PREVIEW: Somerset v Lancashire
Somerset vs Lancashire - Specsavers County Championship
Read our match preview ahead of the Specsavers County Championship clash against Somerset at Taunton.
Cooper Associates County Ground
Tuesday 4 September - Friday 7 September (10.30am)
Lancashire’s bid to secure Division One safety was given a major boost with their impressive victory over Worcestershire at Southport last week as they chased down 314 to win by four wickets.
The Red Rose’s second win from 11 matches this season has taken them out of the bottom two places at the expense of Yorkshire.
Dane Vilas was their hero with a brilliant third day century on Friday, while Josh Bohannon was just as good with 78 not out in only his second game.
They will now be hoping to build on their success against a Somerset side who still harbour hopes of winning a first Championship title.
After beating Yorkshire at Emerald Headingley on Saturday, the gap between themselves and leaders Surrey is now 32 points with four to play.
Those two sides meet at Taunton in the penultimate week of the season.
More importantly, Lancashire are fifth in the table, two points clear of the bottom two places.
Essex in third to bottom side Worcester are separated by just 32 points. Everybody in the division bar Lancashire and Nottinghamshire have four fixtures remaining. They have three.
Captain Liam Livingstone is back in contention having recovered from his broken thumb suffered whilst fielding in the Roses Championship defeat to Yorkshire at Emirates Old Trafford in late July.
Livingstone scored a double century playing league cricket for Cheadle on Saturday.
Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson will come back into the equation having been omitted from team to face Worcester, with South Africa Test left-armer Keshav Maharaj favoured.
The Taunton pitches are no longer the dust bowls have been in recent seasons, with it nicknamed Ciderabad.
But, with Jack Leach and Dom Bess in their ranks, it would be no surprise to see a two-spinner pitch prepared.
Somerset have won six of 10 matches this season, including winning their last three on the spin.
They brushed Yorkshire aside at Headingley last week, with captain Tom Abell scoring a second-innings century and all-rounder Lewis Gregory contributing with bat and ball.
He is a danger man to Lancashire given his recent good form in Championship and T20 cricket.
Somerset’s overseas players have been a major success this season, with Australian opener Matthew Renshaw now replaced by Azhar Ali.
The former Pakistan captain has scored a century and an 89 in his first three games.
LAST TIME OUT
It was match drawn at Emirates Old Trafford in early May.
Both sides traded 400 plus scores in their first innings, with Lancashire taking a lead of 63 thanks to Keaton Jennings’ 103 and 235 not out from Dane Vilas.
Lancashire then pushed hard for victory on day four, but they ran out of time as a 131-ball 66 from Jack Leach helped the visitors recover from 197-7.
At 145-6, Somerset were only 82 runs ahead midway through the day, but Leach helped to marshal the tail and frustrate the Red Rose, finishing on 269-8. Matthew Parkinson took a second-innings five-wicket haul.
WHAT THEY SAID
Glen Chapple has paid tribute to young gun Josh Bohannon, who has made a stunning start to life as a County Championship cricketer.
The Bolton-born all-rounder hit a debut half-century in defeat at Surrey before his unbeaten 78 helped seal victory over Worcestershire.
Twenty-one-years-old, Bohannon has debuted in all forms of first-team cricket for Lancashire this summer and looks like a man for the big occasion, similar to how his coach was during his playing days.
“Josh has had a great start,” said Chapple.
“He’s a very competitive player, he’s athletic, he’s fast in the field, quick between the wickets, and his technique is good as well. He’s got plenty of shots as well.
“It’s exciting for him, and I hope it continues for the rest of the season. He can look forward to a good career.”
Lancashire now head to Taunton in buoyant mood, although Bohannon’s partner in the stunning seventh-wicket partnership of 139, Dane Vilas, is refusing to get too carried away with Lancashire’s result at Southport.
“We want to take it one game at a time and play some good cricket,” said the South African.
“We knew that this game was important because Worcester are very close to us. Now we can hopefully put in good performances the next three games.
“We have a big game coming up against Somerset at Taunton, and we played really well against them last time.
“It’s perfect (that they like to have spinning pitches at Taunton).
“Hopefully it plays into our hands with guys like Keshav (Maharaj), who’s coming off a nine-for against Sri Lanka, and a guy like Parky, who’s been incredible for us.
“If they want to go with that, we are happy.”