Struggling Somerset wait on Rehman
Somerset 188 for 9 (Meschede 59) trail Nottinghamshire 378 by 190 runs
Struggling Somerset are waiting to learn whether their plan to re-sign international spinner Abdur Rehman for the final few weeks of the season has been dashed by Pakistan's re-arranged tour of Zimbabwe.
Somerset's Championship batting currently leaves a lot to be desired, as was evident during today's grim top-order collapse between the showers. With relegation an all too real possibility, regardless of whether they scrape a draw from this contest, a boost, any boost, is needed - and Rehman's return to the County Ground would surely fit the bill.
The left-arm spinner captured 27 wickets at just 14 runs apiece when he played four Championship matches at the end of last season - and something similar this year might do wonders for the county's chances of avoiding the drop.
All appeared to be in place for Rehman's arrival well before Somerset's next four-day game - against Warwickshire, at Edgbaston, starting on August 20 - but now there is considerable uncertainty.
Pakistan have scheduled a month-long Test and limited-overs tour of Zimbabwe, from mid-August onwards, to replace a trip that was postponed last year. What they have not done so far is to announce their squad, or indicate whether it will be full strength or largely experimental.
"There should be an announcement in the next few days," Dave Nosworthy, Somerset's director of cricket, told the West Country's Sunday Independent newspaper. "If Abdur is not picked he will join us straight away because his visa has now been approved.
"If he is selected for the Zimbabwe tour he won't be coming, simple as that. But we have a Plan B in place should that happen. We can only wait and see what happens."
Rehman's short stay with Somerset last year ended up being remembered at least as much for a failed drugs test as his splendid bowling performances. He was found to have used cannabis when he was tested during a match against Nottinghamshire and served a 12-week worldwide ban.
Now 33, Rehman would be welcomed back with open arms, however. He apologised to all and sundry for his "error of judgement" and his contrition was accepted by Somerset.
The county, currently third from bottom, could certainly do with a lift, be it through runs or wickets. No side in Division One has achieved fewer batting bonus points than Somerset - and it was easy to see why today as they crumpled to 81 for 6 before mounting a mini-recovery led by Craig Meschede.
Nottinghamshire deserve plenty of credit for maintaining pressure throughout a start-stop day of four rain interruptions. And in Luke Fletcher they had a bowler who gnawed away non-stop at the hosts' fragile confidence by drilling a challenging line and length ball after ball.
But while Fletcher followed his splendid late-order half-century with some excellent seam bowling (he had figures of 3 for 7 from 11.2 overs at one stage and produced a spell of 3 for 1 in six overs), some of Somerset's shot selection was inexplicable.
Their problems began during the day's first over, although Chris Jones can be excused for having his off stump disturbed by an Andre Adams bail-trimmer.
Neither Nick Compton nor James Hildreth will want to watch too many replays of their dismissals, however. Compton may have been deceived by a slower ball from Fletcher but, either way, it was wide enough to leave alone and what was ultimately a one-handed shot sent a simple catch to cover.
As for Hildreth, a top-edged hook to long leg, against Adams, looked especially horrible given Somerset's already sticky position.
Craig Kieswetter soon fended fatally outside off stump, then Peter Trego edged a good one from Fletcher to give the paceman two wickets in as many balls. Neither of those wickets were gifts, but Jos Buttler's horribly miscued pull against Samit Patel certainly fell into the 'thanks very much' category.
At 122 for 7, the follow-on figure of 229 looked hopelessly distant. And when bad light finally ended play for the day, with 49 overs lost to the weather, it still looked out of reach at 188 for 9. But at least Meschede and George Dockrell, with whom he added 53, closed the gap while using up valuable time.
Meschede, who lifted Patel for two sixes during an 87-ball stay, was finally undone by an inside edge against Harry Gurney. But his third first-class half-century, and first this season, at least brought a little light to Somerset's proceedings.