Somerset 299 (Myburgh 118, Hildreth 53, Cooper 47; Coughlin 5-57, Onions 4-59) & 230 (Trego 79, Rehman 55*; Rushworth 6-92) lost to Durham 380 (Collingwood 109*, Borthwick 94; Gregory 5-99) and 150-3 (Borthwick 51*) by seven wickets. Somerset 5pts, Durham 23pts
Despite a superb batting fightback from Peter Trego and Abdur Rehman, Durham were untroubled in completing an outstanding seven-wicket win over Somerset with a day to spare. One game into the Maynard era, Somerset already have much to ponder after two batting collapses made it easy for a good, but by no means amazing, Durham side to claim victory.
Somerset began the morning of day three on 54 for 4, and were looking to Jim Allenby and Alex Barrow to lift them to a respectable position. But the latter was bowled by Chris Rushworth without addition to the overnight score, bringing Peter Trego to the crease. He signalled his intent by striking Rushworth twice for four through the covers in the same over, and Allenby added another in a similar area in his the bowler’s next over.
But the bowler soon had his revenge – Allenby was struck in front and the umpire was raising his finger almost before the Durham fielders appealed. Then, very next ball, Lewis Gregory fell too, attempting a drive which found his edge and subsequently Scott Borthwick’s safe hands at second slip. New batsman Tim Groenewald (9) didn’t last long either – he was caught by Calum MacLeod at gully playing a similar shot to John Hastings’ bowling.
By this point Somerset had ensured that Durham would bat again, but Trego and Abdur Rehman allayed fears that the target would be small. The former promptly hit Rushworth for 20 off an over, and the pair counter-attacked brilliantly in a stand of 99.
Trego played as Trego does, hitting the bowling all around the park, particularly strong on the pull and the drive. Rehman, meanwhile, endeavoured to match him, playing some agricultural, but effective, shots.
With the stand worth 99, Trego miscued a pull which looped up and was caught by Graham Onions off his own bowling. Briefly, perhaps, Somerset had visions of setting a competitive target, and Trego was forlorn in making his way slowly back to the pavilion. He hit 8 fours and a six in his innings of 79 from 83 balls.
The fun wasn’t quite over, though. Jamie Overton joined Rehman and they proceeded to extend the lead to 149 with more attacking shots. Rehman brought up his fifty with a pulled six off Onions, and Overton hit two fours before he was bowled by Paul Collingwood for 14, leaving Durham a target of 150. Rehman finished on 55 not out from 82 balls, including 8 fours and a six. The ever-reliable Rushworth was the pick of the bowlers with 6 for 92, passing 200 first-class wickets in the process.
Durham openers Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings didn’t hang around, and the latter hit fours off each of Overton’s first three balls. But both fell with score on 53; Jennings to an Allenby slip catch off Rehman and Stoneman to a miscued cut off Overton that was pouched by James Hildreth running in from the boundary.
Michael Richardson fell too for 28, but Somerset never really gave Durham any major scares. Scott Borthwick, who reached his second half-century of the match, hit 4 fours from one Groenewald over to bring them near the target, before MacLeod completed a seven-wicket victory with a single off Rehman.
Matt Maynard told the official Somerset website afterwards, “We didn’t execute our skills for long enough. We had a great partnership going in the middle session on the first day to put us in a good position, but then we lost five wickets for 25 runs, so rather than getting to our target of 450 we had to settle for 300”.
He added that, bowling-wise, “we did some very good things as a unit but didn’t sustain it for long enough. The Durham spell last night from Onions and Rushworth showed what you had to do on that wicket – get at the batsman all the time and be really disciplined”.
It’s a worrying start to the season for Somerset, but it’s worth remembering just that – it’s only the start. There is plenty of time to turn things around, and the team is good enough on paper; it’s about waiting for them to maximise their potential. There were positives to take, particularly Gregory and Overton’s bowling (the latter brought Scott Borthwick to his knees in a hostile spell during the run-chase) and the fight shown by Trego and Rehman.
But the batting collapses in both innings are a concern; on paper the batting line-up is solid but it simply didn’t play to its potential in this match. There is time to turn this around, but the team will need to get going soon to alleviate fans’ fears that the squad is weaker after the losses of Nick Compton, Alviro Petersen and Craig Kieswetter.
Somerset now have a twelve-day break before their next game, against Middlesex on 26 April at the County Ground.