Somerset v Derbyshire, Taunton, 1st day September 3, 2013

Somerset collapse hands Derbs advantage

David Lloyd at Taunton

Derbyshire 220 for 5 (Johnson 55*, Poynton 53*, Chawla 4-87) lead Somerset 103 (Chawla 27, Groenewald 5-33, Palladino 4-34) by 117 runs

These are deeply worrying times for Somerset. They are in serious bother on the field after the first day of this relegation dogfight - and they could yet be in big trouble off it because of official concern over a dry pitch that turned and bounced significantly from the moment the home spinners set to work.

"It is being monitored," umpire David Millns confirmed, adding that ECB pitch inspector Bill Hughes had been in attendance throughout three spell-binding sessions. Presumably, Hughes wants to see more on Wednesday but even the hint of a points deduction will alarm home supporters.

Not that Somerset's followers are sitting anything like comfortably anyway after Derbyshire had deservedly earned a handy advantage through their diligent seamers and determined batsmen. If momentum means anything (and events here suggest that idea is overrated) then the hosts should have been on a high from the outset after their terrific win against Middlesex last week, while the visitors were surely downcast following a defeat by Surrey that dumped them to the foot of the table.

Forget all that, though. Revitalised by the return of leading pace bowler Tim Groenewald, who missed the Surrey match because of paternity leave, and strengthened further by the arguably overdue recall of Tony Palladino, Derbyshire's pacemen feasted on some all-too-familiar frailties in the Somerset batting department to claim nine wickets between them.

New dad Groenewald picked up his third five-for during another super-consistent season while Palladino - who has battled side and abdominal injuries this year but was then left out during the second half of August when fit - removed three of Somerset's top four in his 4 for 34.

From scoring 449 last week, Somerset were bundled out for barely 100 just after lunch. When Derbyshire then laboured to 127 for 5, and both Piyush Chawla and fellow spinner Jack Leach were causing big problems with turn and bounce, Somerset's total did not look quite so feeble. Richard Johnson and Tom Poynton broke free from the shackles, though, to earn their team an already significant advantage with a splendid unbeaten stand of 93 for the sixth wicket.

Marcus Trescothick has had a nightmare or two with the toss this summer, most obviously when he chose to bat first at Horsham and his team were bowled out for 76. But although this pitch is green-tinged for most of its length, there was no reason for the home captain not to take first use - especially as both ends are dry and made for spinners.

Trouble was, Somerset failed horribly to build the big first innings they had set their sights on. The new ball appeared to do next to nothing for eight overs. Then, as morning cloud rolled in, it did start to move around a little off the seam but, even so, there were too many gifts going Derbyshire's way.

Trescothick, edging a back of a length delivery to third slip, Nick Compton - nicking one that left him late - and Chris Jones, well taken low down by keeper Poynton, could be said to have been 'got out' to a greater or lesser extent. But, thereafter, good judgement was in short supply.

Craig Kieswetter inexplicably drove flamboyantly to mid-off, having just sliced a boundary and offered a sharp return catch off the previous two balls. Alex Barrow did not offer a shot of any kind to lose his off stump and James Hildreth went lbw, trying to work to leg when he should have been playing straight.

Despite those bloopers, and a couple more than soon followed, it would be wrong not to give Groenewald and Palladino - aided and abetted by Mark Footitt - huge credit for keeping foot firmly on throat. Their only tiny disappointment was in not limiting Somerset to two figures, but Chawla takes a bit of containing and Groenewald did the trick before much damage was done.

In what may yet be a low-scoring game, an opening stand of 52 between Ben Slater and Paul Borrington looks good from a Derbyshire perspective - and depressing for Somerset, given that Borrington offered a difficult, high chance to keeper Kieswetter before there was a run on the board.

It did not appear too costly, however, once Chawla began to make the ball turn and bounce - something both he and Leach did from the moment they were set loose. Whether the assistance they gained was excessive for the first afternoon of a Championship match, the officials must decide. But, in any event, Johnson and Poynton started to take matters into their own hands with increasingly aggressive innings.

