Hussey's sparkle helps Notts edge day
Nottinghamshire 326 for 8 (Mullaney 75, Hussey 68, Dockrell 3-99) v Somerset
Marcus Trescothick demanded a "big performance" from his relegation-threatened team in the build-up to this match, and the home captain may still get one. For the moment, though, David Hussey's entertaining innings and some late order fireworks have put Nottinghamshire's noses in front.
Despite a short boundary on the Somerset Stand side of the ground, batting seldom looked like child's play - at least not until Ajmal Shahzad and Luke Fletcher added an unbeaten 57 for the ninth wicket without too much bother. Even then, a used pitch offered home spinner George Dockrell springy bounce and slow turn and seemed a bit two-paced for the quicker bowlers.
As is usually the case on days when neither side has gained an undeniably clear advantage, wise folk wait until both first innings have been completed before putting their penny on the end result. Without doubt, though, Hussey played a good hand just when the hosts were threatening to take command and was understandably cross with himself for drilling a return catch to Dockrell.
Having replaced Ed Cowan as Nottinghamshire's overseas player, Hussey is continuing where his countryman left off. Between them, the pair have reached 30 on ten occasions in 18 Championship innings this season without once going on to three figures. In fairness to Hussey, he is responsible for only five of those knocks but was still annoyed to fall short after reaching 68 from 87 balls with the help of a pulled six off Dockrell as well as 12 fours.
Until Hussey started to find the boundary, Steven Mullaney had made the most significant contribution. Promoted to opener earlier this campaign, he scored a century against Surrey last month and looked perfectly capable of adding another here until he was fourth out, for a well compiled 75.
It was that sort of day, really. Half a dozen players threatened to take the contest by the scruff of the neck but not one of them could quite manage to put their name up in lights. None of that was for lack of effort, mind you, and if the cricket lacked a stand-out performer then no spectator can have left the ground feeling short-changed in terms of enjoyment.
Jamie Overton, Somerset's highly regarded young paceman, struck twice during a good spell after lunch. The wicket of James Taylor, who had proved surplus to England's requirement at Old Trafford, was fortunate, admittedly - a leg-side 'strangle'. But he found a genuine edge to finish Mullaney's 159-ball stay.
Overton spoiled his work towards the end of the day with a wild and woolly spell, including an accidental high full toss at Hussey, and conceded 26 runs in just three overs before being taken off. And neither Peter Trego, who delivered an excellent spell with the first new ball, nor Dockrell, who picked up three wickets in all, could quite take charge of proceedings.
But if Somerset, and their supporters, were looking for the sort of gutsy, never give up performance that will be needed every day for the rest of the season if the side is to avoid relegation then Steve Kirby provided it.
How the fiery fast bowler walked off tonight without a wicket to his name is a mystery. He put his heart and soul into four spells, beat the edge on a good many occasions, failed with a couple of lbw appeals, saw Taylor all but play on and then watched in disbelief as Craig Meschede completely misjudged a potential catch, off Chris Read, at long leg.
Somerset did hold a couple of blinders with keeper Craig Kieswetter and second slip Trescothick accounting for Alex Hales and Michael Lumb respectively. But, overall, the hosts, with Kirby to the fore, were left wondering what might have been - especially once Shahzad and Fletcher had put a coat of gloss on Nottinghamshire's earlier graft.