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Paul Edwards at Old Trafford
June 3, 2014
Lancashire 203 (Davies 62) and 95 for 3 trail Somerset 420 by 122 runs
When a batting side is in abject disarray, it is easy to overlook the excellence of their opponents. On the afternoon when Lancashire were forced to follow-on at Old Trafford for the first time in nearly a decade, there were more than a few home supporters ready to let loose their anger on batsmen who have collected seven bonus points in as many games this season.
Indeed, quite a few of those watching this game from the grand old pavilion probably regretted that the players now return to the plush new facility at the Statham End of the ground. No longer do Lancashire cricketers have to climb the famous steps and feel either the silent contempt or vehement disgust of members.
However, it is also a shame that relatively few West Country members were present to salute the performance of Marcus Trescothick's attack in this match. On a fine cricket wicket which has rewarded excellence in every major department of the game, Somerset's bowlers were quite outstanding. So uniformly disciplined and skilful were they that it was difficult to identify any individual as the leader of the pack; what shone out far more clearly was the glorious efficiency with which that pack hunted down and tore apart their often hapless prey.
The best figures were returned by Peter Trego, Craig Overton and George Dockrell, each of whom took three wickets as Lancashire were dismissed for 203 in their first innings, 217 shy of the total diligently accumulated by Somerset's in-form batsmen in the first four sessions of this game. Trego then followed his penetrative 16 overs in the first innings by removing the first three home batsmen second time around as Somerset pursued an innings victory.
To search for that goal in 33 overs before the end of the third day would have been deemed absurdly fanciful against any Division One batting side other than Lancashire; against Glen Chapple's men at the moment, it was worth a shot.
By the close of play both Paul Horton and Alex Davies had been trapped lbw on the front foot and Ashwell Prince had edged Trego to third slip where Alex Barrow took a fine catch. That left Lancashire on 43 for 3 and the only speck of comfort for home supporters was that Andrea Agathangelou and Karl Brown appeared to be finding some form as they added another 52 runs without alarm before stumps.
Nevertheless, the home side's best hope of avoiding an innings defeat, when batting second, for the first time since 2001 still seems to rest in the accuracy of the gloomy weather forecast.
The afternoon session was Somerset's best of the day. At lunch, Lancashire had added 118 runs to their overnight score for the loss of Prince, who played on for 45 when cramped for room by Overton, and Brown, who was lbw playing no shot to the accurate, thoughtful Dockrell. However, in barely 100 minutes of cricket Somerset took 6 for 58 to wreck any hopes the home side harboured of achieving parity.
Steven Croft, who had been tormented by Dockrell before lunch, was utterly flummoxed by the left-arm spinner's wiles and was stumped for 20; Davies, having resisted nobly in compiling 62, the second half-century of his first-class career, seemed to be caught in two minds and slapped Trego to the substitute fielder Jamie Overton at mid-on.
Chapple was trapped on the crease by a full length ball from Trego and Kyle Hogg edged Dockrell's arm ball to Trescothick at slip. The procession was in full swing when Overton returned to remove both Tom Smith and Kabir Ali.
This was excellent, aggressive cricket by Somerset and captain Trescothick must have been delighted with the way his bowlers responded to his quietly skilful management. By contrast, Lancashire's captain and coaches probably recognise that some players may be getting their last chances in County Championship matches for some time. Quite what can be done at this stage of the season if they pass up those opportunities is a question worth much pondering.
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