Somerset 202 & 227 Lancashire 248 & 122-0: Somerset say farewell to their title ambitions

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The Independent Online

It all went wrong in the finishing straight for Somerset. Perhaps they were spooked by the unfamiliar territory: their customary position is among the pack, usually not so much chasing as being tailed off.

Since being Championship runners-up in 2001 they have spent five seasons in Division Two and their form in these climactic weeks of 2008 has been of that standard.

Somerset were as pedestrian and floundering yesterday as they had been on the first two days. They lost three wickets in the morning when they needed to keep intact the eight still remaining if victory and rapidly receding aspirations to have the Championship pennant flying above a refashioned ground, were to retain a semblance of realism. In the afternoon they lost the other five.

The batting was careless and careworn. It was not as if Lancashire, at the close of yet another profoundly disappointing summer, were full of the joys of spring.

Gary Keedy found some turn, if hardly bite, but his opponents played him in a cavalier fashion. They were hardly much better against Oliver Newby, the rangy fast bowler, who returned the best match analysis of his career. Ian Blackwell played with some gumption for his seventh fifty of the season but with no gumption at all with the waft which ended his stay. He was angry, swishing his bat as he turned to go, because he recognised his familiar folly. But he had plenty of assistants of unseemly method. The title, what title?

Keedy had Zander de Bruyn caught behind pushing forward, Peter Trego caught at cover playing a daft cross batted shot, Andrew Caddick lbw despite a big stride and Steffan Jones held at the wicket essaying something unfeasible and Alfonso Thomas reverse sweeping at the last. What a mixed, untidy bag. Craig Kieswetter batted with something approaching diligence.

There was some talk of a turning pitch possibly holding up Lancashire. Rubbish, of course. Lancashire positively raced to 122 from 30 overs, their highest opening partnership of the summer in which Mark Chilton looked as fluent as he can have done for many a summer. Somerset's maiden title must wait.