Middlesex 283 from 93.1 overs (Malan 69, Robson 67, Compton 32, Rayner 31; Gregory 5-58, Groenewald 4-55). Somerset 185-8 (Trescothick 52, Allenby 43; Finn 4-41). Somerset 3 points, Middlesex 2 points.
Somerset lost wickets in all too familiar clusters after making a promising start to their first innings in tough batting conditions on day two at Merchant Taylors’ School.
Despite a half-century from captain Marcus Trescothick and 43 from under pressure Jim Allenby, Somerset struggled to 185-8 at the close of a day cut short by the rain, still 98 behind.
The morning session belonged to Somerset with Trescothick and opening partner Tom Abell surviving some testing bowling from the home side. Finn in particular beat the bat regularly and both Abell and Trescothick received blows on the hand and arm respectively. By lunch they had taken the score to 69-0 from 29 overs, with the skipper unbeaten on 35 and Abell not out 21.
Immediately after the break though, Somerset quickly lost three wickets in five overs for 10 runs.
In the second over after the interval, Abell was caught by wicket-keeper John Simpson off Steve Finn for 26 after more than two hours at the crease. Next over, Johann Myburgh was also caught behind by Simpson looking to drive Tim Murtagh for 1, having faced just five balls. Finally, three overs later, Finn struck again when he bowled James Hildreth for 4 which made Somerset 86-3.
Allenby joined Trescothick who brought up the 100 in the 40th over when he took two off Finn. In the next over the captain went to his half century with a boundary off Murtagh, his runs coming off 112 balls with 6 fours. However without addition to his score Trescothick was then lbw to Toby Roland-Jones with the total on 117.
Pete Trego joined Allenby and it was the new batsman who saw up the 150 with a boundary off Rayner from the first ball of the 57th over. Two balls later however, the Somerset all-rounder was out lbw to the spinner for 15.
Midway through the 58th over the rain started to fall and the players left the field for an early tea with Somerset 152-5, by which time Allenby had moved onto 34 with Lewis Gregory yet to score.
Play re-started at 5.05pm and after helping Allenby see the score onto 167, Gregory was out for 11, caught by Simpson off Finn.
Allenby, who had batted patiently, was joined by Michael Bates, but with the score on 178, the all-rounder was caught by Ollie Rayner off Finn for 43, his runs coming from 115 balls and including 3 fours 4s in a stay of almost two hours 20 minutes at the crease. It was Finn’s fourth wicket of the day and a perfect reminder for the England selectors with the Second Test due to start on Thursday.
Three runs and five balls later Abdur Rehman was caught by Rayner off Murtagh for 2.
Soon after which the rain started to fall and the umpires abandoned play for the day with Somerset on 185-8, Tim Groenewald unbeaten on four and Bates, who had received a blow on the helmet from Finn, 2*.
Afterwards Allenby said: “It has been a tough day and Middlesex bowled well throughout. The length they hit made it extremely hard for us and coming on and off for the weather kept their seamers fresh all day and they have made the most of the conditions.
“Having said that we had a great start in the first session and showed a lot of class from Tres and the skill that Tom Abell has as well.
“It has been a tough day but certainly all is not lost by any means. There is obviously going to be a result on this wicket so all is very much in our court tomorrow.”
Talking about his own innings Allenby said: “It was nice to be able to contribute after a quiet couple of weeks. It was tough and I needed to choose a method of playing that worked for me for a couple of hours but then I nicked one. However it was nice to contribute and keep them out there most of the day and get overs in the legs.”
Looking ahead Jim said: “The 10 overs before the second new ball are going to be pretty crucial in the morning and if we can get some runs and go into our bowling innings on a bit of a high then I really do think that if we are the team that gets the nicks rather than the misses for an hour or two it’s definitely game on.”