Somerset travelled to Manchester hoping to immediately put to bed any disappointments from the opening game defeat at home to Essex one week before.
The visitors made two changes bringing in Josh Davey and Tim Groenewald to freshen up the pace attack at the expense of Jamie Overton and Roleof van der Merwe.
But the major concern among Somerset supporters was the batting performance in the opening game with the middle order subject to some lacklustre shot decisions.
Lancashire were buoyed by the return of England’s James Anderson to lead their attack and carry in their ranks two players with England hopes and potential in Haseeb Hameed and Liam Livingstone so the visitors would need to be on top of their game to gain any return.
The home team had managed to draw with Essex in their opening fixture of the season and managed a similar result against Surrey in the second game, having made them follow-on.
Lancashire 109 all out.
The toss was not contested and Somerset elected to field first. Josh Davey made an immediate impact on this match removing Haseeb Hameed in his first over then Alex Davies in his second as Lancashire slipped to 1 for 2. Procter and Livingstone took the score to 35 before Craig Overton took the first two of his five wickets removing the former for 24 then Rob Jones for 0. From there the wickets fell steadily and Lancashire were indebted to Livingstone’s fine 68 as his team were shot out for only 109.
Overton finished with 5 for 47 supported by Tim Gronewald, whose 3 wickets cost only 8 runs from 8.4 overs. Davey had those two early wickets for 33. By mid-afternoon Somerset had bowled themselves into a very strong position.
Somerset 278 all out
Dean Elgar showed Somerset supporters why the club brought him back to the CACG with a fantastic unbeaten century to dominate his side’s response. What made his contribution more impressive was that he spent the entire innings watching his team-mates falling like flies as Somerset made hard work of gaining a lead over their hosts.
It started well; Trescothick (20) helped see the away team to 42 before he became the first of Ryan McLaren’s 8 victims in the game but 2 runs later captain Abell had been and gone and it was 44-2.
From there it was pretty poor as Somerset slipped to 153-8 to close the first day with Elgar 66* joined by Leach on 1. Only Hildreth and Trego scored double figures in the middle order in a day when 18 wickets fell.
The second day was much brighter for the visiting supporters as Elgar reached his century and Leachy scored a half-century in a stand of 96. Groeners added 20 to become the joint third-highest scorer in the innings as Somerset were finally dismissed for 278 and a lead of 169. The tail had wagged well and Somerset were in a match winning position.
Lancashire 463 all out
Again Somerset took the attack to their hosts as Lewis Gregory – who bowled well in the first innings with no return – removed Hameed and Procter with the score on 23. But this just brought Livingstone to the crease to join opener Davies and the two both scored hundred’s to set up a victory that looked unlikely after both sides first innings.
At the end of day 2 Lancashire were 152-2 – still 17 behind – but batted throughout day 3 with only five wickets falling. Davies’ 130 included 17x4s and Livingstone’s 168 included 19x4s and 2x6s in a match changing stand of 245. Ryan McLaren continued to make an impact with 45 as the home team were finally dismissed for 463 leaving Somerset to score 295 in 77 overs.
Gregs had a fivefer for only 74 runs in 32 overs. Well bowled that man.
Somerset 130 all out
A bright start by Somerset, who looked in contention on 78-2, proved to be nothing more than a false dawn. Jimmy Anderson struck twice in 10 balls to remove ex-England team-mates Marcus Trescothick (36) and Steven Davies to start a dramatic session where 8 wickets would fall for just 52 runs scored.
Only Hildy offered any resistance but when he was 6th man out for 43 and the total 103 Somerset looked beaten. There were three ducks including Leachy and Groeners who had offered defiant knocks first time around and, most worryingly, a second nought of the season for Tabes who has now only scored 2 runs in 4 innings.
McLaren’s (4-37) and Jordan Clark (3-12) ensured Somerset were then shot out for 130 to lose by 164 runs. McLaren’s haul followed his 4 for 76 in the first innings.
In a remarkable turnaround Lancashire took the win – a first in 14 County Championship games stretching back to May 24th last year – to leave Somerset stranded at the bottom of the table.
Lancashire (19 pts) beat Somerset (5 pts) by 164 runs
Umpires – RJ Bailey and M Burns
The fact that Somerset became Lancashire’s first victims in four-day cricket in about eleven months speaks volumes for the disappointment of this defeat. The cider county were in a winning position thanks to the brilliance of Elgar and the gritty determination of the tail-enders Leachy and Groeners. This was a game thrown away – plain and simple.
Tom Abell told the press he felt it was one of those days: “It was a bit of deja vu after last week I think. Having worked so hard to get ourselves in a good position, to lose as we have done is massively disappointing. You look back at phases of the game which change the course and Jimmy Anderson’s spell was certainly one of them,” he told the club’s official site.
“But it was always going to be tough today and there were balls which had people’s names on them unfortunately.”
Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “Of course this isn’t the start to the season that we wanted but it has happened and we can’t dwell on it. We always knew that it was going to be hard batting today and Lancashire bowled well and hit good areas and a couple of the balls were unplayable.”
“We couldn’t get those important partnerships together which has been a slight issue in both games. However we have got a bit of a break and time to re-group before we start again with the red ball in about a months’ time or so.”
Somerset have over three weeks away from the four-day game when Warwickshire visit the CACG on 19th May. The Brummies sit one place above the cider men in the table. But before that there are eight 50-over games to play in the Royal London One Day Cup starting with Surrey in a televised game tomorrow (Friday 28th April). This was a tournament that galvanised the team last season with some gutsy performances so offers an opportunity to do as Matt says and regroup. Who better to beat and kick-start the season than the team most Somerset supporters dislike the most?
Jim Allenby will come in to captain the team and will most likely open with Steven Davies and it will be interesting to see who else comes into the side. Adam Hose and Johan Myburgh have probably done enough in the 2nd’s to be considered with Tom struggling for form and Paul van Meekeren may also get the nod.