Bants back to his best on day one


Tom Banton showed his class and lit up the opening day of this Vitality County Championship Division One Clash between Somerset and Worcestershire at Kidderminster.

Regarded by many as a white ball specialist, the Somerset ‘keeper/batter has shown the kind of application and flair in his last two innings that should convince any doubters of his quality in the longer form of the game.

The 25-year-old got the Somerset innings back on track after Jason Holder threatened to give the hosts the upper hand.

West Indies all rounder Holder removed Andrew Umeed, James Rew and Lewis Gregory in the space of 12 deliveries immediately before tea to reduce Somerset to 181 for six. However, Banton ensured there was no collapse by producing a series of glorious strokes and brutal hitting in making 92 from 140 balls.

He had managed only 46 runs from his first four Championship innings of the summer but found his touch with 83 against Nottinghamshire at Taunton last week. His knock, plus some late order big hitting by Migael Pretorious, enabled Somerset to recover and claim two batting points before declaring late in the day.

Jake Libby and Adam Finch then safely negotiated five tricky overs.

Brett D’Oliveira won his first toss of the campaign and put the visitors into bat on a wicket with a bit more grass than last week’s game versus Durham and it was a move that paid dividends as Sean Dickson fell lbw for 16 to Matthew Waite in the eighth over. Dickson took a stride forward and aimed a stroke to leg but he was undone by a delivery which straightened on him.

Matt Renshaw was initially given a searching examination by Waite but gradually opened up with two boundaries off the former Yorkshire player. However, the return of Ben Gibbon led to a second breakthrough as Renshaw (30) was squared up by a testing delivery and Adam Hose held onto a low chance at first slip.

Joe Leach returned to the attack after lunch and picked up some tangible rewards for his earlier efforts as Tom Lammonby drove hard and perished to a sharp catch by Holder at second slip.

New batter Banton was beaten twice in an over from Waite as Worcestershire searched for further success.

That came when Holder struck just before tea when Andrew Umeed, having battled away for two and a half hours for 47, pushed forward and keeper Gareth Roderick did the rest.

James Rew (3) then nibbled at a Holder delivery and provided Roderick with another catch and it became three wickets in 12 balls for the all-rounder when Lewis Gregory played back and was lbw.

Worcestershire tried to press home the advantage after tea and there was a second wicket for Waite as Kasey Aldridge (9) went lbw to a delivery that angled in.

However, Banton continued to play with aggression and freedom and a four to third enabled him to complete a 91 ball half century.

Pretorious decided that aggression was the best policy and raced to 49 off 34 balls before the new ball denied him a half century, the safe hands of Holder low down at slip accounting for an edge off Leach.

Banton looked set for a century but on 92 he pushed Gibbon to mid off and failed to beat D’Oliveira’s direct hit to the non striker’s end.

It was a disappointing end to what was a fine innings.

The game is finely balanced after the opening day and those in attendance will be keen to see what tomorrow brings.

At the close of play, Banton said: “I rode my luck a bit today. I think it’s a wicket where if you put the ball in the right area you can get a lot out of it like Jason Holder did just before tea. My game plan this week was the same as against Nottinghamshire last week, not to counter-attack but to put the pressure back on them.

“With a club wicket, there is always enough in there and balls with your name on it. Things are going for me at the moment and long may it continue.

“The run out is just cricket. I was pretty gutted when I walked off but I wasn’t going to change the way I was playing just because I was in the 90s. It’s always about putting the team first and how I can win the game for the team.”