experienced Test duo of Abbas and Kyle Abbott coupled with a batting line-up which feasibly has centuries down to No.10, gives the county their best chance of a title in many a generation.

Most Read

Realistically they knew 10 wickets would likely be enough to taste victory on day three, but after a solid opening hour between Ben Green and Tom Lammonby gave the suggestion a tough day’s graft was in order.

The opening pair put on 50 in considered style, on a pitch proved placid by Hampshire’s 428, before James Fuller entered the attack to take three wickets in 22 balls.

Green was bowled through the gate, skipper Tom Abell was trapped in front trying to work to the legside and Lammonby turned a short ball behind – having twice looked uncomfortable against bouncers.

Kyle Abbott returned for his second spell of the day, only to be flayed for 12 runs in an over by Lewis Goldsworthy, before starting the next over with a James Hildreth boundary. The South African therefore celebrated with a predictable send-off when he pegged the first-innings half-century maker’s off stump back.

Post-lunch, Hampshire ran rampant and with little restraint. Abbas was Somerset’s made punisher as he Steven Davies edged to second slip to the first ball on resumption, castled Roelof van der Merwe and found Peter Siddle defending into the cordon.

Barker had Goldsworthy squared up and deflecting to first slip before the left-arm seamer turned catcher at short third man as Ned Leonard impatiently failed with a slog against Dawson’s spin.

Abbas returned again to send Marchant de Lange’s off stump for a tumble and secure the victory at 2:40pm - the first side in the country to win in 2022.

Somerset’s performance must be put in some context. Seven players were already made unavailable before travelling to Southampton before George Bartlett succumbed to a shoulder injury the day before the game and Jack Brooks woke up with an illness.

Their inexperience showed in 19 and 21-year-olds Ned Leonard and Kasey Aldridge’s bowling, with some quick, exciting stuff beset by an understandable lack of consistency. The batting also largely writhed against the triage of Abbas, Abbott and Barker.

The good news is their season starts for real against Essex next week, with the majority of their absentees set to return. Included in that throng will be Craig Overton, Jack Leach and Jack Davey – who featured for the xecond XI against Cornwall on Saturday.

Somerset captain Tom Abell said: "It is very disappointing. Coming here we were in a pretty optimistic mood particularly with how pre-season had gone. We expect more from ourselves, particularly with the bat where we haven’t given a good account of ourselves.

“They are a world-class attack and we didn’t have the answers. The most disappointing thing is that we haven’t shown enough backbone or fight.

“The opening partnership was a positive but coming in after that we let them down after their hard work. We lost wickets in clusters, we need to be better at starting our innings and show a bit more fight in the middle.

“We’ve very aware of it [problem with collapses], we tried to address it over the winter. We need to try not to panic. This is a game where we have been disappointing but I think it is more the mental aspect of the game.

"I did see strides amongst the group and we mustn’t catastrophise things ahead of a big game against Essex next week. We start our season next week now."