Somerset head north to take on county champions
by Jeremy Blackmore
Somerset head north for a challenging test over the next four days against last year’s county champions Durham.
Returning to a ground where they were skittled out for just 132 in their first innings last year, the visitors will be hoping to carry on the more disciplined batting form they showed in this week’s match against Yorkshire.
Over the last few seasons, the Chester-le-Street wicket has become easier to bat on as games have gone on, so seeing off the early threat of danger man Graeme Onions and making inroads in Durham’s first innings will be important. Somerset will be glad to have Jamie Overton back fit and firing as part of a 14-man squad in the north-east.
Steve Cotton of the Evening Post reported on Twitter today that Craig Overton has been ruled out of the Durham game with a side strain (after leaving the field in some discomfort on Monday), so Jamie will presumably be a straight swap for his twin brother. Steve also reported that there will be a late fitness test for Alfonso Thomas, who didn’t bowl in Yorkshire’s second innings at Taunton on Wednesday after problems with his back.
Returning to a 14-man squad for the Durham game is Peter Trego, who missed the Yorkshire game with an arm injury, although he got some match practice with the seconds.
The other two additions to the squad from the team which played against Yorkshire, are spinner George Dockrell and new signing all-rounder Josh Davey.
Quite what our line-up will be is uncertain. There’s a difficult choice to make to accommodate an extra bowler after such a good all-round performance with the bat in the game against Yorkshire. Many observers though felt that, injuries aside, Somerset were a bowler short this week, despite Myburgh doing a useful job with his part-time spin.
Marcus missed out with the bat this week and will be hoping to get back in the runs after a disappointing 2013 and build on his good form in the pre-season friendlies.
Nick Compton meantime, who scored 166 on the last occasion these sides met at Taunton last June, will be looking to make a big score to press his case for an England recall with new Head Coach Peter Moores.
The home side meanwhile, will be looking to secure their first championship win of the season after coming agonisingly close to beating Northamptonshire at Northampton in the dying moments of Wednesday evening.
Durham Head Coach Jon Lewis spoke to the club website about the visit of Somerset this Easter weekend: “It’s always a big challenge, they’re a strong side – any side with people like Marcus Trescothick and Alfonso Thomas in it will always be a good side. Their batting does look pretty good at the moment so they’ll be strong and will come north hoping to get a win so we’ll have to be at our best”
Expect an unchanged side from Durham’s game against Northants, so Gareth Breese should play. Somerset fans of course will want to forget Breese’s incredible 165* against us at Taunton almost 10 years ago. That knock came after Durham had slipped to 95-5, chasing 451 to win and helped secure an astonishing one-wicket victory. Let’s hope Gareth, who is celebrating his benefit year, has a quieter game this time round!
Just one final point to illustrate the way this Chester-le-Street wicket can play, getting easier to bat on as the game goes on. Last April Joe Root scored 182 in Yorkshire’s second innings to secure victory. That was after Durham had declared their second innings and Yorkshire had been bowled out for 177 first time round.
Whatever happens on the field though, one thing’s for certain, Somerset’s players will want to wear an extra layer of clothing during this game, with temperatures expected to plummet after the sun-drenched skies of a few days ago.
Many thanks to Durham fan Mark Butler (@mbutler1974 on Twitter) for his insight into conditions and the wicket at Chester-le-Street.
Day 1: Light cloud, 11 degrees
Day 2: Thick cloud, 11 degrees
Day 3: Light rain showers, 10 degrees
Day 4: Light rain showers, occasional sunshine, 14 degrees
Somerset: Trescothick (capt), Jones, Compton, Peteresen, Hildreth, Kieswetter (wk), Myburgh, Gregory, Meschede, Thomas, J Overton, Trego, Davey, Dockerell.
Durham: Collingwood (capt), Mustard (wk), Stoneman, Jennings, Borthwick, Richardson, Breese, Muchall, Usman Arshad, Coughlin, Harrison, Rushworth, Onions.