Tuesday 4 - Friday 7 September 2018
Lewis Gregory’s third successive Specsavers County Championship half-century batted Somerset into a strong position as 22 wickets fell on the opening day against Lancashire at Taunton.
Having won the toss, the visitors were skittled for just 99, left-arm spinner Jack Leach returning five for 28 and seamer Jamie Overton three for 32. Alex Davies top-scored with 20.
In reply, Somerset crashed to 104 for eight before Gregory, who finished unbeaten on 64, added 33 with Overton (24) and 55 with last man Leach, who contributed 17, before the hosts were bowled out from 192, a lead of 93.
Another left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj, finished with four for 65, while seamer Graham Onions returned three for 40.
Lancashire were left with six overs to face in their second innings and closed on seven for two, Leach removing Alex Davies and nightwatchman Matt Parkinson, without conceding a run, to still trail by 86.
A strange first day saw the pitch offer some turn from the moment Leach was introduced for the 16th over of the match.
There was no sign of the carnage ahead when Lancashire reached 47 for one. Karl Brown had carelessly pulled a Gregory long hop to mid-wicket and when Steven Croft was stumped for 14, advancing to a wide ball from Leach it signalled a dramatic change in fortunes.
Eight more wickets fell either side of lunch for the addition of only 52 runs. Leach produced a beauty to have Dane Vilas caught behind for 11, but Liam Livingstone, and Davies followed Brown in departing to loose shots.
Leach got some deliveries to turn sharply, but at the other end it was seam bowling doing the damage, Overton yorking Onions and producing some pacey deliveries.
It was the same story when Somerset batted, Maharaj turning the ball from the same end as Leach after Onions, from the other end, had sent back Marcus Trescothick, Azhar Ali and James Hildreth, who at least made 32 before falling with the total 60 for four.
Maharaj ran through the middle order and at one stage Somerset were looking at a minimal lead, if any at all. But Gregory and Jamie Overton counter-attacked and when the latter was dismissed having a swing, Leach marched out to play a key role with the bat.
Gregory faced 73 balls and hit 3 fours and 3 sixes to continue a golden run of form. The previous Championship game had seen him score two fifties and take six wickets in the victory over Yorkshire at Headingley.
But, having had a pitch marked below average when they beat Middlesex in a key relegation battle at the end of last season, they will be anxiously awaiting the report of ECB Cricket Liaison Officer Dean Cosker.
Thirteen of the wickets fell to spin and, while there was no variation in bounce, that statistic will be of concern to the home camp.
Keshav Maharaj returned seven for 37 as Lancashire claimed an unlikely tie from a drama-packed Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.
Set only 78 to win after Jack Leach completed career-best match figures of 12 for 102 in Lancashire’s second innings of 170, Somerset crashed to 77 all out, their last two wickets falling with one run needed to win.
Left-arm spinner Maharaj was the hero, ending with 11 for 102 in the match. But Graham Onions contributed three important wickets as no home batsman could reach 20 under pressure.
Both teams took 11 points from the first Championship tie since 2003 and the outcome proved what could be a mortal blow to Somerset’s hopes of a first ever Championship title.
The hosts will also be awaiting the outcome of the pitch report from ECB Cricket Liaison Officer Dean Cosker with some concern after 25 wickets in the match fell to spin.
Lancashire began day two on seven for two. It was seamer Craig Overton who struck the first two blows, pinning Karl Brown lbw driving, while nightwatchman Tom Bailey, newly awarded his county cap, chipped a catch to Azhar Ali at mid-on.
From 24 for four, Croft and Livingstone put together a stand of 57 in positive fashion. But Leach then had Livingstone, who blasted 6 fours and 2 sixes, caught at short third-man, aiming another big hit.
Dane Vilas edged to slip without scoring and when Josh Bohannon went in similar fashion on the stroke of lunch Lancashire were 119 for seven.
The afternoon session saw Croft reach an excellent half-century off 108 balls, with 7 fours. But, having helped advance the total to 131, he got an inside edge to Overton and was caught behind.
Maharaj struck a couple of meaty blows before being stumped off Leach and Graham Onions had smashed 3 fours and a six when last man out, caught on the mid-wicket boundary.
Somerset had knocked off only five of the required runs when Marcus Trescothick fell leg-before to Onions, who then had Azhar Ali taken at second slip for a first ball duck.
James Hildreth was bowled attempting to cut a ball from Maharaj that hurried through and it was 20 for four when Tom Abell dragged his back foot playing defensively to be stumped off the same bowler.
Steve Davies went lbw to Onions and Ben Green edged a catch to slip off Maharaj to leave Somerset 37 for six, still needing 41. The tea break came with that figure reduced to 26 and soon afterwards Maharaj removed both Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton lbw.
With 14 required, Jamie Overton struck an aerial boundary just beyond the reach of Livingstone to an audible gasp from the 2,000 crowd. Amazingly, with the scores level, Dom Bess,on 19, was stumped trying to hit Maharaj out of the ground and Leach blotted his copybook by being caught by Bailey at wide long-on off a skyer, Overton having just played out a maiden from Onions.