Fifties for Tom Banton, George Bartlett seal win for Somerset against Warwickshire

Tom Banton launches a fearsome drive through the off side Getty Images

Somerset 308 (Davies 109, Bess 52*) and 258 for 5 (Banton 66, Bartlett 54*) beat Warwickshire 419 (Rhodes 82, Yates 141, Burgess 52) and 146 (Yates 53, Abell 4-39) by five wickets

In a match of ebbs and flows, the tide was ultimately strongest for Somerset, carrying them home with wickets in hand and the best part of two hours to spare after the promise of the morning ultimately came to nothing for Warwickshire.

Chasing 258 to win, Somerset had been 49 for 3 inside the first hour's play but half-centuries from their two brightest young batsmen, 21-year-old George Bartlett and 20-year-old Tom Banton, enabled them to close out a victory that trims the gap between themselves and leaders Essex to just two points.

Yorkshire, famously involved in the three-way tussle with Somerset and Middlesex that went to the last day in 2016, are not yet out of the race and the finale to this season may yet be just as dramatic, not least because Somerset's last two opponents at Taunton, either side of a visit to Hampshire, are Yorkshire and Essex, the latter in the last week of the season.

It has not escaped their captain, Tom Abell, although the task facing him now is to ensure his team adhere to the mantra of taking one match, one session at a time.

"That last game is something a lot of people have been talking about and potentially it is a great prospect, but we try not to look too for ahead," he said.

"We have two games before that and each game is massive at this stage of the year. We will take each as it comes and try not to think about anything else, try to focus on what we are doing."

He felt that this match served only to emphasise the point, the win all the more remarkable given that Somerset had to fight hard to avoid being required to follow on in the first innings after Warwickshire had piled up 419.

Even after a fine hundred by Steven Davies had given them foundation, it needed gritty partnerships between Dom Bess and each of the Overton brothers to see them past the follow-on point in the face of some testing bowling by the Warwickshire seamers.

"Warwickshire are a good side who had us in trouble in this match and that is the nature of this division, which is why you need to be on the money every session of every game you play," Abell said. "We can't afford to have sessions like we did on the first day.

"But we do talk about that a lot, how we answer it when our backs are to the wall, and it really does give me a lot of satisfaction to see how we were able to come back from that position. It showed great character.

"The partnership between Dom Bess and Craig Overton on day two came at a crucial phase of the match. Avoiding the follow-on was massive and then that spell from Jamie Overton yesterday, the kind of spell we know he can deliver that turn games on the end, changed the game."

The session to which he referred was the one in which Overton removed Rob Yates, Michael Burgess and Henry Brookes in the space of 12 deliveries - the catalyst for a Warwickshire collapse from 107 for 4 to 146 all out, requiring Somerset to score what came down to 250 on the final day, with all wickets in hand.

On a fourth-day pitch, it was never going to be plain sailing and after losing those three wickets in the morning session, with Davies, James Hildreth and Abell all departed, the early part of the afternoon could have seen the balance tip towards the home side.

But Banton and Babar Azam battled through that phase, adding 90 for the fourth wicket, the former displaying maturity and adaptability beyond his years as he has on several occasions this summer. He faced 119 deliveries spread across two and a half hours for his 66, little more than a week after he hit five sixes in a 51-ball Twenty20 hundred.

George Garrett, another prodigious talent, bowled impressively again on his Warwickshire debut and the wicket of Babar will join his first-innings dismissal of Bartlett in taking up permanent residence in his memory.

Yet Warwickshire's bowlers as a collective bowled less well than they had at times in the first innings, offering too many opportunities for runs. They remain next to bottom of the table, although it probably matters little given Nottinghamshire's seemingly irreversible spiral towards relegation.

Jeetan Patel found some turn, getting the wicket of Banton via an inside edge onto pad and a super catch by Tim Ambrose diving forward, but could not land the ball on the right spot often enough and Bartlett and Bess were able to turn the chase into a relative stroll by the end.

Somerset 4th innings Partnerships

1st33SM DaviesTB Abell
2nd8JC HildrethTB Abell
3rd8Babar AzamTB Abell
4th90Babar AzamT Banton
5th31GA BartlettT Banton
6th88DM BessGA Bartlett