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BACKLASH!! @ Taunton

By Grockle
June 16 2005

I read the headline of a Wellington paper this morning and I thought it referred to an Aussie backlash from the 20/20 errr NO. It seems it reffered to the suffering of the Australian one day side (the best in the world it seems) at the hands of the Somerset one day side because of their poor Bath Festival!! Oh Joy and Rapture!! Today we are the best in the world!!

v Australia @ Taunton (Tour Match) June 15 2005


We welcome the Australians to Taunton for a much anticipated one day game where we may see their full one day side take the field, especially after being well and truly hammered on Monday by England in the first international 20/20 here in the UK.  Ricky Ponting returns as an opponent and will lock horns with his rival for the captaincy of the county in 2006 Greame Smith and his lacklustre squad who will be looking for some glory at the expense on the men from the land of the kangaroo!

But who will we see representing the maroon of the Wyverns?  A number of the respective players, from both sides, will have been at Lords on Tuesday taking part in the Tsunami Appeal game.  Graeme and Sanath for us and Ponting, Warne (of blessed memory) and Gilchrist for Australia.  Sanath may not play it was rumoured but one would expect Smith to want to try his luck against the best side in the world.

Batsmen?  Well John Francis must want a shot at them and he will probably get it.  One would hope that Matt Wood would also get a look in (especially if SJ isn't planning to be there).  Maybe this might be the first time we see Neil Edwards in the first team this year - there has been a tradition of giving a chance to the new boys when tourists visit.  It has been criticised but what have we really got to lose in 2005?  James Hildreth and Ian Blackwell have to be part of the side and Mike Burns may sit this one out if the county really want to gamble.  What about Keith Parsons?  Surely they'll make a space for him?

With Laraman at 7 and Turner at 8 (captain if Smith doesn't - as he was the last time we beat a touring side I think - West Indies?).

But then what about the bowlers?  Caddick and Johnson were both carrying niggles (one assumes) on Sunday and may have been rested for this game.  It is very definite that Caddick  would want to play. He still sees his career with England as up for grabs and after watching Goughie earlier in the week that desire should have been heightened.  Richard J would probably also like to play but you have to balance the needs of the rest of the season against the needs of the tourist game in front of 8/9,000 people.  Will he be risked?  If these fellas have niggles then giving them treatment during the tour games and the 20/20's might be the best thing.  We don't have a lot to go for but we could do with some fit wicket-takers to give us an outside chance when the season resumes after the 20/20's

This might mean places for Gareth Andrew and even Michael Parsons against very illustrious opposition.  Simon Francis will also want to play to build on his A side place of a season ago.  As for Nixon, well we have no idea what state he is in so that is in the melting pot, but probably only an outside bet.

I think Burns may be called in if SJ isn't there and we'll go with him and Smith to open (SJ if the rumours aren't true).  Frank at 3 and KP at 4.  Blacky and Hilda will swop at 5 and 6 with Rob coming in earlier at 7 moving Lazza to 8.  They have to have some experience in the side so expect to see Caddick (I doubt they'll be able to keep him out)with Simon Francis and Johnson if he's fit but probably Andrew because he won't be.

You may see Wood instead of Burns, you may even see Edwards instead of Frank Junior but after the mauling we got at the hands of Kent, we will see the strongest bowling attack we can muster...injuries not withstanding.

The result?  We have to expect an Aussie backlash after the RoseBowl and that means we could be in for a torrid time and a big score if they bat first.  It would be brilliant if we gave them a close run, unbelievable if we got close to beating them and stupendous if we actully managed it.  I'll just be happy if we give 'em a game and we get to see 90 overs of mayhem!  Be there early!!

I posted early and then they finally put up the team;

The full Somerset team to face Australia is –

Graeme Smith (Captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, John Francis, Keith Parsons, Matt Wood, Ian Blackwell, James Hildreth, Carl Gazzard, Simon Francis, Gareth Andrew and Michael Parsons

Caddick, Johnson and McLean are all out again, hamstring, back strain, hamstring.  As someone said on the boards, "It is becoming a pain for everyone..."

Carl Gazzard gets a go, a surprise but probably a good move if the club want to keep the boy here for another season to see how things develop.  And Sanath will play as well as Mike Parsons.  Let's hope they bat first, because this side has the batting to make a game of it but I doubt we have the bowling to keep us in it at the death...Hope to be proved very very wrong and I will be made up to report a different story tomorrow evening.

The Game

7:00 am

Well it hasn't started off very promising.  It is absolutely persisting down in the Quantocks with little possibility of a break in the weather.  This could be a major problem for the club.  Unless there is a major change around in the early climate today, we could be looking at no play whatsoever.  It definitely doesn't look hopeful at the moment. 


OK give me time, it only ended about two hours ago and I may still be overwrought!

