Nottinghamshire head to the County Ground, Taunton, looking to pick up their first county championship win there since a nine wicket success in April 1985. On that occasion honours were pretty even after each side had batted once – with Tim Robinson scoring 105 in the visitors first innings. Peter Such, with 5-73, helped skittle the hosts for 133 second time around and messrs Broad, Robinson and Randall knocked off the required runs.
Over the years Nottinghamshire have played at a number of out-grounds when visiting the ‘cider county’, including Bath, Frome, Weston-super-Mare and Yeovil but have played 31 championships matches at their county headquarters in Taunton. As in most long-term match-ups it’s the home side who hold the overall advantage. Somerset have won twelve of the meetings, Notts five, with 14 draws.
The first time the sides met at Taunton was in 1892 when the home side won by an innings. At best, Notts’ performance could be described as shocking – all out for 118 first time around and then, faring even worse, they fell for 69, destroyed by the left arm spin of Ted Tyler, who picked up 9-33 in the second innings to give him match figures of 15-96.
It was a similar story twelve months later. Notts failed to reach 200 in either innings and were well beaten again, with Tyler scooping up another nine wicket bag in the match.
On a ground that has developed a reputation as being a batter’s paradise, it’s perhaps surprising that only eight Nottinghamshire batsmen have scored championship centuries at Taunton, beginning with William Gunn, who hit 101 in 1894. Since then the ton-up guys have been;
John Clay 127 (1955), Norman Hill 106 (1967), Basharat Hassan 104 (1964), Mike Harris 163 (1975), Tim Robinson 105 (1985), Richard Hadlee 133* (1987) and most recently Jimmy Adams 144* (1994).
"History then would suggest that it won’t be easy for Nottinghamshire to emulate their success at Trent Bridge in April but if they are to start making inroads into Yorkshire’s lead at the top of the Division One table then it’s time to end that 25 year wait for victory at Taunton."
Two Nottinghamshire bowlers have claimed 7-wicket hauls at Taunton. Mark Bowen bagged 7-73 in the drawn match in 1998 but Bruce Dooland, the Australian leg break and googly bowler, spun his side to a narrow win in 1955. In pursuit of 286, the home side fell for 277 with Dooland taking 7-110.
There was another tight finish in 1984 as Somerset edged home by just 3 runs. Bruce French enjoyed a fine match behind the stumps – taking six catches in the first innings and two stumpings in the second. Chasing 297, Notts fell for 293 with Vic Marks collecting 6-111.
The fourth of Notts’ five wins on the ground came during Garfield Sobers’ first season as club captain. He took 5-31 in the first innings of the 1968 match, with all five dismissals coming via positive lbw decisions. It became a little nervy in the end before the travelling side reached their target of 103, with just three wickets in hand.
Several of the players who are likely to feature in this years tussle have shone in the last three meetings at Taunton. In 2007 Marcus Trescothick, Peter Trego and Ian Blackwell (now at Durham), all registered hundreds for the home team – with Somerset’s Michael Munday taking 8-55 to power his side to an innings victory.
Nottinghamshire’s Mark Wagh dismissed Charl Willoughby right at the end of the home teams first innings to take his 100th (and so far final!) first class wicket.
In both 2008 and last year the eventual outcome has been a draw, with Darren Pattinson (5-40) and Ryan Sidebottom (5-106) bowling well for Notts and Somerset’s Arial Suppiah (151) and Marcus Trescothick (99) amongst the runs.
History then would suggest that it won’t be easy for Nottinghamshire to emulate their success at Trent Bridge in April but if they are to start making inroads into Yorkshire’s lead at the top of the Division One table then it’s time to end that 25 year wait for victory at Taunton.
Nottinghamshire team to face Somerset: Samit Patel, Alex Hales, Mark Wagh, David Hussey, Matt Wood, Ali Brown, Chris Read (C/W), Paul Franks, Darren Pattinson, Andre Adams, Charlie Shreck