Rain stops play at Taunton, as Yorkshire frustrated by Somerset captain Tom Abell

CRICKET wouldn’t be the perverse, ridiculous game that it is if rain hadn’t stopped play somewhere yesterday on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK.

Yorkshire's Dom Bess bowled well on his return to Somerset. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Yorkshire's Dom Bess bowled well on his return to Somerset. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

As the temperature rose above 40 degrees in some parts, it barely climbed above 30 degrees in Taunton, still warm enough but not quite the furnace-like conditions in Yorkshire and elsewhere.

In fact, it was often cloudy in the stubborn south-west, not least from lunchtime until mid-afternoon when the skies weeped rain which would have served as a godsend in the parched Broad Acres, causing a stoppage of almost two hours and the loss of 20 overs.

It was as though all those stories about roads melting and grass fires in other parts of England were little more than scurrilous rumours put about by journalists and other mischievous riff-raff; for “extreme heat” read only extreme frustration at The Cooper Associates County Ground.

In the 76 overs possible (still more than enough play, of course), on a day blown along by a nice breeze, Somerset scored 262-5 after choosing to bat.

For the benefit of any anoraks, it was the ninth time in all nine County Championship games this season that Somerset have batted first – not that it has done them much good; they went into this match second-bottom of Division One, 29 points behind sixth-placed Yorkshire.

On a good batting pitch, it was a fortuitous toss for Tom Abell to win, the captain making the most of that fortune by top-scoring with 114 not out.

Yorkshire stuck at it, though, and are well in a game that feels pretty well-poised if not yet clearly defined.

For this meeting of the two beaten semi-finalists at T20 Finals Day, with Yorkshire having lost to Lancashire, and Somerset to the eventual winners Hampshire, it was decided prior to the toss that the heatwave was not sufficiently fierce in Taunton to warrant changing/shortening the hours of play.

Counties had been given the option by the England and Wales Cricket Board to play three 90-minute sessions instead of the usual three of two hours, in order to reduce the health risks to players and spectators, and to make up that time later in the match.

But in a decision of which Brian Close would have approved, it was agreed that there was to be no faffing about and that the show would go on as usual, albeit well beyond the alloted six hours’ play, of course, with the action not finishing until 7pm.

And so, on a rather hazy morning, Yorkshire took to the field showing four changes to the side that had lost to Surrey in Scarborough last week, with batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore and off-spinner Jack Shutt making their first Championship appearances of the season, Harry Brook returning from England duty and Matty Revis recalled, with Steve Patterson (hamstring), Will Fraine, Will Luxton and James Wharton making way.

Adam Lyth captained in Patterson’s absence, with the skipper’s injury not said to be serious, as Yorkshire sought to arrest a run of two successive Championship defeats.

They got off to a decent start, Jordan Thompson striking in the seventh over when Tom Lammonby edged a drive to first slip where Kohler-Cadmore, against the club that he will be joining at the end of the season, took the catch away to his left.

There was a further breakthrough before lunch when Matthew Waite shaped one back into the pads of the Middlesbrough-born Matt Renshaw, whose dismissal for 43 from 61 balls left Somerset 66-2 in the 21st over.

Waite was the pick of the quicker men, especially during an opening burst of 7-4-5-1 before the rain came, while spinner Dom Bess was more accurate than a heat-seeking missile on his first appearance at Taunton since leaving Somerset, returning figures of 18-5-29-2.

When the action finally resumed after lunch, which the hosts took on 99-2, Kohler-Cadmore dropped an easy chance by his standards at first slip when George Bartlett, on 26, edged Shannon Gabriel.

It was tough luck on Gabriel, who again had trouble with no-balls, overstepping six times in 13 overs having done so on 16 occasions in 24 overs on his debut against Surrey, not quite the standards that Yorkshire were hoping for after signing him on a three-game contract.

Abell went to a fine half-century from 101 balls, driving handsomely through the offside and clipping welll off his legs, and received good support from Bartlett, who did not quite exude the same air of permanence.

It was no surprise, then, when Bartlett departed, around half-an-hour into the final session, top-edging a pull off Waite to Revis at long-leg, but not before he had contributed 46 to a stand of 131 with his captain in 30 overs.

Somerset fell to 201-4 when Kohler-Cadmore atoned with a quite brilliant slip catch, one-handed to his left, with the ball practically behind him, when Lewis Goldsworthy edged Bess.

The pair combined again to remove James Rew, but Abell stood firm, reaching his century from 198 balls with 12 fours and two slog-swept sixes off Shutt.