Tom and James put Somerset on top on day one


A 205-run stand between Tom Banton and James Rew gave Somerset the upper hand on the opening day of this Vitality County Championship Division One match against Kent at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The pair put Somerset in the ascendancy after coming together at 172 for four in an afternoon session that saw the day turn in the host’s favour after a fairly even morning session.

Both players were in imperious form, with Banton claiming his second First Class hundred and surpassing his previous career-best score in red ball cricket whilst Rew rekindled the sparkle that made him headline news last summer.

There were also important contributions from Tom Lammonby (69) and Matt Renshaw (40) as Somerset recovered from losing the wicket of Sean Dickson in the second over of the day.

Somerset closed on 440 for seven to send the Members and supporters, who had already been buoyed by the return of England spinner Jack Leach to the starting XI, home feeling extremely satisfied by what they had witnessed at a sunny Taunton.

After winning the toss, Kent invited Somerset to bat first and made the early breakthrough when Dickson attempted to cut Beyers Swanepoel but edged behind where Harry Finch took a regulation catch. It was the 10th delivery of the match and Somerset had yet to register a run on the scoreboard.

However, Renshaw and Lammonby were soon making batting look comfortable in warm sunshine and brought up the Somerset 50 in the 12th over.

Unfortunately, Renshaw then mistimed a drive off George Garrett and was caught at mid-on at 75 for two. Andy Umeed made his way to the middle and looked like continuing his recent good form as he took Somerset to three-figures with a sumptuous drive. Lammonby then secured his fifth Championship half-century of the season as the batting side looked to turn the screw.

With the total on 116, Umeed edged Swanepoel to Marcus O’Riordan at first slip and departed for 25 as Somerset reached the lunch interval on 133 for three.

The Tom’s, Lammonby and Banton played positively at the start of the afternoon session, taking the score to 172 before Lammonby got a bottom edge onto his stumps, attempting to pull a boundary off Grant Stewart.

It proved the only success for the visitors before tea as Rew launched his innings with three fours in quick succession off Garrett, who had to leave the field after two balls of his 11th over, which was completed by Joey Evison.

By then Somerset were 209 for four and Kent, without Jack Leaning because of a hand injury, were about to turn to the off-spin of O’Riordan. Rew greeted him with a six over mid-wicket before Banton moved to his third half-century of the summer with his tenth four, off Evison, having faced 79 balls.

Rew claimed his second fifty of the season, a fluent effort off 61 balls, and celebrated with a six over long-on off O’Riordan as he overtook his batting partner. Banton responded by clearing the ropes off the same bowler and at tea he was unbeaten on 66, while Rew had contributed 63 to Somerset’s 265 for four.

The final session saw Banton survive a sharp chance to backward point off Stewart just after his stand with Rew went to three figures. It was all the good fortune he required to reach a 150-ball ton that meant a huge amount, having worked hard to try and match his early success as a one-day player in red ball cricket.

After celebrating with arms outstretched, he raced past his previous top score of 126.

Rew followed him to a hundred with his 12th four, clipped over mid-wicket off Stewart after Kent had taken the second new ball at 349 for four. The left-hander had faced 128 balls, timing the ball sweetly.

Banton departed shortly afterwards, caught behind attempting to uppercut a short ball from Stewart.

Rew also fell to the new ball, lbw to Evison, falling across his stumps to give Kent a second bowling point. Craig Overton was dismissed for a rapid 23, but Somerset skipper Lewis Gregory was unbeaten on 26 at stumps, having passed 4,000 First Class runs.