Rain rain and more rain up to about 10 o'clock. The Aussies decided to leave their Blackbrook location at about 9 so they are stuck in traffic (wonder where all that was trying to get to?) but the sun comes out and the announcement is that we will start on time!  Excellent work from the groundstaff all day - it wasn't a good day for them because the weather didn't really improve and stay that way.

So we are off at 10:45 - the Aussies did make it.  Ricky has won the toss and decided to bat -thank God we all say because at least there will be a game.  The Aussie side is not messing about either.  Hayden, Haddin (wkt), Ponting, Martyn, Katich, Clarke, Hussey, McGrath, Lee, Kasprowitcz and Watson.  They bat a long way and they just keep on coming.

Hayden and Katich open and we give the first over to Gareth Andrew in a side with limited bowling options for the South African captain's debut side against the best in the world.  But they get on with it, a boundary off the first ball of the game sets out Hayden's stall. He's an absolute mountain of a man with wonderful hands and timing...he'd scare the living daylights out of anyone. 9 runs come off the first and someone mentions that that is better than at Bath.  Simon Francis takes the second over and goes past Hayden's bat almost immediately.  In fact he goes past three times in a good first over.

One other thing to mention is that this is the first time we've seen the whole side in the same kit.  It has arrived!!  Gareth produces a much tighter second with the only major scoring shot a flashed 4 over the fielders.  But Hayden now has had his sighters and starts to open his shoulders.  He smacks back past Franky, majestically, twice in the next over.  No point in running after these, they are boundary fodder from the moment they hit the bat.  By the 7th they are 3 from 50 with Hayden on 41...and that is with very spirited outfielding.  Somerset are running, diving and scratching about for everything but Hayden is just a juggernaut and brings up 50 as Simon tries to york him.

Michael Parsons has the unenviable task of coming on first change at the River end for the start of the 9th and produces a very straight, classical 6 balls for a mere 3 - excellent start.  And then we get a breakthrough as Katich cuts Francs to Hildreth  and we take first blood at 60.  Replace Katich with Ponting and the run machine goes on.  But Mike is bowling well and Hayden has to wait until the 11th to bring up his 50 (39 balls with 8 fours) but he looks in no trouble whatsoever.

Hildreth, Wood and John Francis stand out in a very good fielding performance from the home side, nothing is getting through that isn't good and there are no mistakes anywhere.  Everyone is on task helped by a very, very slow outfield.  We try to pressure Hayden and Gazzard puts the helmet on and stands up to Parsons to keep the Aussie in his crease.  They've reached 81 by the 15th when Smith turns to his slow men bringing Sanath on then and himself for the 18th.  This is alternating with Keith Parsons who takes over from his namesake at the River until his captain relieves him.

Smith mixes and matches much more than other one day captain.  Once a batsmen seems to be over his early jitters, he keeps them guessing by rotating his bowlers almost over by over.  KP is on and off during the teens and he starts to rotate himself with Blackwell from about the 24th.  It has the effect.  Although this is partly to do with Hayden retiring to allow someone else to bat at 101 with a score of 76 (awesome to watch).  (We have to remember that this is a practice game for the visitors and they want to get as many batsmen blooded as they can - they didn't get much practice on Monday it seems!!.)  Damien Martyn arrives and helps his captain reach 144 by the halfway stage.

But the slows have put the brakes on and they aren't getting KP away either but they don't seem in any real trouble or in any hurry.  You get the impression that they could increase the tempo at any time and we would have a real hard job stopping them. We are looking at something around 320 by this stage but they are finding it harder because Smiffy is still mixing it up.  They move to 175 with 20 overs to go and we are revising our estimate to 350-ish.

Gareth Andrew returns in the 32nd and Ricky passes 50 (75 balls - shows how we pulled them back - only 3 fours) and completes the 100 partnership with 198 at the start of the 39th.  Now they staart to accelerate.  Martyn puts Smith into the Tone and passes 200. He then puts ball 2 into the adjacent car park.  But our man is not giving up and nearly cuts the Ozman in half with the third before having him stumped for 44 with ball 5.  Good stuff 211 for 3.  Clarke in, 15 overs to go GAME ON!

Gareth starts his next but, almost immediately, has to leave the field after bowling only 2 balls, the over is finished by Keith.  At about the same time, Ponting retires for 80 and is replaced by Hussey at 221 for 4.

Smith has used all seven bowlers and is rotating them almost every over as the Aussies push it.  Even so, SJ and KP only allow them to move from 240 to 261 between over 40 and over 44.  Mike Parsons returns in the 45th and has a very very quick chance missed with ball 1 but from then on, Clarke puts the boot down and they pass the 300 mark at 46.4.  Simon Francis is lashed by Hussey in the next over with a first ball six into the temporary stand and he passes 50 two balls later with a boundary (37 balls 4 fours and 1 six).  So Smith goes back to the slows.  SJ takes responsibility for the penultimate one and bowls Hussey first ball.  Haddin replaces him but the Sri Lankan keeps them down to 6 off the next 5 balls.

