Somerset dominate on day one


Strong performances with both bat and ball put Somerset in a strong position on the opening day of this Vitality County Championship Division One match against Nottinghamshire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, the visitors were dismissed for 193 and then Somerset’s batters picked up where the attack left off to put the home side into the ascendancy by the time play came to a conclusion on a sunny but blustery day in Taunton.

After skittling Notts for less than 200, Sean Dickson and Matt Renshaw then shared a century opening stand as Somerset asserted their dominance in front of a good crowd, the majority of whom will have been delighted to see Craig Overton in fine form.

The England all-rounder claimed three for 57 from 18 impressive overs to help the hosts to maximum bowling points as only Matt Montgomery (48) and Joe Clarke (39) offered any kind of resistance.

There were two wickets each for Lewis Gregory and Migael Pretorius and by the close, Somerset had replied with 116 for one. Dickson will resume tomorrow on 70.

The match got off to the best possible start for the hosts when Haseeb Hameed, who aimed an extravagant cover drive that the first ball of the day from Overton without making contact, then left the second and then dragged the third delivery onto his stumps with a repeat of his first shot.

Ben Slater and Will Young were more circumspect in taking the total 49, although Overton went past the outside edge on numerous occasions and deserved better than one for 13 from his opening spell.

Gregory has enjoyed an excellent start to the season after being appointed Somerset Captain and the all-rounder struck twice in the morning session just when the two Notts players were starting to look set.

Slater, on 25, nibbled at a seaming delivery on off stump to edge through to wicketkeeper James Rew, while Young was pinned lbw on the back foot for 27 with the total on 52.

Clarke and Montgomery saw Notts through to lunch, taking the score to 72 for three on a pitch offering true bounce and some seam movement, which looked as if it would aid good batting and bowling.

It was the latter, backed up by excellent fielding, which held sway in the afternoon session. However, Clarke and Montgomery batted confidently, taking their fourth-wicket stand to 66 in 21 overs before Clarke got a leading edge to a delivery from England spinner Shoaib Bashir and was caught at mid-wicket.

It proved a turning point as wickets fell steadily from then on.

With the total on 139, Jack Haynes was caught behind pushing forward to Josh Davey and departed for five. Fourteen runs were added before Montgomery, who had faced 84 balls and hit six fours, fell to a catch at second slip off Overton, who was again bowling well having switched to the Marcus Trescothick Pavilion End.

Two balls later the tall seamer, who missed Somerset’s opening Championship game to complete rehab after surgery, struck again as Calvin Harrison edged to Gregory at first slip.

Suddenly Notts were 153 for seven and in a deep hole. Although Lyndon James and Brett Hutton added 30, there was to be no major recovery.

James fell for 18, lbw to a full-length delivery from South African seamer Pretorius, for whom it was a first wicket at Taunton since signing for Somerset. Hutton had moved to 20 when sent back seeking to push a single into the off-side and being run out by a brilliant direct hit by Lewis Goldsworthy running round from point.

Pretorius picked up a second wicket when Luke Fletcher nicked a catch to Rew and Notts had been bowled out inside 63 overs. Tea was taken before Somerset’s reply began in bright sunshine.

Soon Renshaw and Dickson were putting the pitch in perspective, compiling a century opening stand in 28.2 overs with barely a false shot, despite some probing bowling from Fletcher, who conceded only 11 runs from his first nine overs, bowled in two spells, one from either end.

Dickson led the way with some sweetly-timed shots, including two swashbuckling strokes through point off Lyndon James to bring up the fifty partnership. A single off leg-spinner Harrison took him to his first Championship half-century at the Cooper Associates County Ground, off 68 balls, with nine fours.

Left-hander Renshaw was content to play a supporting role, but also looked in fine touch until edging a Harrison delivery that held its line to slip the ball after lofting him for a straight six.

Renshaw eventually fell for 34 with the score on 111 when he edged Harrison to Montgomery at first slip, but by that point Somerset had established a firm grip on the game.

Josh Davey was sent out to bat out the remaining two and a half overs, which he did successfully to ensure that Somerset will begin the second day of the game trailing by just 77 runs with nine wickets in hand.