Somerset v Durham, Taunton, 3rd day

Somerset thrive without weight of expectation

Tim Wigmore at Taunton

May 21, 2014

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Somerset 234 and 108 for 0 (Trescothick 58*) require a further 136 to beat Durham 155 and 326 (Richardson 116, C Overton 5-63)
Scorecard


Craig Overton took three wickets, Somerset v Yorkshire, County Championship Division One, Taunton, 2nd day, April 14, 2014
Craig Overton took five wickets in just his second Championship appearance of the season © Getty Images
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Expectation can be a burden. Following a testing 2013, Somerset, for once, had little of it before this season. Evidently that is suiting the club just fine. Tomorrow brings the promise of Somerset going second in the Championship. It has been a familiar finish in recent years, but now the circumstances feel very different.

There was no better indication of Somerset's quiet buoyancy than the ebullience with which Marcus Trescothick and Johann Myburgh approached a chase of 248 in the evening sunshine. With two golden ducks in his last three innings, Trescothick could have been forgiven for approaching the task with caution. Instead, he swatted the first ball through midwicket for four.

Trescothick remains an awesome sight, at moments such as these his game seeming designed around causing maximum damage with minimum foot movement. That his game remains in fine working order even in its 39th year was confirmed when Mark Wood, so outstanding in the first innings, entered the fray. A violent pull to long-on, a booming straight drive and a rasping cut provided three boundaries in one over. Over the wicket, or around the wicket? Wood zig-zagged between the two, but it made no difference to Trescothick in this mood.

In the circumstances it was easy to forget about Johann Myburgh - driving with power through the offside and playing the paddle sweep to great effect, he almost joined Trescothick in reaching a half-century by the close.

Somerset batted as if aware that the forecast for tomorrow is less encouraging than today's. By the close, the opening stand was worth 112 in 23 overs; so violent was the onslaught that, at one stage, it did not seem entirely facetious to ask whether Somerset would get into a position to request the extra half hour and so avoid any reliance on the weather tomorrow. The only moment of anxiety was when Myburgh offered Paul Collingwood a hard slip catch, diving to his left, when he had reached 40.

Lewis buoyed by Stokes return

  • Facing probable defeat at Taunton, providing the weather holds, Durham coach Jon Lewis could at least take cheer from the impending return of Ben Stokes.
  • While his team-mates faced a Marcus Trescothick onslaught, Stokes performed well in a pair of Twenty20 games for the second XI as he continues his comeback to an injury sustained punching a locker after his duck in an England T20 international in the West Indies in February.
  • "It's a maturity thing and Ben's hurting because of the cricket he's missed," Lewis said. "He's done incredibly well and deserves a lot of credit for the way he's gone through his rehab. It's been tough for him because it's been frustrating."
  • Lewis has been impressed with Stokes' batting form for the second team, which has included a half-century against Notts on Monday. "He's had six or seven hits now for the seconds and he's made contributions in almost all of them which is great."
  • But a return to full bowling fitness may still be a few weeks away. "He's off his full run now so that's encouraging," Lewis said. "When he's fully fit he probably does a third seamer role for us. Whereas I'd say he's more likely to do a fourth seamer's role first up."
  • It is hoped Stokes will be able to make his first-team return in Durham's Championship game at Trent Bridge on Sunday. "We'd like to get him back in the eleven put it that way," Lewis added. "When things aren't going brilliantly its great to have guys like him, he's very positive. He's all about winning - that's his mentality in everything he does."
  • Just as Stokes is set to return, Durham suffered an injury to another Test player, as Scott Borthwick sustained a flaked fracture on his middle finger. "It would be nice to finish a game with the same number of bowlers that we start a game with but that isn't happening at the moment," Lewis said. "He did well to bat today, but he was uncomfortable. Bowling is going to be a way off as well. We'll be hopeful that he can make the journey to Notts but I'd say we're hopeful rather than optimistic at this stage."
  • As for the match situation, Lewis admitted that Durham hoped to set Somerset at least another 50 runs. "I'm sure that they're aware that they haven't won the game yet."

From this juncture rain seems to pose a bigger challenge to Somerset's victory hunt than the Durham bowlers. Admirably as Chris Rushworth and Wood bowled to limit Somerset's first innings to 234, a repeat performance seemed to be asking for too much, especially with the sun effervescent.

Ordinarily Durham could entrust the new ball to Graham Onions: a back injury means that he is not available. In the fourth innings Scott Borthwick is often a potent weapon. Now, the state of his right-hand rather embodies Durham's season so far: he sustained a flaked fracture on his middle finger in this game, a fortnight after chipping a bone on his index finger, and was only able to bat at No. 11 in the second innings.

And when Durham need a spark it is often Ben Stokes who provides it. They would have envisaged him providing a flying start to their Championship defence before England duty took over, but a locker that felt his wrist's wrath during the West Indies tour ended such hopes. At least there is encouragement on this front: he came through back-to-back T20s for the second team and a Championship return at Trent Bridge on Sunday is hoped for.

Still, there was considerable cheer for Durham earlier in the day. While his father David was busy with the latest corruption scandal, Michael Richardson compiled his second Championship hundred of the season. Mark Stoneman almost joined him but, three balls after dispatching Craig Overton over square leg, he misjudged another bouncer attempting to reach his century with a repeat.

Craig is the less well known of the Overton twins, largely because his 2013 season was ruined by a stress fracture on his back. He bowls slower than Jamie, so is perhaps less intimidating to face. But Craig is also more accurate, and generated dangerous movement away from the right-handers. In docile batting conditions, it was an opportune time to take his first five-for in first-class cricket.

George Dockrell, playing his first Championship game of the season, was a worthy ally. As he got the ball to grip off the pitch while maintaining immaculate control - and adding a sharp catch off Collingwood to boot - it seemed remarkable that he was not yet 22.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (May 22, 2014, 9:00 GMT)

@Paul_Somerset - yes the catching was terrific from Somerset, especially that Trego effort, befitting a former football goalkeeper as you said! Kieswetter has also been impressive with the gloves.

Posted by   on (May 22, 2014, 8:57 GMT)

So, if Somerset win this game and go second we will be the only unbeaten team in the first division. I don't think anyone would have predicted that at the start of the season! Although i am still a little disapointed that we lost Butler from the perspective of him being a future player. However, the capture of Myburgh seems to be an astute piece of business. Not a player to build a team around for the next ten years, but a very handy batsman (and bowler!) who can aid the transition for a couple of years until a few of the young batsmen step up. What is good news is that as one young bowler goes down another is stepping up. First Meschede went down, with Gregory stepping intoi the breach, now Gregory has fallen C Overton has stepped up. Still got Dibble on the side lines and when Gregory and Meschede are back in business we will be able to rotate the bowlers around and keep them fresh. Also good to see young Dockrell get a bowl. The good times are here!

Posted by Paul_Somerset on (May 21, 2014, 21:38 GMT)

Both of Kieswetter's acrobatic catches deserve a mention, but they were eclipsed by Pete Trego's stunner to dismiss Chris Rushworth, who had been biffing the ball to great effect.

Rushworth had smashed Dockrell low and fast towards the midwickwet boundary for a certain six, but ex-goalkeeper Trego was standing on the ropes. He crouched, then hurled himself high to his left to snaffle the ball two-handed. A glorious sight.

Posted by Lymebayrobin on (May 21, 2014, 19:10 GMT)

An encouraging day for Somerset future and Somerset present(but soon to be past?) Fingers crossed on weather but 2 hours should be enough and it looks like that there will be enough of a gap between showers.

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