Somerset’s young, inexperienced bowling attack struggled to maintain control for key periods of the opening day of the division one clash against last year’s county champions at Chester-le-Street.
Thirty runs were given away in no-balls and the visitors failed to sustain pressure and allowed partnerships to build, despite wickets falling in clusters throughout the day.
But it is to the Somerset attack’s credit that on a pitch favouring batsmen and a strong wind, they stuck to their task and still managed to pick up maximum bowling points. They dismissed Durham for a par score of 308, when the home side were threatening at one stage to make 400 plus – particularly during a partnership of 62 between skipper Collingwood and Keaton Jennings, who top scored with 80.
With such a young, but extremely promising attack, such days are perhaps bound to happen and our lads will learn lessons from today. Indeed they responded to what was probably a stern talking-to at lunch from Nos or bowling coach Jason Kerr with a much tighter display in the first hour of the afternoon session, particularly when Meschede and Trego were bowling in tandem.
Jamie Overton, playing his first championship match of the summer after coming back from injury, struggled to get his radar right and was particularly wayward early on. His opening spell of three overs went for 24 runs, including five no balls. Lewis Gregory, meanwhile, was hit for a four and a huge six by Stoneman in his opening over – a blow which broke the ball.
In truth, Durham gifted their early wickets, with the first three batsmen dismissed all flashing at wide ones.
The seamers worked harder to earn their wickets later on though, getting the ball to move about a bit, with Overton generating some real pace, and seeing a bit of turn for part-time spinner Myburgh.
With Durham going into tea on 228-6, having dismissed both Jennings and Collingwood, Somerset will have been hoping to wrap the innings up quickly.
However, Gareth Breese and Jamie Harrison had other ideas, putting on a partnership of 65 in the evening session and taking Durham past 300 and regaining the initiative in the process.
Trescothick will have been glad to have been able to call on the experience of Pete Trego, who was also playing his first game of the summer after recovering from an arm injury. Pete bowled well today, striking with a double wicket maiden to break the Breese/Harrison partnership – getting one to nip back and have Breese adjudged lbw – and then getting Onions in the same fashion a few balls later.
Lewis Gregory was our most successful bowler. He had a mixed day, lacking control and penetration at times, yet also bowling seven maidens and taking four wickets including both Collingwood and Jenning when he got the ball to lift on the batsman to give Hildreth a catch at slip.
With a line-up that sees Myburgh, Gregory and Trego at 7, 8 and 9, Somerset have an embarrassment of batting riches. But on days like this one feels they could have done with an extra
bowler – particularly a specialist spinner like Dockerell – if they are to bowl sides out twice. We will want to bat long and score big over the next two days now to put Durham under pressure.
Trescothick and Jones negotiated a testing six-over period in fading light at close of play to finish 7-0, Marcus surviving a hard chance to slip off the penultimate ball. Conditions are forecast to be overcast tomorrow.
There was a concern late in the day with reports that Craig Meschede may have picked up a side strain while bowling, the same injury that ruled Craig Overton out of bowling in the second innings against Yorkshire last week. Alf Thomas was ruled out before the start of play due to a back injury.
After match quotes:
Assistant and bowling coach Jason Kerr told the Somerset website: “We managed to keep chipping away and getting wickets throughout the day but we weren’t at our best and at times fell below the high standards we set ourselves. They managed to establish partnerships and we let them get a few more runs than we would have liked.
“This hasn’t been our best day but we have managed to take 10 wickets. We now need to get through that first hour or so in the morning, establish some partnerships through the day and hopefully go beyond them.
Jason added: “It is very cold up here with a very strong breeze so the conditions are very trying and the boys tried hard. However now it is our chance to bat and we have got the opportunity to go out and carry on from where we ended last week.”