Somerset spinner Jack Leach announced his return to fitness in emphatic style this week, hitting a century and taking a 5-fer to set up an innings victory for Somerset Seconds over their Nottinghamshire counterparts.
Leach suffered concussion after a fall earlier this summer and has been making a gradual return to competitive cricket with the Seconds and his club side Taunton Deane.
On Tuesday he shared an excellent unbroken eighth-wicket partnership worth 225 with Ben Green at the County Ground, after Somerset had slumped to 225-7, only 21 ahead of Nottinghamshire.
Coming to the crease at number nine, Leach hit 123 from 178 balls with 21 boundaries in almost three and a half hours before Somerset declared on 450, giving them a commanding first-innings lead.
Leach then ran through the Nottinghamshire batting to finish with figures of 5-59 as the visitors were dismissed for just 164, losing by an innings and 82 runs.
His performance has been rewarded with a call-up to the First XI squad for tomorrow night’s must-win NatWest T20 game against Surrey at the Oval, where he may make his T20 debut in place of Abdur Rehman, who has been omitted.
Somerset Second XI Coach Steve Snell said: “It’s always good to win a game like this and I think that the players will have taken a lot from playing here at the County Ground. It’s been a very enjoyable three days and there have been some stand out performances, particularly from Jack Leach.
“This performance will give him huge confidence and rightly so. It’s a testament to both his ability and his character.
“It was a really good team performance all round. The lads bowled really well in the first innings, especially Bobby Gamble and Ollie Sale. A lot of the players have made contributions over the last three days and Ben Green also deserves a mention for his role in the 200 run partnership with Jack.”
Nottinghamshire Seconds batted first after winning the toss but had stumbled to 76-7 by lunch on day one with three wickets for Gamble and Sale to put Somerset very much on top while Green claimed the other wicket to fall in the opening session. Wicket-keeper Alex Barrow was the hero of the morning as he claimed a remarkable six catches.
Nottinghamshire recovered after lunch thanks to their own number nine, Paul Franks, who hit 93 at better than a run-a-ball, sharing a stand worth almost 70 for the eighth wicket with Simon Webster, who became Sale’s fourth victim of the innings. Franks was eventually dismissed for 93 by another Taunton Deane player Liam Redrup as Nottinghamshire were all out for 204.
Sale was the pick of the home bowlers as he claimed 4-29 from 10 overs while Gamble (from Loughborough University) ended with figures of 3-43 from 14 overs.
When the hosts replied, Adam Hose with 41 and Eddie Byrom added 61 for the opening partnership before Byrom was out for 21.
Alex Barrow and Tom Cooper put on 73 for the third wicket before Barrow was dismissed for 20. By the close of play Somerset had moved onto 193 without further loss from 44 overs with Tom Cooper, continuing his good run of form with the Seconds, unbeaten on 67 and James Regan not out 22.
Cooper fell early on the second morning for 71. His innings comes on the back of a century against MCC Young Cricketers, scored immediately after losing his place in the first XI. Last week Director of Cricket Matt Maynard spoke of how impressed he had been by Cooper’s response to being dropped and indicated that if he scored runs again this week, then he would put pressure on the first XI and potentially force himself back into contention.
Regan went for 39 before Green (44*) and Leach (31*) ensured that Somerset reached 307-7 at lunch, a lead of 103 runs.
After the interval both men passed the 50 mark as the home side moved on to 364-7 before rain brought a halt to proceedings.
The players returned after tea and Somerset reached 450-7 at the close, a lead of 246 runs with Leach moving on to 123* and Green 89*
With rain delaying the start of play on day three, Somerset declared on their overnight total. Sale and Gamble both struck early to remove the Nottinghamshire openers with just 29 runs on the board in the visitors’ second innings. By the time lunch was taken Nottinghamshire had moved on to 46-2.
Wickets continued to fall after the break as Leach followed up his century with five wickets from 22.1 overs while Academy player Tim Rouse from Bath CC, med 3-30 from 14 overs.