Four of Somerset’s top five batsmen hit half centuries to help their team back into the game against Yorkshire and entertain a bank holiday crowd on a day when 402 runs were scored and six wickets taken.
Somerset finished the day on 309 for 4 so trail the reigning champions by 129 runs with 6 wickets remaining in their 1st innings and the game is evenly balanced going into day three.
The first day finished when Liam Plunkett was bowled first ball by Alfonso Thomas with the second ball of that over. Thomas started the day finishing that over to incoming batsman Steven Patterson in overcast conditions with Yorkshire on 345 for 8 with former England man Tim Bresnan at the other end on 56. The latter batted with consummate ease in the early stages – taking a particular liking to the bowling of Peter Trego – as the two eased their way to a hundred partnership and a fifth batting point for their team to turn the screws on Somerset’s hard-working bowlers.
It is easy to forget how impressive Bresnan can be with the bat but he worked his way to a well-deserved century off 136 balls in 176 minutes, striking 12×4’s and 1×6 along the way. He received generous applause from all supporters in the ground when he passed three figures for the first time in eight years.
Patterson had some fortune at times but struck 8×4’s in his 42 runs before he edged one to keeper Alex Barrow off Trego with the score on 437 to become the ninth wicket to fall. Craig Overton removed Jack Brooks a few balls later, also caught behind by Barrow, without troubling the scorers so Yorkshire’s innings closed on 438 with Bresnan stranded on 100 not out.
The wickets were shared between four bowlers with Trego topping the honours with 4 for 73 and Craig Overton taking 3 for 74.
Marcus Trescothick entered this game after a pair at Trent Bridge but if he was feeling nervous it didn’t show as he impressively drove two of Bresnan’s first three deliveries to the boundary. At the other end Tom Abell then struck two boundaries in the second over, bowled by Brooks, as both players set their stall. There were few drama’s as both batted resolutely waiting patiently for any bad ball to dispatch in a stand that was worth 84 runs in 24 overs. Trescothick had passed the 50 mark and was on 56 when he edged Patterson to keeper Jonny Bairstow.
By now the County Ground was awash with sunshine as Abell was joined by Johan Myburgh and the two added 79 runs with young Tom becoming the second Somerset player to pass the half century stage. He looked set for a big score but edged one from Rashid to Bresnan and was out for 62 with Somerset now 163 for 2.
Somerset hearts would have been fluttering wildly when Myburgh became the third wicket to fall just two runs later having scored a dogged 41, with memories of the early season batting collapses fresh in the minds.
James Hildreth has been in inspirational form for Somerset and entered the game needing 167 runs to become the first since Graeme Hick in 1988 to score 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May. This in total contrast to Tom Cooper who has failed to excite the Somerset faithful so far, so both were under differing types of pressure with their team in need of some stability. And the pressure showed with the confident Hildreth on the offensive and happy to play his shots – including consecutive straight sixes off Rashid – and the nervous Cooper on the defensive initially while he regained his confidence.
The two put on 129 and took the team within six runs of a third batting point when Hildreth, who appeared keen to move the score along swiftly to reach his century before close of play, went down the wicket to Rashid only to offer a simple caught and bowled. He had scored 82 excellent runs, including 10×4’s and 2×6’s, but looked forlorn as he trudged off but will pass Hick’s feat should he manage 85 in the second innings.
Cooper was batting confidently now and with the swagger expected of him preseason. He was joined by nightwatchman Thomas and the Dutch international became the fourth fifty of the day for Somerset and finished on 55 not out having hit 9×4’s. Thomas will start day 3 on 4 not out.
Somerset will be hoping to pass 400 and gain a fifth batting point themselves and have plenty of time to achieve this, needing 91 runs in 35 overs.
So a good day for Somerset and all those watching the game which remains evenly poised. It was a good day for Yorkshire supporters for another reason when Jason Gillespie announced before play that he would be staying at Headingley and not leaving to coach England.
After the day Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale told the Northern Echo: “We didn’t really bowl like champions.
“It started off well, but fair play to Somerset, they played really attacking cricket and put us on the back foot from the word go. We never got any consistency with our lines and lengths. We’ve got to turn up with a different mindset and roll them over.”
Tom Abell was happy with his day, saying: “It’s always great to get a bit of time out in the middle and I have felt a little bit short of runs recently. It’s also nice to get a few partnerships going at the top of the order and personally, I was really helped by the way others played around me.
“It gave me the chance to establish myself and I found it a really good challenge against some really good bowlers.”