Sunday 12th April to Wednesday 15th April at Taunton
Somerset: ME Trescothick*, JG Myburgh, JC Hildreth, J Allenby, AWR Barrow†, PD Trego, L Gregory, TD Groenewald, Abdur Rehman, J Overton
Durham: MD Stoneman, KK Jennings, SG Borthwick, MJ Richardson, CS MacLeod, PD Collingwood*, P Mustard†, P Coughlin, JW Hastings, C Rushworth, G Onions
It was a sunny but chilly and blustery County Ground that welcomed Durham and the new Championship season to Somerset. The home team included Jamie Overton in the starting XI to be part of a fast bowling unit that included Tim Groenewald and Lewis Gregory with beneficiary Peter Trego and debutant Jim Allenby the back-up seamers. The returning Abdur Rehman was named as the only specialist spin bowler although he could be supported by part-time spinner Johan Myburgh.
Australian born Holland international Tom Cooper was making his debut with James Hildreth and wicket keeper Alex Barrow making up the middle order.
Home captain Marcus Trescothick won the toss and opted to bat first and he opened with Myburgh and they made a steady start scoring 6-0 off the first 5 overs. Myburgh then struck the first boundary of the season off Chris Rushworth in the 6th over, and the second followed a few balls later.
It was all looking easy for Somerset even though Myburgh edged the last ball of the 9th over past the diving slip fielder but the ball hit the boundary rope as the batting team scored 24 in the next 5 overs to sit at 29 for 0 off 10.
Then Graeme Onions rather predictably snared Trescothick with a snick off a wild drive that landed comfortably in Durham skipper Paul Collingwood’s hands with the third ball of the 11th over. It was a rash shot from Trescothick and it took Somerset to 30 for 1.
Tom Cooper entered the fray and made a rather nervy start to his Somerset career but soon settled to play support to Myburgh, who looked comfortable throughout.
With few scares the two took Somerset to lunch on 89 for 1 with both batsmen hitting 5×4’s with Myburgh looking set on 42 and Cooper on 30 having put on an undefeated 59 in the morning session. It was a good morning for Somerset.
Returning after the break it was a much different outlook for the cider county. The sunshine had been replaced by a much cloudier County Ground and, if Somerset thought they had won round one of this contest, then it was Durham who would play themselves back into the game in the second session.
Initially Cooper and Myburgh continued to dominate for Somerset bringing up the 100 in the 34th over with a boundary from the Dutch international who then repeated the feat with the very next ball to pass 40 as Somerset advanced to 107 for 1.
Myburgh reached his 50 off 91 balls with a stunning cut off Onions but there was no such luck for Cooper who fell lbw Coughlin for 47 after 37.2 overs. It was a good, solid debut innings and he hit 9×4’s in a stand worth 93 with Myburgh.
James Hildreth entered the action and survived a big shout for LBW when on 11 when his team were 161 for 2 but umpire Cowley was, for once, unconvinced.
Myburgh was resolute and continued to impress even though he edged one that hit the fingers of a diving second slip while on 89 but it went comfortably to the rope. Eventually he reached three figures off 134 balls that included 15×4’s and this became his 15th first class ton, a second for Somerset following the 150* v Durham MCCU last week but a first in the Championship. It was also the first championship ton of the season as Myburgh beat Jacques Rudolph of Glamorgan by approximately 10 minutes.
Hildreth enjoyed further good fortune when he was dropped by Callum MacLeod on 22 at gully off Rushworth when Somerset were 186-2 but followed that soon after with the first six off the day struck off Scott Borthwick in the 52nd over moving him to 28 and Somerset to 195 for 2.
The home side passed 200 after 54.1 overs and these two reached their century partnership as they took the cider county to 224 for 2. But things started to turn Durham’s way when the centurion lobbed one to Richardson off Collingwood for 118. He hit 14×4’s & 1×6 in 164 deliveries in what was a very impressive innings.
This was very much a turning point.
