A dominant third day performance from Somerset could not prevent their pre-season fixture against Durham MCCU ending in a draw, but there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game.
Starting the day’s play in a commanding position, at 264/3, Johann Myburgh and Jim Allenby came out to bat in the morning with scores of 115 and 2 respectively, and with few demons in the Taunton Vale pitch, the pair accelerated in the opening session.
The fourth wicket pair added 90 runs between them in just under twenty overs before skipper Marcus Trescothick’s declaration before lunch, which came straight after Myburgh reached the 150 mark.
The South African batsman, who joined Somerset in 2014, had previously reached the milestone in the country of his birth, for Northerns B in February 1998, and in New Zealand, for Canterbury, in March 2009, and Trescothick was keen to wait until he reached 150 in a third country before declaring.
The over before the declaration, Jim Allenby had brought up a half-century on his Somerset first-class debut, reaching the landmark thanks to consecutive boundaries – his seventh and eighth of the innings – off leg-spinner Darrel Williams.
With the hosts having racked up 354/3, Durham MCCU faced a tricky 40 minutes of batting before lunch, and instantly found themselves in trouble after the loss of Charlie MacDonnell to the second ball of the innings, caught by Trescothick at slip off the bowling of Lewis Gregory.
In overcast conditions, with the ball moving around, it took the students until the fifth over of their innings to get off the mark, and more wickets fell in the sixth and seventh overs. First, Robert Gibson spooned a catch to Jack Leach – who resembled the recently retired New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori in a suave pair of glasses – off the bowling of Peter Trego, and next Chaitanya Bishnoi offered Allenby a slip catch to give Gregory a second wicket.
After lunch, a 43-run partnership between former Somerset Seconds player Cameron Steel and Yeovil-born Will Jenkins steadied the ship for the Dingos before the latter fell, giving the Leach-Gregory combination another wicket with the score on 52.
‘Keeper Ollie Steele joined his skipper Steel at the crease, but only contributed two to a 24-run partnership before he was bowled by the resurgent Jamie Overton, bringing Ed Pollock, a 19-year-old left-hander to the wicket.
The pair calmed any fears of their side losing all ten wickets, with 53 runs being added in 17.2 overs before Steel, who hit twelve fours and a six in his 159-ball innings, was dismissed by slow left-armer Leach for 80.
Trego managed a second wicket in the final over of the day, with Pollock (15) being caught behind by Alex Barrow, but after Jack Wood and Dmitri Ratnayake kept out four dot balls apiece, the captains shook hands and the game was drawn.
Peter Trego’s final figures of 2/16 were bettered only by all-rounder Gregory’s 3/37, and afterwards the Plymouth-born seamer commented “the weather wasn’t the kindest to us but the match has been a good exercise for us.”
“It was good for our batters to spend some time in the middle and I’m really chuffed that Johann [Myburgh] got his first century for the club, while Hildy [James Hildreth] hit his first of the season. Then, today, the bowlers had a good work out and time in the middle, so it has been a productive couple of days.”
On his own personal performance, Gregory told the club’s website: “I’m happy with where my game is, and today was a good exercise to get some overs under my belt and to bowl a few overs in a day, so I’m happy, and hopefully everything will kick on from where I was last year.”
Somerset’s final pre-season fixture against Lancashire starts on Tuesday at Taunton, a fixture which could see Tom Cooper and Abdur Rehman play for the first time in 2015.