|Ground:||County Ground, Taunton|
|Scorecard:||Somerset v Lancashire|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2014|
DateLine: 1st July 2014
Match Report: SOMERSET v LANCASHIRE
Day 3, from John Ward at Taunton
Close of play: Lancashire (266 and 59/0) v Somerset (484)
Some superb batting from the Somerset lower order, in particular the blossoming all-rounder Craig Overton, gave the home team a powerful advantage over Lancashire on the third day of their match at Taunton. Overton, aided by Alfonso Thomas, made his highest career score of 99 as he made a powerful assault on the bowlers, and Somerset were able to take a lead of 218 runs on the first innings.
This was Schools Day at Taunton, and about a thousand schoolchildren were at the ground in response to the invitation of the County Club. They saw Somerset resume at 193 for two wickets, with Marcus Trescothick on 107 and Alviro Petersen on 57. After two overs the second new ball became available – not a common occurrence in these days before a team has reached 200 runs – but the batsmen continued to apply themselves doggedly to the task of building a big total for their team on a pitch that, according to Somerset’s batting coach Dave Houghton, was “like played in Sri Lanka.”
Peterson did most of the scoring early on, but when he reached 73 he was startled by a ball from Glen Chapple that uncharacteristically took off from a length, stood up and took the edge of the bat through to the wicket-keeper. He had played a fine innings for his team, adding 168 for the third wicket with Trescothick. The total was 217 for three.
James Hildreth clipped his first ball neatly through midwicket for four, but as so often he flattered only to deceive. He was almost bowled by a ball that shot through almost at ground level, and was then trapped lbw to Tom Smith for 10.
The long-standing Trescothick did not survive him long. After showing such restraint for almost six hours he was out to a strangely soft dismissal, driving loosely at a ball from Smith and slicing it to backward point. He made 128, with 17 fours and a six, off 317 deliveries, and at his dismissal Somerset were still 15 runs run out Lancashire.
The way things were going, it looked as if Somerset would be reduced to a small lead, but in fact the best was still to come. Craig Kieswetter and Peter Trego decided on bold tactics, and added 37 together in seven overs before Kieswetter was lbw to Wayne White, the ball coming back in to him and keeping low. Then Trego, despite being fully forward, was given out lbw to Simon Kerrigan to make the score 290 for seven.
Luke Gregory, the darling of the Somerset team this season, hit a six to get off the mark just before lunch, taking Somerset past 300 to another batting bonus point. At the break the score was 301 for seven, with Gregory on 7 and Craig Overton 6, having survived a chance to slip on 5.
For Somerset it was to get better and better. They did lose Gregory, caught in the deep for 26, but then came the main course of the day. Alfonso Thomas, curbing his natural aggressive instincts, played a quiet game while the in-form Craig Overton attacked the bowling. Hitting freely, he ran to his fifty off 53 balls, and included two successive sixes off Kerrigan. Having scored 86 in his previous match on this ground, against Sussex, he now went better still. He made 88 during the afternoon session and went into tea on 94, with the team total 437 for eight (Thomas 23).
He showed due care on approaching his century after the break, and successfully reached 99. At this point, however, he had a rush of blood to the head off Kerrigan, tried a big drive and was superbly caught by Paul Horton at slip off a low catch. He walked off bitterly disappointed, but he had done a magnificent job for this team. He scored his runs off 135 balls, with nine fours and two sixes.
George Dockrell showed a typical spinner’s delight in hitting his opposite number for six second ball. The self-effacing Thomas went to his fifty off 114 balls before holing out at midwicket for 54. The final total was 484, a lead of 218. Kerrigan took the most wickets, four, but he paid an awful price of 168 runs for them, off 51.1 overs. Smith, with two for 33 off 20 overs, can be well pleased with his analysis.
For some reason there was a nasty atmosphere on the field between the fielding team and the batsmen when Lancashire went in to bat with their large deficit, and a lot of unpleasant words were exchanged. It came to an end when Thomas unleashed a vicious bouncer at Horton, who ducked into it and received such a nasty blow on the helmet that he was forced to retire hurt. He had a single to his credit and the score was 6. This at least did have the effect of sobering up the antagonists.
Horton’s partner Alex Davies, perhaps inspired by anger, took the bowling on and played some powerful attacking strokes, getting the score moving quickly. The new batsman Usman Khawaja in contrast did not look comfortable for a long time, but he did see out the day successfully, finishing on 14. The more belligerent Davies had 38 off 43 balls, and the total was 59 without loss. However, Lancashire will go into the fourth day with only a draw to hope and fight for.
(Article: Copyright © 2014 John Ward)