Allenby became the second Somerset debutant of the day and promptly got off the mark with a four off the second ball he faced. He was at the non-striking end when Hildreth passed his 50 with a sweet cut but the Milton Keynes born player was was snared lbw Collingwood for 53 just three balls after – almost typical Hildreth to be making a good solid base only to get out – and something Somerset fans saw too much of in 2014. He hit 2×6’s & 8×4’s in 64 balls and Somerset were beginning to baulk at 245-4.
This is a big season for Alex Barrow with many wondering if he has the consistency to earn his place in the starting XI as a batsman. Unfortunately for him any doubters were proved right as he came and went without making a contribution bowled by Collingwood for 4 after missing what looked like a straight one. Somerset 249-5 having been 223-2. It was same old, same old.
Benefit boy Peter Trego didn’t last long either as he was judged lbw too as Collingwood picked up his 4th wicket and Somerset went into tea at 249 for 6 and staring into the headlights. Round 2 was very much Durham’s as they battled manfully to play themselves back into this game.
Collingwood completed his over immediately after tea bowling to Gregory, and the young all-rounder from Devon initially took the attack to Durham with some lusty blows.
But the Durham skipper Collingwood was beginning to get something out of the pitch and wobble the ball a bit and struck again as debutant Allenby lobbed one to Stoneman scoring just 8. Somerset were now 266 for 7. At this stage the former England man’s figures were 10-0-49-5 as he sought his best ever bowling return at the grand old age of 38.
And the drama wasn’t likely to end anytime soon as Gregory was out from an unorthodox shot off Onions and was caught by Mustard scoring 13. Somerset were now 270 for 8 and 300 and a second batting point looking unlikely.
Groenewald showed some promise but soon Somerset were nine wickets down when the South African born pace bowler was caught by Richardson off Onions at 3rd slip for 9. Somerset were now 280 for 9 and the County Ground awash with groans of disbelief.
A huge six from number 11 James Overton gave light relief to Somerset’s suffering fans as he and Rehman helped the score to 299-9 but there would be no extra batting point as the Pakistan Test spinner edged Onions to Collingwood for 13.
It was vintage stuff from skipper Collingwood who recorded figures of 12-0-57-5 but he will be thankful to some poor shot making from the Somerset players.
Somerset needed a reaction and this came in the second over when Lewis Gregory trapped Keaton Jennings caught behind by Barrow without scoring and the Durham score on 4.
The new batsman was Scott Borthwick and Gregory came close to removing the new man early, finding the edge of his bate but the ball evaded the Somerset fielders before sneaking to the boundary.
But it wouldn’t be long before young Lewis was celebrating a wicket again when he snared Stoneman caught Hildreth in the slips for just 4. Durham were 13 for 2 and it was game on now.
Richardson and Borthwick settled things for the north east side with some impressive shots after the initial shaky start. Borthwick, in particular, attacked the Somerset bowlers with much aplomb to end a lively first day contest on 52 including 12×4’s in 46 deliveries with his partner Richardson unbeaten on 35.
The early session on Monday will prove crucial with Matt Maynard’s men believing that early wickets can help them regain the driving seat in this game. To do that they will need to bowl a lot better than late on Sunday.
After the game Johan Myburgh spoke to the press and said: “Getting a hundred – and a maiden Championship hundred – is a nice feeling but I think the feeling in the dressing room is disappointment after a good start.”
He spoke glowingly of Collingwood saying: “He’s obviously a very smart cricketer – he’s been around for a long time and he’s willing to try things. Unfortunately for us it wasn’t great – we lost our way there, because we would have liked to have scored a very big total and put them under pressure.”
When asked if the Somerset bowlers had let Durham off the hook he added: “We tried to bowl hard and positive and possibly tried too much. You can’t really blame us for that.
“I think the game is in the balance and some quick wickets tomorrow can be the difference.”
Close of play: Somerset (299 all out) lead Durham (98 for 2 in 19 overs) by 201 runs who have 8 wickets remaining in the 1st innings