Smiffy himself takes the last and Clarke goes to 50 off the first ball but after a couple of two's, our captain decides he's had enough.  He pushes all fielders back to the boundaries and prepares to give Clarke the challenge of getting over them or dying.  Clarke seems ready for the contest and is nearly decieved as Smith triies to york him instead.  334 on the board, 2 balls to go and our man is playing games with them.  Cool as a cucumber!  Clarke replies with a massive six over the Old Pavilion next ball and a final two brings a close at 432 for 5.

A decent total and a hell of a target.  The Australians have had a bit of batting practice and given their bowlers a target that they believe they can defend so that they can have a run out and take a few wickets.  Excellent figures from Sanath, Ian Blackwell and Keith Parsons.  Simon Francis and Mike Parsons kept to their jobs and certainly weren't overawed by the opposition.  We didn't penetrate once again but we didn't go to pieces either.

At this point the heaven's opened and we all thought it might be over.  But because the first innings finished 35 minutes early and the showers stopped about 2:30, we could resume at 3 with no loss of overs.  50 overs to get 343.  Predictions around the ground are in the 200 to 250 range all out.

At this point we entered a parallel universe and the natural laws were removed from reality. From this point on;


3:00 PM Onwards

So - the situation -

  • Graeme Smith is making his home debut facing the best seam bowling attack in the world. 
  • Batting with an out of form Sanath Jayasuriya he needs 343 as the total in 50 overs at a rate of 6.86 per over. 
  • He is facingBrett Lee and Glen McGrath. 

We sit back and expect early blood on the pitch.

The captain manages 2 off the first over and the scoreboard packs up almost immediately in fright at the speed of Lee.  Sanath manages the first boundary of the reply with a stroke of authority.  This feels different.  It gets wierder as the South African smacks a glorious straight drive back past the bowler and both men start to pepper every boundary on the ground.  26 off the first 5 is followed by a dubious appeal in the sixth but by the 8th overMike Kasprowicz is on and Lee is off the pitch never to return. But it doesn't mean anything as we speed past 50 in 9.3 and when McGrath tries to keep SJ quiet with a quick bouncer, he finds himself hooked for 4.

Smith takes to MK and hits him for 2 fours in the 11th, just before they both take 17 off McGrath's next over!!  It is getting silly and the Australian captain is starting to talk to people a whole lot more at the end of overs.  Kasprowicz is off and Watson is makes no difference.  Smith goes to a 50 off 42 balls with 10 fours at 88 and Sanath brings up the 100 with a flashed four in the 14th before scooping the next ball deliberately over the keeper's head for another.  At 111 he follows his captain to 50 with another 4 then plonks the ball into the trees near the shop to move us to 120 at 15 overs.

Now let's put this into context at this point. 

  • We have 120. 
  • D/L says we need 77! 
  • We are 24 away from the visitor's total 10 overs later, at the halfway stage!! 

It is truly surreal and it continues as Smith is caught in the deep...but off a no ball and then his partner smacks a ball skywards which drops between three fielders who all very very very much want to catch the ball!  It is now very serious for the visitors.  Ponting is using all his international experience to get the Aussie train back on the rails and we are taking absolutely no notice.  We pass their 25 over score 11 balls later and move onto the downward slope towards Australian humiliation!! 

As we pass 150 we find ourselves facing Clarke at 167 for 0 in the 19th (told you it was surreal).  No-one is too keen to bowl but eventually Mike K takes the 20th and has to wait after ball one, as a standing ovation erupts with a home debut 100 for Graeme Smith off 68 balls with 17 magnificent fours.  Absolutely awesome.  Talk about leading from the front!!  All we hope now is that we can keep this going and SJ can also reach the same well deserved milestone.  He outlines the fact that he expects to by trying to take the 'N' out of the Ian Botham Stand sign with his next big hit!!

Hussey is brought on at the River end and SJ now takes over, flipping him into the River stand for six.  The first ball of the 23rd finds itself in the trees on the other side accompanied by Tractor talking about this being "....good practice for Scotland on Friday"!!  Then they finally get a breakthrough as Smith is stumped on 108 going for another one.  It's 197 for 1 (yes that's right) and John Francis comes to the crease needing just over 140 to win against the Australian first team!!

Now the Aussies go into high gear.  They press the new batsman unmercifully while trying to hold SJ in check - something we have problems with when we are bowling at opposing batsmen.  They are past masters.  We pass 200 but JF is finding getting going hard.  Sanath on the other hand simply motors past 100 in 77 balls with 3 sixes and 9 fours..another ovation, another awesome display.  I'm sorry, but this was worth his wages on its really was!!  225 for 1 with 26.2 overs completed!!

