Durham fan Mark Butler casts his eye over the Somerset side on display at Chester-le-Street and…….
In the first innings Somerset initially bowled poorly, yet the Durham batsmen failed to take full advantage by playing some loose strokes. After lunch though the bowling improved considerably and Somerset took control until a great partnership between Breese & Harrison took us to an above par score on a day 1 Riverside wicket. I was impressed with the way the Somerset bowlers recovered after a nervy start, especially as it was a fairly inexperienced attack.
I’m sure Peter Trego isn’t underrated by Somerset supporters but his name never seems to come up in the media as a potential England player. Not sure why that is. Young Overton was not at his best but clearly has great potential, very quick & hostile. Lewis Gregory was very impressive.
In the second innings Onions & Rushworth were at their best and ran through the Somerset top order. I think it was down to good bowling rather than bad batting, because those two bowlers give so little respite when bowling well, so the batsmen are under constant pressure.
Somerset were very unlucky to have Compton forced to bat down the order though.
Trego & Kieswetter played really well when it looked as though a total collapse was on the cards, Craig showing there’s much more to his batting than all-out attack.
The third innings saw a fine partnership between Jennings & Richardson and also some good bowling from Somerset. Durham once again though gave some wickets away at a time when they could have taken complete control and it required a captain’s innings from Colly in partnership with the increasingly impressive batting of Harrison to regain some control.
After no play on the third day, it was always likely to be a tricky decision for Colly. Recent history suggests the Riverside pitch flattens out towards the end of the game and with Somerset so strong in batting, an early declaration, with a required run rate of under three an over, would have been too risky. I thought he timed the declaration well – around four runs required an over in two and a bit sessions.
Two wickets before lunch set Somerset back, and then two more after a promising partnership between Petersen & Compo, gave Durham hope but after Kieswetter was dropped early on the game seemed to drift. I was surprised Somerset didn’t have a real go at getting the runs once CK & Compo were set, because the pitch really was doing nothing – although I’m probably biased because if they had played more shots we’d have had more chance of wickets! But Compton looked in no danger of getting out & Kieswetter played another fine innings.
Somerset’s strength I think is the formidable batting line-up. The captain, Alviro & Hildreth all went cheaply but we still didn’t come close to breaking through and even though it was a flat pitch it’s most unusual for Durham’s bowlers to create so few chances, so credit must go to the batsmen.
Another strength is the youngsters – Gregory, Overton (not a great match for him but there’s obviously something there) and Meschede (got injured but he looks good). Jones at the top of the order as well. Plus the stalwart Trego will always be a thorn in the side of any opposition.
Weaknesses in the short term might be a lack of experience in the bowling if Thomas and/or Kirby are sidelined through injury. England calls could harm you – Compton should never have been dropped in my opinion, and Kieswetter might well be in line for a recall.
The captain had (by his high standards) a disappointing season last year and has not started well this year. However I would not be at all surprised if he regains his form soon. Whenever we play Somerset he’s the one I worry the most about and I hope to be worrying about him for a few more years! I think he is the ideal man to help the younger players develop and also the best man to open the innings. The cliché about class being permanent applies to him.
Many thanks to Mark for offering his thoughts on the Somerset team and for his insights into the Riverside wicket during the match. You can follow Mark on Twitter at @mbutler1974