In future years, when people reflect back on Somerset’s first game of the 2018 campaign there will be one overriding detail: that Somerset beat Worcestershire easily and inside three days.
A scorecard doesn’t always tell the whole story, of course, and there are a few discussion points, but a win is a win and this is the first time since – well I can’t remember when – that Somerset kick-started a Championship campaign with a victory. And a good win it was too.
It wasn’t always plain sailing and some of the woes of previous seasons seemed to be returning to haunt us, most notably the batting collapse that followed James Hildreth’s dismissal when he was the third man out with the score on 99. Few would have expected – or should I say hoped – Somerset would succumb to 202 all out.
But the positive’s outweighed all else. Matt Renshaw had a fine debut innings carrying his bat for a first century in Somerset colours, joining an elite group of overseas players to score a ton on debut with Alviro Petersen and Jamie Cox two recent examples.
It took James Hildreth some time to get going in 2017 – his benefit year – so brilliant to see him follow-up his first innings 48 with an undefeated century as well. And a fine century it was – his 40th for Somerset at just 33 years young. His 159 runs in this game equate to just over one fifth of his 756 Championship runs during the whole of last season.
And wasn’t it great to see Lewis Gregory steaming in again? The young Plymouth-born fast bowler was dogged by injury last term but it was he who reduced Worcestershire to 17 for 3 in their first innings reply as he helped himself to four wickets, and a further 3 in the second innings gave him match figures of 7 for 86. He looked dangerous and well up for it.
And the other seamers made useful contributions too.
Of course some of the middle to lower order batsmen will look back knowing they need to contribute more. On paper we have a batting line-up down to number 11, as the likes of Davey, Groenewald and Leach are certainly no mugs with bat in hand, so that was the disappointing aspect. But this was the first game of the season and early season wickets can be volatile as was demonstrated in other games around the country.
A large number of cricket followers expect Worcestershire to struggle this season so there was an expectation from some Somerset supporters that they would just crumble in this game. But it doesn’t work like that and the visitors came to Taunton with one game already under their belt. And in Steve Magoffin they have a bowler who often thrives against Somerset and I was very impressed with Ed Barnard who took 11 wickets in the game whilst also scoring 95 runs.
The old adage that you can only beat who is in front of you applies and Somerset beat Worcestershire convincingly with some room for improvement. So let’s enjoy the win.