Their fightback started, really, once Johnson hoisted Chawla for a straight six - a shot which put the ball out of the ground and meant that a replacement had to be summoned. From then on, the spinners seemed to lose their magic and both batsmen celebrated half-centuries before the close.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on September 4, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    @JG2704 Completely respect the differing opinions on Buttler/Kies - there are just certain players it would pain me to see playing for another county, and Jos is one. My point with the averages was that I think people assume Kies is the better batsman still (certainly red ball) and I'm not sure this is true. And Buttler won't be in the Test team anytime soon, so we'd still have him for good chunks of the season.

  • Martin on September 4, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    We absolutely must keep Buttler, even if that means Kieswetter moving on to another county. Buttler is more talented than Kieswetter and is the future of Somerset cricket for the next 15 years. We have an able reserve in Barrow to keep wicket if/when Buttler is away with England. Keep the Somerset boy at Somerset and let the South African move on to pastures new.

  • John on September 4, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    @OldAdam on (September 3, 2013, 18:59 GMT) Agreed , it's better than flat road pitches where the game can go on for 4 days without producing a result. It would be suspect if Somerset won the toss and put Derbyshire in and there was turn and bounce and then Somerset batted and the turn and bounce was gone , unless of course that was the plan and Tres got confused.

  • John on September 4, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    @siltbreeze on (September 4, 2013, 7:54 GMT) Agree and disagree. Agree that it is our batsmen as opposed to the bowlers who have let us down more this season in the CC. Tres and Hildreth have been the biggest culprits and Trego is doing nothing with the bat in this format but would be one of the first names I'd want in the side in shorter formats. Re Jos/Craig - I'm kind of on the Craig side of the debate I'm afraid.He's only averaging just under 3 less than Jos and if Jos had played yesterday and scored similar to the rest of the batsmen it would be closed further. Just a hunch , but I'm wondering if Jos now thinks he's an Eng player more than a Somerset player? The other thing is that if Jos keeps in with Eng , Eng will dictate to Somerset his rest periods etc and Craig would be available without limits

  • Samuel on September 4, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    In a bit of a state of shock after this to be honest. Thought maybe the Middlesex performance would be the launch pad we needed, but alas no. Now I know how all those Aussies felt back at Boxing Day in 2010 - this was very similar!

  • Martin on September 4, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    Reading about Kieswetter's dismissal reinforces my view that we should retain Buttler next season and let Kies go if we absolutely have to choose. Buttler's averaging more than him in the CC and YB40 and is such an exceptional talent I'd hate to see him leave. Barrow has shown he can be a useful back-up keeper as well.

  • Martin on September 4, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    @JG2704 Yes, Max Waller! Maybe we should play him as a batsman - clearly we won't play two leggies while Chawla is here. But really, our senior batsmen need to take responsibility - Tresco, Hildreth and Kieswetter in particular. The Middlesex win was all about Chawla and the youngsters and maybe it glossed over some of our problems.

  • clive on September 4, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    I think it was max Waller (!) who got a double ton for the 2nds. What a strange season for Somerset. can only hope that chasing one trophy (still in the YB40) will prove more successful than near misses in all three over recent years!

  • Nicholas on September 4, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    @JG2704 (post on September 3, 2013, 20:57 GMT): Don't think there was a double ton by anyone... Tom Abell got to his ton yesterday in the seconds. Strange year for Somerset; seem to be doing O.K. in the shorter formats at least.

  • John on September 4, 2013, 0:40 GMT

    Wow. Somerset have just been hopeless this year. It really amazes me that so many counties' fortunes seem to swing wildly from season to season. I guess it keeps things interesting because it's not just the usual suspects each year but it just goes to show that, with cricket probably more than any other sport, a slight change in form up or down for a few players can have a marked effect on the outcome.

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