22 wickets fall on the opening day at Taunton
Day One Report
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.