Somerset v Middlesex, Taunton, 1st day May 15, 2013

Overton outdoes the old 'uns

Middlesex 293 for 8 (Dexter 73*, Rogers 57, Overton 4-65) v Somerset

Somerset supporters concerned that their talented yet unfulfilled team is growing old together can take heart from days like this: the young 'uns are coming. Foremost among the new breed is Jamie Overton whose career-best 4 for 65 challenged Middlesex's visions of supremacy at the Tractor Ground.

It is not really the Tractor Ground, of course, but "County Ground" is always so unimaginative (its only saving grace is that it is not named after an airline) and it sounded like the Tractor Ground shortly after lunch when Tractor himself - arguably Somerset's most famous fan and ill-advisedly unprotected against the unseasonable chill - was on full revs, bellowing for all he was worth for Alfonso Thomas to slow Middlesex's progress.

Thomas failed, largely because Joe Denly, whose first 10 scoring shots were boundaries, reached 40 by a mixture of good fortune, easy pickings and a decent shot or two. But what the Great Alfonso could not deliver, the Young Pretender did, finding the outside edge to take three of the first four Middlesex wickets to fall. Toby Roland-Jones made up the foursome with two for grabs on the morrow.

The Middlesex wickets that matter are those of the openers, Sam Robson and Chris Rogers. Neither particularly catch the eye, but they have an adhesive quality which is at the heart of Middlesex's championship challenge and which makes up for a flaky middle order. Overton removed then both, at which point five more wickets tumbled for 66 in 18 overs before Neil Dexter summoned a necessary response with an unbeaten 73. Rogers's Australian late coming this summer might not set the Ashes alive but England will value his wicket as much as most. Like many squat batsmen he can look frustratingly immovable.

Overton, still only 19, and still routinely confused by all but the most committed Somerset observer with his equally promising twin brother, Craig, bowled at a fair lick in his 21 overs. The first thing that strikes you about him is his robust appearance for one so young; he may need it at Taunton which is not exactly a fast bowler's dream. Somerset's skipper Marcus Trescothick put Middlesex in on a green pitch, but Rogers and Robson dealt with what limited threat there was. . Somerset recovered in the afternoon session with three wickets in as many overs. Rogers, who had not been as solid as his young fellow Australian, Robson, nicked Overton to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. The next over saw the left-arm spinner Jack Leach bowl Denly shouldering arms and then Overton struck again when Dawid Malan was snapped up by Trescothick in the slips off Overton.

Leach, like Overton a promise of good things to come, bowled with good control and finished the day with three wickets as James Hildreth snapped up John Simpson at short-leg off Leach and Gareth Berg swept a catch to Peter Trego at mid wicket.

"Nailed on draw and you don't get many points for a draw," muttered one Somerset sage soon after lunch as Middlesex prospered. He will doubtless return with a more optimistic slant on things for the second day. At Taunton, 293 for 8 at the end of the first day suggests that stalemate should be avoided and it is Somerset who have the edge.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Simon on May 16, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    I believe Jamie is the quicker out of the twins. And looks to have good control as well. Not a lot of point playing Craig as just another seamer with our other three bowlers as variety is important in any attack. Given our ground, and whilst we do have the odd young batsman coming through plus batsman can play well into their 30's I dont think we have a huge age problem. And if we have to get in the odd replacement batsman from other counties - something we dont really condone - then batsman are much more inclined to come here than bowlers. The future looks rosy. Would just like to see Tresco lift one.

  • Samuel on May 16, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    After them being 150-1 I'd have taken 293-8, but after winning the toss and inserting and having them 222-7, I still feel it's another opportunity missed. We've let the tail add too many runs so far - it cost us the game against Durham, and we struggled to kill off Warwickshire, let Yorkshire slip from 70-4 and now possibly here as well. I'd expect this pitch to get better for batting as it goes along considering it's started green so it's not a bad position to have a side in, but it's just beginning to frustrate me a little. Well, I say a little, I mean a lot!

  • John on May 16, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    After the start Middx made I suppose it's not too bad a day for Somerset.

    Re the Overton's - I thought Craig was supposed to be the one who was most likely to go on as it was he who played for one of the Eng fringe sides but Jamie seems to be the man they go to more at the moment. Not sure what a good score is until both teams have batted but I think currently Somerset rely on their top 5 batsmen more than any other county.

  • Mark on May 15, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    This is an interesting one. Somerset probably only need one win to kick-start their season, but their problem is more one of not having enough between the old pros and the promising youngsters to mount a competitive side capable of challenging for the title. I had them marked as a side that could struggle if it had a slow start, but that would be just about good enough to survive, even so. That opinion has not changed.

    Middlesex are just showing signs of their momentum slowing after the best possible start. Today they showed the problems that have been endemic in them for years with a powerful 158-1 becoming a decidedly dodgy 222-7. Robson and Rogers are giving the side good starts (what when happen when Rogers leaves?) but the middle order is not always capable of following up. Malan's form is becoming a worry. Dexter's struggles are well chronicled. Simpson bats at 6, but barely averages 30. Berg is a fading star. 300 would be disappointing with 6 batsmen getting starts.

  • Dummy4 on May 15, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    Despite what a lot of Somerset fans would have you beleive, we actually have a really exciting group of young bowlers who are good enough for the Championship and will onlt get batter by playing more. Time t phase Kirby out and give Overton the new ball at the start of the game. Bring in Dibble/Meschade/or the over Overton instead of Kirby to strenghten the bowling. In a few years time we will have Meschade at 6, Gregory 7, C Overton 8, Dibble 9, J Overton 10 and Dockrell 11. A couple of young batsmen added to that bowling attack will see us good for a generation. Come on Somersert!

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