Blatherwick best as bowlers head Lancs victory bid
A career-best four-wicket haul by Jack Blatherwick in his maiden first-class bowling stint for Lancashire, and three late wickets by Luke Wells, have helped give the Red Rose a big advantage after two breathless and fast-moving days of LV= Insurance County Championship action at Taunton.
Lancashire produced an excellent bowling performance to stun Somerset this morning with the hosts all out for a paltry 90.
Made to follow-on Somerset launched a great comeback thanks to a rapid century from Tom Lammonby who found excellent support from Azhar Ali in a century second-wicket partnership.
But as the home side closed in on the 283-run first-innings deficit, Luke Wells made the breakthrough with three late evening wickets pegging Somerset back as they closed on 226-4 and behind by 57 runs.
Lancashire could only add nine runs to their first innings overnight score to be 373 all out with Bailey last out for an excellent 63, just five shy of his career-best score.
And Bailey was soon starring with the ball, producing a beautiful swinging, seaming delivery that bowled a helpless Ben Green second ball for 0 and then nipping one back to trap left-hander Lammonby lbw for 6 in a superb opening spell of 9-4-9-2.
George Balderson produced the perfect line and length to find an edge from Tom Abell, pushing forward defensively, to wicketkeeper Alex Davies for a five-ball duck to leave Somerset 32-3.
And Balderson then had James Hildreth well caught low down at first slip by Wells with Azhar Ali providing the only resistance to be 22 not out at lunch with the hosts in early trouble on 46-4.
It could easily have worse for Somerset if Lewis Goldsworthy had been run out on 0 just before the break but he was let off when the throw went to other end with the batsman way out of his ground.
Goldsworthy’s good fortune continued when he was twice dropped at slip straight after the afternoon resumption but Rob Jones made no mistake at third slip as the batsman edged once again to give Blatherwick his maiden Lancashire wicket.
That was the start of a golden spell by Blatherwick who took four wickets in 15 balls to return a career-best 4-28 and destroy the Somerset middle order in the process.
Steve Davies edged behind for 1, Roelof van der Merwe was beaten by movement and bowled for 4 second ball while Jack Brooks edged to Danny Lamb at slip for 0 as Blatherwick produced a superb spell, finding good pace and movement.
Danny Lamb knocked over Marchant de Lange’s stumps and Bailey (3-9) returned to trap Azhar Ali lbw for 39, the Pakistan Test veteran only one of two Somerset batsman to reach double figures as the home side were shot out for 90. If Lancashire hadn’t spilled four catches it could have been much less but that was the only blemish on a fine display with the ball by the visitors.
It was a stunning bowling performance and Vilas had little hesitation in enforcing the follow-on with a lead of 283 runs and Somerset’s innings only lasting for 38.2 overs.
Somerset, no doubt smarting from their first innings capitulation, responded in a much more positive fashion with Green and Lammonby going for their shots from the start of their second attempt, rattling up 69 inside 12 overs with Lammonby pulling Bailey for six over square leg.
That prompted Vilas to turn to Matt Parkinson for the first time in the match and the leg spinner struck with his fifth delivery when Green attempted to hit the ball into the River Tone but instead was easily stumped by Alex Davies for 31.
Azhar Ali and Lammonby continued in similar style to launch a great fightback with Lammonby hitting a second six off Parkinson with his twelfth boundary bringing up the century partnership off just 118 balls.
It was proving to be a tough afternoon for the Red Rose attack as the wicket eased and the runs flowed, but the nature of the session changed dramatically when Vilas turned to the off spin of Luke Wells in the final hour with Somerset going well on 194-1.
Lammonby had just reached a 99-ball century in style by hitting Parkinson for six but Wells trapped him lbw on that score and three balls later celebrated a double-wicket maiden when Abell chipped a full toss to Vilas at midwicket to bag a pair.
Wells then beat Azhar Ali with a lovely flighted delivery that gripped, drew the batsman forward and Alex Davies completed an excellent stumping with Ali gone for 50 and Somerset suddenly 199-4, with Wells having figures of 3-1.
The home side held out to reach the close on 226-4 with Lancashire still favourites but they will have to work hard tomorrow if they are to seal victory.
Photos: Getty Images & Luke Adams