Lewis Gregory and Josh Davey set a record 8th wicket partnership for Somerset against Warwickshire as the pair got their side back into the game on the second day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
The visitors’ new-look seam attack looked to have taken control when reducing their hosts to 136 for seven shortly after tea, with Ed Barnard (three for 54), Hasan Ali (two for 62) and Chris Rushworth (one for 51) all taking wickets on debut.
However, Gregory and Davey had other ideas. Somerset’s eighth-wicket pair added 105 in 25.1 overs with some attractive counter-attacking cricket to help their side to 269 for eight at the close. It eclipsed Somerset’s previous best 8th wicket stand against Warwickshire, which was 96 and set in 1906 by Fred Lee and Talbot Lewis.
Gregory contributed an unbeaten 65, off 105 balls, with nine fours, while Davey also impressed, hitting seven boundaries in his 42 before falling lbw to Oliver Hannon-Dalby (two for 65) with the second new ball.
After no play on the first day due to a saturated outfield, umpires Alex Wharf and Rob Bailey made a 10.30am inspection and ruled that the game could start at noon, with lunch at 1.30pm and 88 overs to be bowled in the three sessions.
Gregory, acting Somerset captain while Tom Abell completes recovery from a side injury, won the toss and backed his side’s new top order, including debutants Sean Dickson, Cameron Bancroft and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, by electing to bat first under clear blue skies.
Rushworth impressed during an initial five-over spell from the River End and was unlucky not to claim a wicket when former Durham team-mate Dickson, on five, was dropped by wicketkeeper Michael Burgess, diving in front of first slip.
The error did not prove expensive as, without addition to his score, Dickson connected sweetly with a drive off Hannon-Dalby, but directed the ball straight to Barnard, who pouched a sharp chance at point.
Bancroft walked out at 13 for one in the fifth over. The Australian was soon making good use of the quick single, but both he and Tom Lammonby survived several close shaves as Warwickshire’s seamers went past the bat and had some confident lbw shouts rejected.
The pair took the score past 50 before Lammonby, who had shown commendable patience, was caught behind for 22 from a well-pitched delivery from Barnard that moved away off the seam.
The umpires immediately signalled lunch with Somerset 52 for two in the 23rd over, Bancroft unbeaten on 24.
Kohler-Cadmore was beaten by Barnard in the first over after the interval, but quickly responded with three boundaries through the off-side off the same bowler.
Bancroft looked to have plenty of time to play his shots and appeared well set on 44 when chasing a short, wide ball from Rushworth and edging to Rob Yates at first slip. He had faced 104 deliveries and hit five fours.
From 98 for three, George Bartlett helped add 22 for the fourth wicket before departing on 13 to a similar shot, edging Barnard to Yates, who took another routine catch.
Three balls later Kohler-Cadmore, who had just struck his seventh boundary to move to 34, became the third Somerset player to be pouched at first slip, Yates this time taking an excellent low catch to give Hasan Ali his first Warwickshire wicket.
By tea, the hosts were reeling at 128 for five and would have been in worse trouble had Burgess not spilled a regulation catch behind offered by James Rew on two.
Again the wicketkeeper’s mistake was not costly. Rew had moved onto six when bowled by Hasan Ali between bat and pad in the fourth over of the final session to make the score 135 for six.
With only a single added, Barnard bowled Craig Overton with an in-ducker. However, Somerset Members and supporters were lifted by Gregory and Davey whose flurry of positive shots all around the wicket gave Somerset serious momentum going into day three.
Gregory moved to an entertaining half-century off 85 balls before Davey departed and Jack Leach came in to help Somerset to a first batting point with successive fours off Hassan Ali.
At the close of play, Tom Kohler-Cadmore said: “I’ve loved my first day here and it’s nice to finally play some cricket. At the end of the day we are quite happy with where we are.
“There is not much pace in the pitch and not much pace in the outfield, so you feel like it’s a dot ball or a four. If the outfield was a bit quicker, we might have had 30 or 40 more runs on the board. I’m happy with the score and hopefully tomorrow we can add to it and take it to 300 or 320.
“The partnership between Lewis Gregory and Josh Davey has turned our day from an average one into a really good one.
“When I batted, I just tried to put them under pressure. If I get a good ball I will respect it, but if I get bad one then I’m going to try to hit it for four.
“I think the game is quite even and they will be slightly disappointed because of that last partnership. If you had offered us this at the start of the day then we would have taken it.”