Taunton CC defied the weather gods last Saturday to record their third consecutive victory, and, in the process, made it five wins out of five at Fortress Gipsy Lane this year.
However, any thoughts that the hosts would have it all their own way were quickly dispelled by a spirited Chew Magna side, who battled right to the final ball of the game.
Having been inserted in testing overhead conditions, Taunton’s burgeoning opening partnership of Tom Abell and Chris Davenport had to work hard for their runs against tight bowling with the new ball.
Nevertheless, the pair had racked-up another fifty partnership in quick time, which was only ended when Abell (32) was good enough to get a touch through to ‘keeper, Stuart Watson, in Rowan Coombs’ first over.
Thereafter, proceedings were dominated by the blade of Davenport, who went on to score a fantastic 129 from 135 balls, including 16 boundaries. He added 77 for the second wicket with a watchful Jack Cooper (20), and was then joined by George Webber, who injected fresh impetus into the innings with an excellent knock of 31, at a run-a-ball.
When Webber was stumped off the bowling of Mike Denning with the score on 193 in the 42nd over, Davenport ensured there would be no loss of momentum. He was aided by some unselfish batting by his middle order, until the young Aussie eventually ‘holed out’ on the mid-wicket fence with three overs remaining.
The home team closed on 261 for eight, with all of Chew Magna’s bowlers and fielders sticking to their task throughout.
On this occasion, in what has been a self-proclaimed 'Summer of Spin,' Taunton’s bowling effort was built almost entirely around the pace, swing and aggression of Abell and Harry Popplewell.
The new ball pairing blew away the visitors’ top order, reducing them to 23 for three after 10 overs and seemingly already out of the game.
Watson and Coombs, however, had other ideas, as they started a re-building job that would yield 107 runs for the fourth wicket.
The left-handed Watson (60), in particular, looked a batsman of real class. So it was something of a relief when a returning Popplewell produced a quick bouncer that was gloved by Watson and superbly held by a back-pedalling, then tumbling, Jon Kerslake, behind the stumps.
In his next over, Popplewell then removed Coombs' off-stump for 53 and had Charlie Thompson snaffled at silly point by Cooper without scoring.
At 135 for six with less than 18 overs left, surely that was game over? Again, though, Chew refused to lie down, as brothers, Gary and David Filer, upped the ante in a fine partnership of 78 that took their side to within striking distance of an unlikely triumph.
Finally, Abell landed the killer blow, when a perfect in-swinging yorker knocked back Gary Filer’s leg stump. His brother was left undefeated on 47 at the end, as Taunton ran out victors by a relatively slim 14-run margin.
Popplewell (four for 33) and Abell (three for 29) had been brilliant with the ball, but the Cooper Associates ‘Man of the Match’ for his second match-winning century in three outings quite rightly went to Chris Davenport.
With washouts virtually everywhere else in the region, Taunton have snuck into second spot in the League, and they will welcome Frenchay at the weekend, hoping to exert some real pressure on leaders, Midsomer Norton, during the final third of the season.
© Cricket World 2014