The honours finished even after an incredible day 2 at Chester-le-Street where Somerset initially batted themselves into a poor position before bowling themselves into a much stronger one thanks to two significant spells after tea. PeterTrego was the cider men’s star of the day with bat and ball but the game remains evenly balanced going into day 3.
Somerset started the day on 7 for 0 in pleasant conditions on a good looking batting track and, after hitting 553 against Yorkshire in their first game, were hopeful of enjoying a good day in the middle chasing Durham’s 1st innings total of 308. But the morning session conjured up bad memories from last season as the cider county lost 4 wickets for just 19 runs to languish at 43 for 4 after openers Tres and Jones had taken the score to 24 for 0 without too much emotion.
Durham’s opening attack bowled accurately and aggressively with Graeme Onions managing to snare both Tres, who was first man out for 17, and Hildy, who was fourth man out without scoring, for the seventh time each in Championship Cricket. In between those dismissals Jones (7) also fell to Onions and Alviro (11) was adjudged LBW to Rushworth.
To further the misery of Somerset supporters the surprise absence of Compo and lack of any information was now becoming a major worry with rumours of him being injured. With Mesch limping off the field the previous evening there were fears that Somerset would have eleven players fit to bat.
Myburgh joined Kieswetter at the crease and there followed some respite for Somerset in the shape of a stand of 41 with Mybs looking to attack the Durham bowlers. He was looking set for a big score to follow his debut 91 against the Tykes in game one but he was the 5th man out LBW to Harrison with the total on 84 and Somerset would have been setting their stall out at this stage just to pass the required 159 to avoid the follow on.
In came Tregs – still no Compo – and he and Kiessy took the team to 119-5 at lunch scoring 39 between them. Things could have been much worse with Kiessy dropped by Borthwick in the slips on the very last ball of the session.
The second session would prove important to both teams and started well for the cider boys but another collapse saw Somerset avoid the follow on but fail to gain any batting points as 5 wickets fell for 22 runs. From 163 for 5 the cider county would have to settle for 185.
First Tregs fell 2 short of a deserved 50 having put on 79 with Kiessy which prompted the long awaited introduction of Compton. But the wicket-keeper soon followed and the score became 163 for 7. Gregory looked set but fell for 12 after a couple of lusty blows and there was little more Compton could do other than try to keep one end alive. Mesch fell cheaply on 185 and Compo himself was the last man out without further score.
Onions (4 for 65) and Rushworth (4 for 52) bowled well as a unit. There were six LBW decisions in the Somerset innings.
As Somerset entered the field for Durham’s 2nd innings there was no Meschede, with Dockers his fielding replacement, so Somerset would rely on Gregs, Tregs & Joverton for the pace with part-timers Mybs and Hildy as support.
Durham lead by 123 going into the innings and ambled to 16 when Gregory trapped Stoneman with the 12th LBW of the match, a decision that left the Durham man a tad miffed if his reaction is anything to go by. Somerset struck again soon after when a great catch by Jones off Trego’s bowling removed Borthwick with 31 on the board.
Durham eased to 88 for 2 after tea and it all looked very easy until an amazing spell saw Somerset take 5 wickets for only 36 runs and this turned the game. Richardson (32) and Jennings (41) were the first to go and the score became 109 for 4 then 123 for 4. Then a spell of 3 wickets for 1 run saw Mustard, Breese and Arshan come and go and the cider boys suddenly gained some control.
Collingwood (23*) and Harrison (16*) took the hosts to the close with little excitement and the day finished with Durham on 152 for 7, a lead of 275.
Batting coach Dave Houghton spoke to the club’s website after the day’s play saying: “It wasn’t a bad day for us in the end. Batting was really difficult especially against Onions and Rushworth, but we got a bit of a partnership going with Craig Kieswetter and Pete Trego who played very positively. However we were a little bit short of where we wanted to be because I thought that 230-240 would have been a good reply.
“However then we went out and we bowled magnificently, especially with us being a bowler light after Craig Meschede was injured in the first innings and we bowled ourselves into the game, which gives us a sniff of a chance. This is the sort of wicket where 300 is a tough challenge but with the strength in our side being our top six batters we will take that challenge from the position we have been in during this game.
He added: “We have got a wrap up job to get the last couple out and then face a batting challenge to win this game.”
Somerset will be happy with their day in the field if not with bat in hand and will feel if they can break the partnership early on day 3 then they will be in with a great chance to win this game on a ground where they haven’t won in the Championship for nearly 20 years.