It was a case of more of the same at Gipsy Lane last Saturday, as Taunton CC maintained their winning momentum with another impressive eight-wicket triumph, this time over visitors Frenchay.
On a blisteringly hot afternoon, the Bristol side’s skipper, Mike Donaldson, had no hesitation in making first use of another fantastic batting track. And Donaldson and Chris Bury made steady progress against disciplined new ball spells from Tom Abell and George Cook.
It was Cook who made the breakthrough when he claimed the prized scalp of Donaldson, with a ball that nipped back a fraction and clipped the off-stump, via a slight inside edge from the left-hander’s bat.
At that stage, Frenchay were 36 for one after 10 overs. Thereafter the hosts were made to toil for another 20 overs before tasting any further success, as Bury and Matthew Barrow got to work in adding 97 runs for the second wicket, seemingly laying the foundation for what looked like being a substantial total.
However, the outlook quickly changed when off-spinner Graham Fitt found some sharp turn and bounce to have Bury stumped by Jon Kerslake for a well-made 59. The excellent Chris Greenwood then trapped Eddie Williams bang in front, before leg-spinner Josh Kelly nipped in with two wickets in his first over, including an absolute beauty that cleaned-up Callum Reid.
133 for one had therefore become 147 for five in just four overs. Soon afterwards, Abell made a difficult running catch look ridiculously easy, with Fitt chipping in with two more wickets in another super spell, as the visitors' lower order attempted to counter-attack alongside Barrow.
The Frenchay number three looked increasingly assured as he guided his side past the 200-mark, but the innings was brought to an abrupt end by the returning Cook, who blew away the tail to finish with brilliant figures of four for 20 from his nine overs. Meanwhile, Barrow was left stranded on 75 not out.
Chasing a victory target of 211 held no fears for a Taunton batting line-up brimming with confidence, led 'up top' by the 'Dynamic Duo' of Abell and Chris Davenport. Once again, the pair didn’t disappoint their supporters, as they lit-up proceedings with a sumptuous array of shots all around the ground.
There can be few more pleasing sights than that of the young Somerset batsman, Abell, in full flight, such is the purity of his stroke play - most notably the simple beauty of his signature drives through extra cover, while Davenport has lost little in comparison over recent weeks.
The young openers had added 127 runs in just 25 overs when Davenport fell for a fine 58, clipping Muhammed Ahmed straight to square-leg. Hugh Kelly (30 not out) then seized his opportunity with both hands, supporting Abell by keeping the scoreboard ticking-over in clever fashion.
Abell reached his second league century of the year with his 15th boundary. That he was out shortly afterwards for 102 was unexpected, but did little to dampen the home side’s spirits, as they raced over the line with nearly 10 overs to spare.
The short trip to Wembdon now awaits at the weekend, with Taunton hoping to further put the squeeze on leaders, Midsomer Norton, by making it five wins on the spin.
The Cooper Associates ‘Man of the Match’ award was shared by Tom Abell and George Cook.
© Cricket World 2014