Somerset v Derbyshire, Taunton, 2nd day September 4, 2013

Hildreth helps bring double relief for Somerset

David Lloyd at Taunton

Somerset 103 and 231 for 4 (Hildreth 81, Compton 64*) lead Derbyshire 298 (Johnson 68, Poynton 57, Chawla 5-111) by 36 runs

There was relief and hope for Somerset: relief that their pitch had been given the all-clear following several sessions of close scrutiny, and some hope - despite the galling last ball of the day dismissal of Craig Kieswetter - of a vital backs-to-the-wall victory in this relegation nerve-tingler.

ECB pitch inspector Bill Hughes was among those present yesterday when the ball turned and bounced significantly from the outset, for home spinners Piyush Chawla and Jack Leach. At the close of play, umpire David Millns confirmed the surface was being "monitored".

Today, Hughes settled down behind the bowler's arm, alongside groundsman Simon Lee, and announced during the lunch interval that his work was not yet done. But by tea, he declared himself satisfied; meaning any threat of a points penalty had been removed.

Of even more importance for Somerset - and potentially more damaging for Derbyshire - the balance of power had started to shift out in the middle. A daunting first innings deficit of 195 was eaten into by Marcus Trescothick's sixth half-century of this, so far, hundred-less season and then wiped away completely through the combined efforts of Nick Compton and James Hildreth.

By stumps, the hosts were ahead, by 36. And if only Kieswetter had defended Shiv Chanderpaul's final delivery instead of trying to cut the now extremely occasional legspinner, they would have had seven wickets in hand. The ball cannoned into the stumps via a bottom edge and Derbyshire celebrated an unexpected and badly needed late gift.

But even now, the visitors can anticipate a testing fourth innings run-chase, thanks in no small part to a stand of 116 between Compton and Hildreth.

Trescothick, dropped on 35 by second slip Richard Johnson off Tim Groenewald, was unable to benefit fully from his slice of luck. And Hildreth, having looked all at sea early on against the spinners, prospered splendidly yet still failed, by 19 runs, to turn what was only his third Championship fifty of the campaign into a second hundred - under-edging an attempted pull into his stumps. But Compton remained reassuringly rock-solid throughout.

The, for now at least, former-England batsman dropped down to No. 3 so he could have treatment on a stiff neck. But once in the middle he looked happy enough, negotiating 151 deliveries while accumulating 64 unbeaten runs. No wonder Derbyshire were looking hot and bothered before Kieswetter played into their hands.

Last year's Division Two champions were recently penalised for a pitch producing excessive turn during a YB40 match and at least some in their camp will believe they saw enough evidence on the first day here for Somerset to have been convicted of a similar charge.

The problem, in more ways than one, for the visitors is that their spinners were unable to extract as much turn and bounce as Chawla and Leach - at least not on anything like a regular basis.

They had chosen to leave out 19-year-old offspinner Peter Burgoyne, who has played in the last four games, while left-armer David Wainwright started this match with a season record of 13 wickets at 55 runs apiece. He posed some problems, inevitably, but no more than occasional tweaker Wayne Madsen. It was more in hope than expectation, then, that Chanderpaul was called upon, but what a good decision.

Derbyshire had added 78 for 5 this morning which was both a fair bit better than seemed likely at 256 for 9 but ultimately just a tad disappointing when they were all out, following a last wicket stand of 42 between Tim Groenewald and Mark Footitt, with a third batting point only two runs away.

Alfonso Thomas did most of the damage with the ball, taking 3 for 19 in six overs with the help of two outside edges and a bad misjudgement from Palladino, who padded up to an in-ducker.

Derbyshire might have expected to face another trial by spin. Instead, Trescothick ignored left-armer Leach completely and kept Chawla's powder dry until 55 minutes into the session. When the little Indian leggie did appear, his sixth delivery - one that hurried through - easily defeated Johnson's ill-advised attempted pull.

Johnson deserved a career-best but had to settle for 68, four short of that landmark. Still, his earlier partnership of 103 with Tim Poynton had gone a long way towards putting the visitors into a position of strength - and it did not go unnoticed by Somerset supporters that the stand was worth precisely what the hosts could muster, in total, in their first innings.

That should have been just about it. Instead, the last pair made merry (when they weren't playing at fresh air during Chawla's five-over spell) and Groenewald's almost-straight six off the legspinner was a treat to behold. In the end, with 300 beckoning, confidence got the better of Footitt and a sliced drive against Craig Meschede brought the curtain down.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on September 5, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    @JG2704 - I'm making no comment on Craig's dismissal! Completely agree that our batsmen need to convert more - seems that Compton is the only one who can really apply himself. We could do with Gregory and Meschede showing they can bat (though god knows what Gregory was ever doing at 4).

    @Paul_Somerset - Agree about Derbyshire; I saw them at the Oval last week and they do look a spirited team. And Footitt can be seriously quick.

  • John on September 5, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    actually 231-4 does not look so bad on paper , but what does look bad is that (with the exception of Nick and Chawla whose ave was inflated by a one off knock) the rest of the Somerset middle/lower orderhave by and large been poor. We need Gregory to show that he can bat - Somerset once batted him at 4 - and Mechede to show he can bat in the longer form of the game and the Fonz and Chawla to repeat the Middx heroics

  • John on September 4, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    I suppose Somerset are in a better position than they were this time yesterday - but that says more about yesterday's position. Firstly the Derby last pair put on more that we'd have liked.We've not collapsed like we did in the 1st inns but we are effectively 36-4 so we need some runs from the fragile middle order to set any sort of total so Derbyshire are still in the box seat. I was debating about the Jos/Craig situation with a fellow fan yesterday. I was saying Somerset should keep Craig if push came to shove but his dismissal to Shiv (I didn't even realise Shiv bowled) maybe shows flaws in my argument. Also very frustrating that guys like Tres and Hildreth aren't converting starts into big 100s which I believe has been one of our big downfalls this season. Tres has not scored a ton - can anyone have foreseen the possibility of Tres not scoring a ton all season? - and Hildreth seems to get into double figures nearly every time he plays but rarely goes on to even get 50

  • Paul on September 4, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    Utterly compelling day of intense cricket, played in front of about 1,500 sundrenched spectators. This is what you get when you play for high stakes in the one competition that really, really matters - County Ch'ship Div. 1.

    As a Somerset supporter, I obviously want us to avoid defeat, but I'd hate to see Derbyshire go down. There's real skill and spirit in that squad. Mark Footitt, for instance, would definitely benefit from another, full season in Div. 1. Very fast and left-arm to boot.

    Good to see Compton and Hildreth abandoning their usual tactic of sweeping the spinners, which would have been disastrous with the bounce on offer. Instead Hildreth seemed to favour almost pulling off the back foot, which worked excellently until it didn't. And it was a treat not to have to watch Compton attempting his favourite reverse sweep straight to a fielder.

  • Duncan on September 4, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    Better, but it still sums up Somerset this season. Tres gets out to Madsen (who has 9 first cass wickects!) then Keis gets out to Chanderpaul.. At least they have a stronger tail with Chawla in there. Still a chance of getting a lead of 200, but I think they'll need more.

  • No featured comments at the moment.