Somerset v Lancashire, Taunton, 2nd day

Trescothick setback casts cloud over Somerset

George Dobell at Taunton

April 27, 2012

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Lancashire 395 for 9 (Croft 113, Prince 96) v Somerset


Saj Mahmood is bowled by Vernon Philander, County Championship, Division One, Taunton, 2nd day, April 26, 2012
Vernon Philander was one of the Somerset bowlers to find his length on day two © Getty Images
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On the face of things, this was a decent - if brief - day for Somerset. Showing they had learned the lessons of a disappointing first day, their seamers maintained a much tighter line and length and reaped immediate rewards. In the 21 overs possible before rain arrived, Lancashire lost five wickets for the addition of just 32 runs. Somerset, therefore, claimed full bowling bonus points, while Lancashire may yet be denied their fifth batting point.

Scratch beneath the surface, however, and this was a grim day for Somerset. Most seriously, it has become apparent that Marcus Trescothick's injury is worse than feared. Trescothick underwent surgery on the tendon in his right ankle on Thursday but, during the procedure, the surgeon discovered the tendon was not torn but ruptured. As a consequence, he is now expected to miss at least two months of the season. The mouth watering prospect of Trescothick and Chris Gayle opening together in T20 cricket at Taunton may well never come to fruition.

Indeed it is becoming increasingly likely that neither man will be available. Brian Rose, Somerset's director of cricket, spoke to Gayle on Friday with the pair agreeing to talk again after the West Indies announced their squad to tour England. As things stand, Gayle remains unclear of his inclusion in the touring squad and will speak to Rose again within the next few days. Bearing in mind the fragility of the West Indies' batting, it would be odd if they felt they could do without Gayle.

There are, at least, some intriguing names that could be available for Somerset to bring in on loan. Durham's Liam Plunkett, struggling for form and languishing in second-XI cricket, is one experienced bowler who might benefit from a change of scenery, while his team-mate Steve Harmison is a less likely possibility. Naqaash Tahir, now with Lancashire, and Oliver Hannon-Dalby, of Yorkshire, are potential targets, too, while Kabir Ali of Hampshire is another. Whether Division One sides are persuaded to help Somerset is one issue; whether Somerset are interested in bowlers unable to win a place in Division Two sides is another. Either way, Somerset will not make a decision until assessing the fitness of all their bowlers in the days following this match.

Somerset's better bowling display on the second day here could be interpreted in different ways. While the bonus points were welcome, they may also reflect that Lancashire's struggles provided a better indication of the true nature of this pitch. Had the hosts bowled better on the first day, Lancashire may have struggled to reach 300. Instead, the damage is done and Lancashire have already established a match-defining total. Somerset may yet be grateful for Sunday's anticipated deluge.

Amid the storms - literal and metaphorical - Craig Kieswetter enjoyed an accomplished performance in front of England selector, James Whitiker. Kieswetter remains very much a work in progress with the gloves, but he does inconsistently show an ability to cling on to very difficult chances. Here he claimed three in ten deliveries - two of them low, diving efforts in front of his slips - that would have made any keeper proud. Perhaps, for some, that will make his run of the mill blemishes - and there are still too many for a professional keeper - all the more infuriating, but it does suggest great potential.

Vernon Philander, in particular, hit a perfect length and, with some balls nipping away and others going straight, soon spread confusion amid the Lancashire batting. Gareth Cross was the first to prod at one leaving him, before Luke Procter and Steven Croft followed suit. Glen Chapple's counterattack was ended when George Dockrell found the edge of his bat with some turn and James Hildreth, at slip, pulled off another sharp catch.

Such wickets must have inspired mixed feelings. While Somerset would celebrate the successful bowling, the fear remains that Lancashire, with the likes of Chapple and Simon Kerrigan in their line-up, have an attack that will not require a second invite to exploit these conditions.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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