The Rain Attenuates Somerset's The Title Of Chance, Not Your Mind > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Rain dampens Somerset's title chances, not their spirit
They strolled through the gates when they opened at 9:30am, some of them having queued up well before. Into the coffee shop they went - no takeaways before the start of play at 10:30am by the way - and bagged seats invariably referred to as their usual. And while some did eventually get their coffees to go, there was no play to speak of.
They thumbed through the offerings of the book stall set-up next to the Family Stand. Crowds intermittently gathering to pick up a bargain before moving back when it was necessary to cover the wares with blue tarpaulin to save them from the elements.
Many stayed in the stands, at least until it was foolish not to seek cover. Even when they found a roof, gazes were set firmly on the unoccupied green in the middle.
Others filed back into the cafe, too, this time for something stronger in the reusable pint glasses. By the end, a number were well-oiled if unsatisfied, making do with chants for their own entertainment.
All, not just the sauced, cheered wildly at 2:30pm when the umpires walked out for an inspection that had to go their way. "Get on with it" was a regular shout before the more ubiquitous rhythms of KC and The Sunshine Band arrived with "Take the covers off, covers off, take the covers off". There were boos when both tea was announced for 3pm and then another inspection pencilled in for 4:30pm. Naturally, a degree of outrage when play (and hope) was abandoned at 4:40pm.
But while Somerset supporters traipsed off having done their best to pretend everything was going to be OK and, despite years of hurt, think play was in the offing on day three to nab that first County Championship title, their director of cricket Andrew Hurry still believed. Somehow.
"It's definitely not the end," he began. "I think it's important having demonstrated throughout the whole season that courage and conviction and the belief that we don't lose that overnight."
"We've put too much on the line for too long a period to wave the white flag."
Hurry's blueprint for the most unlikeliest of successes is flawed, as you suppose it would be with it requiring all of day four's scheduled 98 overs. We've only had 72.4 in the opening three. "Us getting runs on the board and bowling them out." He glossed over the bit where Somerset's bowlers have to find 10 Essex first innings wickets.
You cannot fault optimism, least of all his and that shown by those Somerset and true throughout the last few days. Hurry referenced this summer of "huge twist and turns". And sure, that's one reason to believe. But as telling as his hope was his example: "Look at last week".
Yep, last week, the penultimate round of the season in which Somerset lost by 136 runs to Hampshire and spurned the eight-point lead they carried into the fixture. Essex, chasing, fashioned a professional innings-and-40-run victory over Surrey and subsequently nabbed a cushion of 12 of their own.
Of course, if we see an about turn tomorrow it would be truly remarkable, more so than anything the summer has thrown up. But, it is worth remembering the team in possession of first-place do so because of immense effort rather than another's blind misfortune.
This is an Essex side with an off-spinner in Simon Harmer who has managed 83 wickets in Division One, a seamer in Jamie Porter who could well crack the 50 Championship scalps mark for the fifth season in a row.
While Somerset's attack has numbers to rival those - Lewis Gregory's 51 at 15.76 have earned him a couple of England call-ups, after all - it is the batting that sets them apart. Only two of their batsmen average over 30 - neither over 32. By contrast, four of the visiting line-up - Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Dan Lawrence and Tom Westley sit above those numbers, with the first three sitting above 40. In a summer horrendous for batting, Essex have done it better than anyone else.
It will be easy for those who have been here at Taunton to curse their luck, curse the weather and even curse the umpires who, to be fair to them, did all they could to allow the ground to get up to scratch. Throughout the summer, when Somerset were leading the table, some dared wonder if this was going to be it.
Now though, here we are, sitting in the rain, so deep into September you can hear the faint sound of The Pogues, wondering if this is the right way for the summer to end. But, on balance, it looks like one ending the right way - with Essex as County champions.
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