|Ground:||County Ground, Taunton|
|Scorecard:||Somerset v Sussex|
|Player:||PD Trego, JC Hildreth|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2015|
SOMERSET v SUSSEX
A relief from the unsettled weather of the first day and a half of the match enabled the Somerset batsmen to find better conditions for their skills, and during the afternoon James Hildreth and Peter Trego gave Somerset back an initiative which they had looked like losing. The home team had lost four wickets for 36 before tea, after Sussex had been dismissed for 208, but their admirable fightback earned them a century partnership and put their team firmly back in the driving seat.
The second day was to prove as rain-riddled and interrupted than the first. Play did begin on time again, with Sussex resuming on 145 for six wickets; Luke Wright had 9 and Steve Magoffin had not yet scored, and Somerset appeared to be on top at this stage.
Runs did not come easily. After 18 minutes the score had been raised to 154, and at this point Magoffin flashed at a ball from Thomas, to be caught in the slips for 5. The first break for rain came at 35 minutes, but lasted only eight, when the score was 163. Wright was doing most of the scoring, but even he was struggling against fine, persistent seam bowling. He now began to find his timing, while Ashar Zaidi struggled grimly to survive or to score, but did the right job for his team and his partner by digging in, scoring just two singles off his first 43 balls.
More rain came with the score at 187, by which time Wright had moved on to 39. An early lunch was taken, and when the players returned they took the score past 200. But the innings was to end suddenly with a wicket in each of three consecutive overs with the second new ball. Zaidi finally lost concentration, flashed at a ball from Alfonso Thomas and was caught at the wicket. Later that over Wright reached his fifty, after 104 balls, but in the following over he skied an attempted pull off Luke Gregory to midwicket.
Finally the last man Matt Hobden edged Thomas to the keeper and the innings was over for 208. It was not an impressive effort on the whole, but the bowling was always testing; Thomas finished with four wickets and Gregory with three. Three catches were taken by the wicketkeeper and four by the slips.
Somerset began their reply, Magoffin bowled five deliveries, Marcus Trescothick drove the fifth down the ground to the boundary, and the rain drove the players off again for more than half an hour. When they returned runs were again difficult to obtain, and Trescothick on 7 was dropped at first slip off Magoffin. However, he had only added a single when, in Magoffins next over, he drove loosely and this time the chance was held; Somerset 12 for one.
Tom Abell fought his way to 16 off 47 balls, but then became yet another victim in the box, pushing forward to a ball from Ollie Robinson to be caught by the keeper; 33 for two. Before another run had been scored his partner Johann Myburgh was trapped lbw by Hobden for 9, and at 36 James Allenby joined the club as he edged Robinson to the keeper without scoring. Somerset appeared to be sliding down the same road as Sussex.
James Hildreth and Peter Trego were now together, and they decided the time had come for some urgency. They had a couple of narrow escapes, but succeeded in taking Somerset through to the tea interval with a score of 60 for four. At this stage the match was well-balanced due to the early inroads made by the Sussex seamers.
Afterwards Hildreth was content to keep his end up while Trego took on the role of aggressor while the sun began to shine more consistently and the bowlers found less movement. Trego raced to his fifty off 61 balls, by far the fastest scoring in this match so far, but then Hildreth decided it was time he too got moving and also went on the attack. He sped through the thirties and forties, to bring up his half-century off 84 balls.
The warm evening sunshine saw the bat continue to dominate the ball, and Somerset maintain their advantage. Luke Wells, briefly, caused some surprise by getting his off-breaks to bounce and turn, but he was unable to break through, and at the end of the day Somerset were only 32 runs behind the visitors, and still had six wickets in hand. Hildreth finished the day with 63, Trego with 71, and their unbroken partnership is currently worth 140 runs, out of 176 for four wickets. Advantage Somerset.
(Article: Copyright © 2015 John Ward)