Abbott and Steyn signal the end for Somerset

Hampshire 148 (northeast 53, J Overton 3-22, J Davey 3-40) and 75 by 4 (C Overton 3-16) beat Somerset 106 (Abbott 5-31) and 116 (Trescothick 50, Steyn 4-34, Abbott 6-40) for six wickets
Scoring card

Somerset dropped to a two-day loss at Ageas Bowl to give Surrey a chance to seal a first Championship title since 2002 avoiding defeat in New Road.

The New Hampshire pair of Kyle Abbott and Dale Steyn acquired the 10 fields when Somerset was defeated by only 116 in his second chance, and despite a momentary shock when they were reduced to 21 for 3 chasing 75, the undefeated 25 Jimmy Adams took them to the other side of the line before five sessions had passed.

Questions will be asked about a release that provided a lot of assistance to sealers, but there would be some irony if Somerset, whose Taunton tone has been analyzed more than once in recent years, complained of excessive movement.

The conditions were gloomy enough that the searchlights would seldom go off, and hitters on both sides would look back on certain planes with little fanfare. While it is easy to see those shots in isolation, minds mix when there is noticeable movement outside of the seam and the bounce is variable.

Somerset captain, Tom Abell, had few complaints about the pitch, and finally it will be the opinion of Cricket liaison officer Wayne Noon is important. There is a possibility that this release is considered "below average", but that eventuality would not mean a points deduction for Hampshire, since it would be its first postulate in the last 12 months.

While Somerset will be disappointed to have lost less than 200 for the fourth chance in a row, his second-inning total of 116 was that low mainly due to high-quality stitching skittles.

Abbott, who now has 30 fields in the last four Hampshire games. – of which they have won three – it was exceptional during the two days. Abbott said he had "lost a little self-confidence" in the first part of the season, when he played without rhythm or confidence in his action, but here he looked like the South African international that Hampshire was so happy about. They have signed last spring.

While Marcus Trescothick stood his ground, Abbott made early inroads to leave Somerset 20-by-4 and still behind the game. He cleaned Ben Green and Tom Abell with two late inswingers, and also represented Azhar Ali and James Hildreth in a matchwinning opening spell. He finished with 6-40 to secure a fourth carry of five wickets in five innings.

At this stage of the season it is easy to reduce the Cricket Championship to a series of hypothetical permutations on how the different outcomes will affect title charges and relegation battles. But it was impossible to ignore the subplot played between Steyn and Trescothick.

The couple has less history than one might think – they played against each other only three times internationally – but when Trescothick became the first victim of Steyn's test in 2004, with an 87 mph yorker that It crashed in the middle, the prospect of them fighting in the County Championship 14 years later must have seemed a bit far fetched.

Instead, it was an exciting competition. Steyn spent most of his outburst exploring around the stump while Trescothick played inside the line of the ball again and again, and while everything untied at the other end, he remained resolute.

With the lead only 40 and Somerset eight down, Steyn then hits Trescothick in the head with a vicious short ball. After giving himself the luxury of settling down, Trescothick trimmed Steyn for four and then pulled it out for six – a shot that took him past 26,000 first-class runs – and after repeating the trick to go to a brave 50, he played in two balls later. Trescothick had won the battle, but Steyn war.

Steyn finished with four wickets, and played as well as he has since joining Hampshire as a player overseas. While the move from Morne Morkel to Surrey remains the undisputed signature of summer, the combination of the new Steyn and the resurgent Abbott, who, to channel Arsène Wenger, has been like a new signing, has helped Hampshire seal Effectively his Division One was with games against the Yorkshire and Lancashire fighters to come.

"I really have not seen a playground like that here," said Abbott. "It's unusual because it does not look very different to the tones we've played here, the grounds are playing very strange at this time of the year, which is good for me, but it's not good for first-rate hitters." [19659003] Indeed, Hampshire always seemed likely to reach its goal of 75, and despite Craig Overton's three-field burst, they had the perfect man for the Adams situation.

His 25th place with Sam Northeast – who has contributed many of the last two victories – acted as a sedative for the nerves of local fans, and Tom Alsop's late agitation took them to the limit.

Somerset now faces the challenge of leaving behind the disappointment of the last ten days in time for the day of Saturday's final. They are helped by the fact that there is a substantial change between their Championship and Explosion sides, but the disappointment in Edgbaston would mean that these last weeks have a distinctly familiar feel to the perennial bridesmaids of county cricket.


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