WEPL Premier 2 Bristol/Somerset

Taunton Deane 173-6 beat Taunton 171 by 4 wkts

TAUNTON Deane bounced back to the top of the league following a four-wicket win away against local rivals Taunton CC at Gipsy Lane on Saturday.

The hosts opted to bat first and were restricted by Jason Squire and Matt Derham (1-25), who bowled with excellent control and precision upfront as run scoring was contained past the powerplay.

Derham was first to strike as he accounted for opener Richard Glover (10), well held by Harry Thomas at first slip.

Squire then trapped Bertie Preston (9) in front and had Charles Clist (5) caught by Tennessee Harlow at second slip at the second attempt.

The introduction of spin twins Calvin Harrison and Jamie Stephens (1-45) ensured the Deane remained in control throughout the middle overs and wickets continued to fall regularly.

Harrison held a return catch to remove Dan Quick (14), before extra bounce from the off-spin of Stephens saw Will Abell (32) chop onto his stumps.

Home skipper Hugh Kelly (16) was looking increasingly assured, but when he was Harrison’s second victim, stumped by Sam Shaikh, it was left to James Clark (41) to provide some ballast to the Taunton innings.

Inventive with his stroke-play both sides of the wicket and taking a particular liking to the off-spin of Tennessee Harlow (1-26 from 3), Clark kept the away side on their toes in the final overs and his timely departure, stumped by Shaikh off the returning Squire with four overs left, kept the chase manageable.

Harlow accounted for the excitable Jesse Vertonghen (7) as he skied a catch to Rob Pryke at deep-midwicket, before Pryke himself induced Max Toohey (2) into a loose shot to be caught at cover.

James Hayes (9) was Squire’s fourth wicket, as he was pinned in front to wrap up the Taunton innings on 171, Squire finishing with 4-22 from 9.3 overs.

The Deane felt confident but, when opener Charlie Sharland (1) was bowled early on, the visitors knew they still had work to be done.

Fellow opener Grant Davey (27) was up for the task however, as he built steadily with Harlow.

The Deane looked well set and increasingly confident when Harlow (5) was somewhat unfortunate to be caught down the leg-side looking to put away a short ball from James Hayes (1-32).

Harry Thomas (44) joined Davey and immediately set about providing impetus to the Deane chase.

A couple of monster sixes and firmly struck fours down the ground showed his intent and the Deane were nearing 100 before Davey was bowled by Will Abell (3-48).

Thomas, on 44, then skied Abell to Quick and the home side sensed they were back in a contest which was left in the balance when Harry Smith (7) departed, caught at slip from the twirlers of Max Toohey (1-33).

However, a partnership of 60 between the assured Calvin Harrison (39) and steadfast Sam Shaikh (20) moved the Deane within striking distance to take the game.

Shaikh fell caught behind off Abell but Jamie Stephens finished unbeaten on eight to see the away side took the spoils from their cross town rivals.

The Deane took 19 points from the game as they move above Winterbourne to the top of the ladder with one game to play before the halfway stage of the season.

The Deane complete the first half of the season as they welcome Midsomer Norton on Saturday, while Taunton, now second bottom, travel to North Perrott.

Special mention must go to James Clark, who performed admirably and with great courage for his 41 and then 0-31 from 10 overs, no less than 48 hours after the passing of his father Charles Clark, a great servant and fondly remembered Chairman of Somerset County Cricket Club.