Ponting has to gamble and he brings McGrath back in the 27th to do something.  Preferably remove SJ...and that is what happens happens, he bounces, Sanath hooks and is caught in the River corner on the boundary.  What a performer the Australian bowler is. 

231 for 2 and the Ozmen see a glimmer of hope to bring them back from the brink.  Now the press really goes on.  At 30 overs, Ian Blackwell and John Francis have only just staggered past 236 but Blacky is not to be outdone and puts the runs needed below 100 with a six into the CA Pavilion.  Ponting knows he needs to get rid of IB and he pulls out all the stops to make that happen.  They give the two men nothing to work with.  The field is close and prowling, the bowling from McGrath and Watson is really tight.  JF can't get the ball through the ring and therefore can't give Ian enough of the strike to make an impact.  They are throttling the life out of the reply and taking away the initiative.

But we lose John instead as McGrath bowls him in the 33rd at 254. However, we also have our batting line-up and this brings out Keith Parsons, a past master in this position, to help his big hitting mate get us home.  We have strength in depth as well!  15 overs to go and 86 needed.  Keep the wickets and we have to be home!  But it isn't to be this time!  KP fails. He's LBW very early and we start to get the jitters.  The Aussies smell blood in the formof Matt Wood at 258 for 4.  But Matt has also matured and he helps IB take the score closer, to 277 with 10 overs to go.

Then disaster strikes as Ian B is bowled by Watson and we start to have deja vu about defeat from the jaws of victory and the Aussies getting out of jail free once again.  We have the relatively inexperienced James Hildreth joining the relatively inexperienced Matthew Wood being faced by the most experienced late revival one day side on the globe needing 66 off 11 and having only 5 wickets in the bank.

They do the right thing, they close up shop and take singles but the rate keeps creeping up on them as the pressure from the opposition is relentless.  It becomes an ask of 54 off 8 and they can't get it away.  Hussey returns and has Wood brilliantly caught, low down, in the deep by Clarke at 291.  We start to talk about how it doesn't really matter and we pushed them close and what do we expect.

EXCEPT that it REALLY REALLY REALLY DOES MATTER  and the fact that we may win it if it rains is so unimportant as to be almost not noticed.

Carl Gazzard joins his team-mate for the make or break bit.  They need to concentrate and not be distracted from the task at hand by the Australian tactics.  Ponting is keeping everything slow, he is talking to bowlers and moving fields to keep the guys off guard.  He knows his enemy well and is using everything to put them on the back foot.  It's 50 off 7 at 293 and we are expecting the worst.

But Carl is going for it.  He makes that abundantly clear when he takes the field on for a single and forces them into giving him four overthrows instead to bring up the 300 and it is Ponting who misses the stumps!!  James H is backing up his running and flashing at things.  We pray he doesn't run someone out or put it in a pair of Antipodean hands....there is not a lot to come and we don't even know if Gareth Andrew can bat!  It's 36 off 6 and Clarke is on again.  Hildreth is icy calm as he takes four off his first and they score off every other ball to bring the runs required down below the number of balls left for the first time.  28 off 30.

Now comes the most important over.  Kasprowicz returns for the 46th and Gazzard smack four off his first, then wafts and misses. But so do the Aussie back fielders and we get another four off the third and then are gifted another 4 runs with a schoolboy misfield in front of the Old Pavilion from the last's 12 off 24 and we are all on our feet!!

Ponting turns to Watson.  The field closes in.  Wickets or death is the choice now for the visitors!  Gazzard just strokes the first ball to the boundary as if it is practice!!  He does the same to the next in a cauldron of noise!  We hope for a third but they push a single. WE NEED THREE!!! It is a brilliant position because it allows his partner of equal stature James Hildreth to punch the fourth ball to the boundary once more to take the game and stuff the Aussies with 19 balls to go by 4 wickets!!!!

Stupendous day.  Brilliant work from the batsmen.  Solid application from bowlers under the cosh.  Total concentration and glorious strokework from the captain.  Cheeky and murderous invention from Sanath.  The guys in the middle got down to it and worked hard under extreme pressure to keep us in it and the coolness of the run chase by the young lads at the end was just the icing on the cake. Buy a paper tomorrow. it has to be in the sports section!

A lovely gesture by the visitors who all go up to the Somerset dressing room to congratulate the boys.  Later Glen McGrath admits that they have won games like this for so long that once they start to lose one they aren't really able to stop it and it is really hitting home that they may not be invincible.  Let's hope so!

Henry V's Agincourt speech about cheepness of manhood for those who were not here comes to mind but you've got this to read so its goodnight from me and......



And here is what the rest say!!

Wisden Cricinfo




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