Intriguing final day in prospect after Somerset fight back

Somerset dug deep on the third day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match against Lancashire at the Cooper Associates County Ground as Lewis Gregory, Peter Siddle and James Rew lead an impressive fightback.

Lancashire captain Keaton Jennings looked set to post a big total and forge a substantial first-innings lead for his side when a hamstring injury forced him to retire on 189 not out half an hour before lunch.

Gregory and Siddle both showed great resolve in taking three for 81 and three for 97 respectively and young wicketkeeper Rew claimed six catches as Lancashire, dismissed for 554, were restricted to a lead of 113.

Somerset then started their second innings solidly as openers Tom Lammonby (20 not out) and Sean Dickson (15 not out) safely negotiated 11 overs in the gloom, six of them against England record Test wicket-taker James Anderson, to reach 41 without loss when rain forced a premature close with 30 overs unused.

Resuming on 302 for one and trailing by 139 with two batsmen well set, Lancashire’s intention at the start of the day was surely to forge a meaningful lead and bat only once.

Jennings cover drove Kasey Aldridge to the boundary with utter impunity in the first over to set the tone, the former England opener scoring at a fair old lick thereafter and raising 150 with a six over fine leg at the expense of the same bowler. The second wicket stand was already worth 222 and Bohannon was closing in on a second hundred in three matches when he nibbled at a ball outside off stump from Siddle and was caught at the wicket for 85.

Unperturbed by the demise of his long-time partner, Jennings carried on regardless in company with Dane Villas to advance his score to 189, at which point he succumbed to the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. Completing a routine single, Lancashire’s captain suddenly pulled up clutching his hamstring. Having received treatment and called upon the services of Luke Wells as a runner. Jennings faced a further two balls before admitting defeat and limping off. His innings spanned 247 balls and included 27 fours and a brace of sixes.

Jennings, who amassed a career-best 318 against Somerset at Southport in July last year, was left tantalisingly short of a place in history. A mere six players have scored a triple century followed by a double in successive innings against the same opponents, and the feat has been achieved only once previously in county cricket by Michael Hussey for Northants at the expense of Gloucestershire.

Somerset certainly made the most of their luck, Gregory striking twice in the space of three deliveries with the new ball to take the wind out of Lancashire sails. Villas and Colin de Grandhomme both edged behind to Rew and the visitors, having been cruising at 413 for two, had lost three batsmen in the space of nine balls, a flurry that inextricably altered the complexion of the game.

Lancashire still trailed at lunch, a situation that had been unthinkable while Jennings and Bohansson were in their pomp. Attempting to re-establish northern hegemony, George Bell and George Balderson staged a progressive stand of 56 in 14.4 overs either side of the interval to secure a fifth batting bonus point and put their side firmly in credit.

Yet Siddle and Gregory stood firm under pressure, adopting admirable line and length. These two continued to plug away and were rewarded for their perseverance and consistency with the wickets that served to draw Lancashire’s sting during an entertaining afternoon session. Balderson swung at a Gregory delivery that left him and departed for 26, while Siddle accounted for Bell and Tom Hartley, who contributed 36 and 34 respectively. All three were caught by Rew, who was then one dismissal short of equaling the Somerset Championship record of seven in an innings, held jointly by Rob Turner (against Northants in 2001) and Luke Ronchi (against Hampshire in 2015).

Rew was denied as England spinner Jack Leach mopped up the tail, inducing Saqib Mahmood to hole out to mid-off and then bowling Anderson in the act of reverse sweeping immediately after the tea interval. But that should in no way detract from an outstanding performance by Somerset’s young wicketkeeper, who contributed a wonderful hundred on the opening day.