Somerset batting collapses. They are as certain as night following day and almost as frequent. The latest edition was induced by Warwickshire’s ever-reliable off spinner, Jeetan Patel, who took five wickets including Somerset’s top three.
The cider county’s score was given some respectability by another hard-hitting Craig Overton half-century and useful thirties from Alfonso Thomas and Tim Groenewald. But on a flattening pitch, the eventual total of 265 was below-par.
On a deck offering little assistance for seam bowlers, Somerset made a solid enough start after electing to bat. Tom Abell fell early on, to Patel’s first delivery, but at 75 for 1 Somerset were content.
Then came the inevitable collapse. Similar to the first innings against Middlesex, the middle order failed to capitalise on a solid start by playing some loose shots.
Michael Bates, surprisingly promoted to three in the order after the dropping of Johann Myburgh, was caught by Varun Chopra at midwicket off Patel just before lunch for a gritty 16.
Frustratingly, Marcus Trescothick failed once again to capitalise on a start by playing an unnecessarily attacking shot to Patel which was taken at cover. His 48 came from 108 balls and included 7 fours, mainly through the off side.
The returning Tom Cooper failed to carry over his Second XI form (which included a century and a seventy); he fended a Chris Woakes outswinger to Rikki Clarke in the slips.
Woakes, back from injury and searching for form in the hope of an England return, got rid of James Hildreth and Peter Trego caught in the slips too, and Somerset were staring down the barrel at 127 for 6.
Jim Allenby some provided resistance, hitting 2 leg side sixes and 3 fours in a counter-attacking 37. But he edged to the slips too; this time Patel was the catcher and Clarke the bowler.
Craig Overton was at the other end and similarly playing the only way he knows how: attack. He took Somerset’s score towards something at least a little substantial by belting eight fours all around the wicket, including three off one Oliver Hannon-Dalby over. He recorded a run-a-ball 51, and is making rather a habit of scoring valuable runs just as Somerset need them – this is his third half-century of the season and sixth of his career.
After the loss of Abdur Rehman for 13 (caught at extra cover off Patel), Overton took Somerset’s score just into bonus point territory when he was taken brilliantly at short leg by Sam Hain off Patel to complete the New Zealander’s first five-for of the season.
More much-appreciated runs were added by Alfonso Thomas and Tim Groenewald. The pair were far more circumspect than the rest of the batting line-up – they occupied the crease for 23.2 overs and added 64 runs to irritate the Warwickshire bowling attack. Both men capitalised on dropped catches and hit 3 fours apiece along with a slog-swept Groenewald six.
The final pair’s efforts gave Somerset a second batting point before Clarke ended the stand by having Groenewald caught by Hain for 34. Thomas remained unbeaten on 32.
But the efforts of the lower order cannot mask yet more lack of discipline from Somerset’s batting line-up. Too many fell to rash shots on a deck devoid of too many demons. This was perhaps shown by the fact that every batsman fell to catches from outfielders; a rare occurrence.
Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood safely negotiated ten overs of Somerset bowling to end the day on 22 without loss.
On his innings, Craig Overton said, “It felt pretty good and it’s always nice to contribute but I would have liked a few more runs out there.
“As a team we would have liked to have got 80 to 100 more, but that’s the way it goes. At one stage we were 120-odd for 6 so we’re happy to get 260, but the batters are disappointed because we didn’t get enough.”
He added, “The wicket is a little bit two-paced and they bowled well after lunch and took wickets, but we need to come back hard in the morning. If we bowl like they did we will get early wickets.
“There was a bit of turn out there so hopefully Rehman can come into the game and do the same for us.”