George puts Middlesex to the sword on day one
George Bartlett struck his first century of the season to give Somerset the upper hand at Lord’s after being put in on the opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Middlesex.
Bartlett, whose first four innings of the summer had yielded just 45 runs, cashed in after being dropped on 25 to share a third-wicket partnership of 183 with captain Tom Abell and transform the visitors’ fortunes.
Somerset lost both openers inside the first five overs, but Bartlett – who was eventually dismissed for 121 – and Abell oversaw their recovery to reach 325 for six at stumps, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore contributing a brisk knock of 68 from 60 balls.
Tim Murtagh and Ryan Higgins picked up two wickets apiece for Middlesex, with the others shared between Ethan Bamber and skipper Toby Roland-Jones.
Having won the toss and inserted the visitors, Roland-Jones initially justified that decision with his opening delivery, persuading Steve Davies to steer it into the hands of Stephen Eskinazi at first slip.
Eskinazi snapped up his second catch of the morning just three overs later, taking Tom Lammonby at the second attempt off Murtagh to leave Somerset in difficulties at 10 for two.
With the experienced Middlesex pair finding early movement, Abell and Bartlett had to withstand some pressure before gradually establishing control – the skipper timing his shots sweetly on both sides of the wicket.
At first, Bartlett looked less assured at the crease, struggling to get on top of Roland-Jones in particular and he was fortunate to survive when an edge off Bamber was put down by Eskinazi.
The post-lunch period developed into a race to reach the half-century mark, with Abell first to that landmark when he cut Bamber to the point boundary and his partner not too far behind.
The stroke that took Bartlett to 50 was less eye-catching – an involuntary edge off Roland-Jones that flew between wicketkeeper and first slip for four – but the 25-year-old visibly grew in confidence from that point on.
Bartlett pummelled Luke Hollman for two fours in his first over when Middlesex deviated from an all-seam attack and another crisp cover boundary off the leg-spinner took him to his century from 174 balls.
Abell looked on course to follow his team-mate to three figures until he drove at Higgins on 77 and speared to gully, where Eskinazi held on to secure a much-needed breakthrough for the hosts.
However, Kohler-Cadmore maintained his side’s momentum, clubbing Sam Robson back into the pavilion to get off the mark with a six and then thumping Murtagh for successive boundaries.
Bartlett’s innings, which lasted almost four and a half hours, eventually came to an end when he lofted Higgins towards mid-on and Roland-Jones judged the catch well, racing to his left.
But Kohler-Cadmore continued to make swift progress, leg-glancing Bamber’s full toss to the fence to bring up his half-century at exactly a run a ball – and inflicting further punishment on Murtagh as he whipped consecutive sixes over the short boundary.
The Seaxes’ player-coach had the final word, bowling Kohler-Cadmore around his legs with the next ball, but Somerset had already done enough to pocket their second bonus batting point by the time Bamber had James Rew caught behind in the penultimate over of the day.