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Alex Winter at Taunton
May 4, 2014
Nottinghamshire 382 for 5 (Patel 116*, Read 95*, Gregory 3-65) vs Somerset
Somerset have laid their latest plans in their quest to join the leading counties of England with phase four of a ground redevelopment which was approved by their general committee last week. Their renewed ambitions on the field lie in phase one and rely on a talented crop of young players who, it is hoped, will improve the club's position after a 2013 of struggle.
Two of their green bowlers, Lewis Gregory and Jamie Overton, were on display on the opening day against Nottinghamshire but they were part of an attack who failed to seize two moments of opportunity and let the day slip away as Samit Patel made his first century of the season and Chris Read his best score for over a year.
Patel has a swagger about his batting and his greedy seeking of the bowling saw Somerset rightly chirpy with Notts at a precarious 194 for 5. But Patel's flashing stroke-making, chiefly on the drive, including a peach over the bowler's head as Alfonso Thomas took the second new ball, defied any nervousness about the score. Feasting on anything short, of which there was far too much, he went past fifty in 72 balls after tea and only 57 balls later he was arms aloft for his three figures.
"England's not in my mind," he said, a man perhaps spurned once too often to feel confident about a return. "I'll score runs and see where that takes me."
Patel said he was surprised to see Somerset choose to bowl first as they chased leather after tea. Patel was joined for the evening session by his captain and fellow little dasher Chris Read and the pair pulled the day Notts' way with 182 runs in 32 overs. It was immensely entertaining for a good crowd in the Taunton sunshine.
Read was the fourth batsman to pass fifty and the quickest of the quartet in 66 balls, in an innings that would have delighted him after a dreadful 2013 where he best effort was only 58. He has shown glimpses of form in the first three matches but this was the significant score that suggests Read has not slipped into decline at 35.
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He chose a good time to rediscover his touch. When he came in, Somerset's decision to bowl first was threatening reward. Gregory broke the partnership between Phil Jaques and James Taylor and Notts lost 3 for 37 to slip into trouble. But for the second time in the day, Somerset lacked a cutting edge and went on to close the day under pressure.
Somerset had begun well with the new ball. Gregory, 21, was billed as a batsman who bowls from his youth cricket, but has been one of the leading wicket-takers in the early rounds of the Championship. Following eight wickets at Durham and nine at Hove, he took three more here. He showed good control in an eight-over opening spell that cost 23 and the ability to move the ball was best demonstrated when he brought one back into Michael Lumb to take an inside edge which looped up off Lumb's pad to third slip.
It was the second breakthrough of the first 45 minutes after Thomas has wobbled one into the leg stump of Steven Mullaney. But with a chance to repay Marcus Trescothick's faith in his attack by choosing to bowl first, Overton led the way in letting Notts ease into the day.
Blessed with genuine pace, Overton is already being primed for international cricket but here chose the wrong form of aggression in his opening spell. Far too short, he leaked 23 in his opening five overs as Notts escaped to lunch at 101 for 2.
Brought back after the break - and following Gregory's breakthrough when Phil Jaques was caught on the crease and caught at first slip - Overton perked up and hurried Rikki Wessels once too often and he edged behind. He later bowled a mean short spell to Patel and Read - including coming around the wicket - but the short-pitched attack was overdone and became rather narrow-minded bowling against two of the most experienced players in the county game. Read especially sat back and picked him off on the pull stroke.
Overton went at above five an over but Craig Kieswetter was quick to point out that his job is to bowl quickly and try to unsettle batsmen and people need to accept that short bowling and expensive spells may result.
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