Ian Westwood, Jonathan Trott and Sam Hain all passed fifty for Warwickshire, but their good work was undone somewhat by that middle order collapse.
Warwickshire resumed their innings on 22 without loss, and openers Westwood and Varun Chopra progressed largely untroubled against some disciplined bowling until the latter cut Craig Overton to Peter Trego at gully for 33.
Somerset were plugging away hard without giving anything away – Abdur Rehman’s first five overs were maidens – and they soon had another reward when Laurie Evans was lbw to Jim Allenby for 7.
Westwood and Trott increased the scoring rate slightly in the second session to take Warwickshire to a strong 161 for 2. Westwood had brought up a patient half-century from 150 balls, including just 2 fours, but he was Somerset’s next victim when Alfonso Thomas flattened his off stump for 66 (175 balls, 4×4).
But Hain carried on where Westwood left off as he and Trott looked to grind Somerset’s bowlers into the dirt.
Trott, who retired from international cricket in May this year after a poor West Indies series, played in his inimitable style, giving the bowlers nothing and playing predominantly through the leg side with plenty of classic flicks for four. On a day where England’s top order struggles were viciously exposed by Mitchell Johnson and co, it gave the selectors a reminder of a more stable era for England’s batting line-up.
But Somerset’s bowlers never gave up, and the wicket of Trott, edging an Overton outswinger to ‘keeper Bates for 87 (145 balls, 11×4), precipitated the collapse.
Having curiously delayed the new ball for seven overs, suddenly Somerset’s bowlers were rejuvenated; Trott had gone three balls after it had been taken. In the next over Tim Ambrose fell too, for a duck – Overton was the catcher this time, Thomas the bowler.
Hain reached his fifty with a four through cover, but Rikki Clarke (1) couldn’t hang around, edging another beautiful Overton outswinger into Tom Cooper’s hands at gully.
Chris Woakes (8) fell to the same combination, playing across the line but somehow using the back of his bat to slice it to Cooper in the same position.
When Keith Barker (5) edged to Overton in the slips off Thomas, Warwickshire were suddenly eight down with a lead of just 17.
Hain remained at the crease, and he and Jeetan Patel looked to make up for the middle order’s failure to capitalise with a brisk unbeaten partnership of 37 in the closing overs. Warwickshire will resume on day three 54 runs ahead, with Hain on 78 and Patel 20; Somerset have four overs to get the ninth wicket for their final bowling point. It will be a pivotal day that will go some way towards deciding the result of this match.
Somerset Assistant Coach Jason Kerr said after the day’s play, “We have attacked brilliantly all day and it’s very attritional cricket. Hain and Trott batted well and endeavoured to get away from us, but when the second new ball came around we got our rewards for how we bowled all day.”
On Craig Overton he said, “He has been outstanding all season and today was no different. He went out and did what he does best. He hit some fantastic areas on a pitch that hasn’t got a lot of pace in it and with the new ball he got some lateral movement as well and got his rewards.
“The whole bowling unit has performed well for us today – Thomas, Groenewald and Allenby, while Rehman has bowled superbly to give us control at one end.”
Looking ahead to the remainder of this match, he said, “The key for us now is to get the two remaining wickets as quickly as we can in the morning and to get as many runs as possible. We need to try to build as big a lead as we can, and with the way the wicket is playing there will be an opportunity for us over the next two days.”