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George Dobell at Trent Bridge
April 20, 2012
Somerset 78 for 1 trial Nottinghamshire 162 (Read 104*) by 84 runs
If good leadership is about setting an example, Chris Read might have to be considered a masterful captain. While his colleagues poked and prodded like blind men, Read compiled an outstanding century that made it appear, as Peter Trego put it "as if he was playing on a different pitch."
The simple facts are these: while Read made a chanceless, unbeaten 104, none of his team-mates managed more than ten. While Read made 72 of his runs in boundaries - 15 fours and two sixes - his ten colleagues could muster only three fours between them. None of the top five managed any. And while Read recorded the 21st century of his first-class career, the next highest contribution was extras with 17. Read scored 64% of Nottinghamshire's runs and looked a class above a top-order containing four other men whose batting has won them international caps for England. Three games into the season, Nottinghamshire have yet to pick up a batting bonus point.
Not until Harry Gurney joined Read did he find any meaningful support. When Gurney, making his Nottinghamshire debut, came to the crease with the ninth wicket down, Read was on 58 and there were no thoughts of a century. Yet Gurney, showing fortitude that some of his top-order colleagues would do well to emulate, resisted for 36 balls to allow his captain to take the attack to the bowling. The pair added 56 for the tenth wicket - the highest partnership of the innings - with Read feasting on Somerset's support bowlers and showing excellent shot selection against the impressive Trego and Steve Kirby.
Read's heroics were somewhat overshadowed by an injury to Marcus Trescothick. The 36-year-old fell to the floor in pain when running after a ball in the field and was diagnosed with a recurrence of the ankle ligament injury that troubled him towards the end of the 2011 season. He was subsequently taken to hospital for scans, the results of which will be known on Saturday. While Trego thought Tresocthick would bat - "he's a tough old goat" was Trego's assessment - Brian Rose, Somerset's director of cricket, was more cautious in his assessment. It would be a major surprise if Trescothick was available next week.
Trescothick's injury also took some of the gloss off an excellent performance from Trego, the 30-year-old all-rounder, who had previously only taken one five-wicket haul in his first-class career - 6 for 59 on this same ground when playing for Middlesex in 2005 - but fully deserved his second with an excellent display of swing bowling. After left-hander Paul Franks was beaten by a fine one that swung back and trapped him prodding half forward, Ben Phillips was unfortunate enough to receive a beauty that pitched middle and leg and swung away to take the outside edge. It would have dismissed most batsmen.
Trego has had a busy winter. He not only played domestic cricket in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but also in the BPL, the Champions League and the Hong King Sixes.
But he is not the type to complain at a heavy workload. After a couple of years, 2003 and 2004, when his form and his reputation - possibly an unfair reputation - as something of a waster forced him out of the professional game, he is relishing every moment of his return. With bat, ball and in the field, he has finally developed into the cricketer his talent always suggested he could be.
"I was signed by Somerset when I was 15 and straight out of school," Trego said. "They give you your kit and your bats and you feel fantastic.
"But that was all taken away from me when I was 23. After that I had to scrap for a job and it made me realise how much the game meant to me. Once you have had to fight to get something back, you are much less likely to let it slip away again and I think the whole experience made me a better cricketer and a better person.
"Playing a lot of cricket suits my body. I'm physically stronger and, having bowled on docile pitches all winter, I am in the habit of putting the ball in the right place. I have a huge desire to play for England; it would make me the happiest man in the world. But I can't make that my focus. I am very happy helping Somerset win games of cricket."
Somerset's greatest foe in this game could yet be the weather. The rain that had so curtailed play on the first day returned to steal 40 overs on the second. While Somerset's batsmen demonstrated the patience and application that their hosts could not to set up a solid foundation, they will need more luck with the weather to take press home their dominance.
Arul Suppiah, timing the ball elegantly through the covers off front and back foot, was particularly impressive. He experienced only one nervous moment when, on 21, he edged the deserving Gurney just short of third slip. Samit Patel claimed the catch but, after the umpires conferred, Suppiah was given not out.
"Somerset's batsmen applied themselves well and some of ours were responsible for their own downfall," Read said. "It's always dangerous to play away from your body at Trent Bridge and our batsmen will have to ask themselves if they applied themselves correctly. Samit Patel may have to rein himself in a bit."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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