They are the hot tip as the likely winners of Division One of the LV County Championship in 2011 but, in the space of just over two hours’ play at Taunton on Saturday April 16, Somerset dramatically lost fourteen wickets as they subsided to the competition’s heaviest innings defeat for ninety years.
Somerset had been the bridesmaids of 2010, finishing as runners-up in all the major competitions, and having further strengthened their squad over the winter months – including the signing of seam bowlers Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain from neighbours Gloucestershire – plus the acquisition of Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis, they started the 2011 season as the Championship’s ante-post favourites.
But like a skittish colt in a high-profile horse race at Epsom or Newmarket, they spectacularly flopped as the form book was turned upside down with Warwickshire – their opponents in the opening game at Taunton – posting 642 with three Somerset bowlers conceding over a hundred runs and Varun Chopra, who in 2010 had recorded just one fifty in eighteen innings, posting a career-best 210.
Somerset’s reply on the second evening had been modest, with the West Country side slipping to 147 for 6 by the close, but even worse followed on the Saturday morning as Chris Woakes – who had also scored a century in Warwickshire’s first innings – swiftly polished off the home side’s resistance to finish with figures of 6 for 85.
Following on, Somerset were then bustled out in the space of just 14.4 overs for 50, with Rikki Clarke taking the last five wickets at a cost of just ten runs in the space of twenty-two balls.
The upshot was a victory for Warwickshire by an innings and 382 runs – the sixth heaviest innings victory in the County Championship and the largest since Yorkshire overwhelmed Northamptonshire at Harrogate in 1921 by an innings and 397 runs.
The list below shows the ten heaviest victories by an innings in the county competition, with the record remaining Surrey’s mammoth innings and 468 runs win over Hampshire at The Oval in May, 1909.
This game saw two Surrey batsmen – Jack Hobbs and Ernie Hayes – post double hundreds as Surrey mustered 742, with four Hampshire bowlers cracking a ton, before the visitors were bundled out for 129 and 145.
Heaviest innings wins in County Championship cricket:
inns & 468 runs by Surrey v Hampshire at The Oval, 1909
inns & 455 runs by Lancashire v Hampshire at Old Trafford, 1911
inns & 452 runs by Lancashire v Somerset at Taunton, 1895
inns & 397 runs by Yorkshire v Northamptonshire at Harrogate, 1921
inns & 387 runs by Yorkshire v Derbyshire at Chesterfield, 1898
inns & 382 runs by Warwickshire v Somerset at Taunton, 2011
inns & 379 runs by Surrey v Somerset at The Oval, 1899
inns & 379 runs by Derbyshire v Sussex at Derby, 1995
inns & 378 runs by Nottinghamshire v Sussex at Trent Bridge, 1895
inns & 375 runs by Surrey v Somerset at The Oval, 1891