Somerset v Lancashire, Taunton, 3rd day July 1, 2014

Overton painfully short in classy display

Lancashire 266 and 59 for 0 trail Somerset 484 (Trescothick 128, C Overton 99, Petersen 73, Kerrigan 4-168) by 159 runs
Scorecard

The shot may give Craig Overton nightmares for a week or two. But if the dream of scoring his maiden Championship century turned to dust in horribly cruel fashion then the 20-year-old would be well advised - once the disappointment burns a little less fiercely - to concentrate on just how well he played.

First, the tough bit: with 99 to his name and having pushed a single earlier in the over, Overton was undone by a rush of blood brought about by his own inexperience and Lancashire's perfectly understandable attempt to exert a bit of pressure.

The field came in, spinner Simon Kerrigan went around the wicket and - probably as much to the visitors' surprise as the batsman's eventual horror - Somerset's No. 8 responded with a big, wild drive. The ball might have gone anywhere but ended up, via an outside edge, in the left hand of Paul Horton as the slip fielder held an excellent catch.

It is not often that the supporters of both teams express sympathy for a player but even Lancastrians in the crowd, who had seen their team take more than enough punishment, looked as though they would have given the youngster just one more run.

Instead, Overton - visibly upset with gloved hand to face - had to drag himself off the field at the end of a 135-ball innings. And his head was probably still in his hand two balls later when No. 11 George Dockrell succeeded in doing what his team-mate had attempted by driving Kerrigan for six.

Tough judges would point out that Overton should have been out for 5 when Horton spilled a much easier slip chance off the bowling of Wayne White. And they could add that he also offered a difficult return catch to Kyle Hogg when 62. But to major on those misses would be to downplay the all-round excellence of an innings that turned a position of mild promise into one of real power.

The hosts were only 22 ahead, at 288 for 6, when Overton joined Peter Trego, who was out just two runs later. But then, on a pitch where most batsmen have struggled with their timing and a heavy majority of them have failed to prosper, runs began to flow at a rate that was deeply alarming from a Lancashire perspective.

Overton's power is obvious. Like twin brother Jamie, he is a big lad - and 6ft 6ins tall with it - and having lifted Kerrigan for one six into the Sir Ian Botham stand he followed up, two balls later, by clearing the Marcus Trescothick stand at wide long-on. But his timing was terrific too with several of his nine fours being eased through the covers or past mid-wicket.

Somerset have known for quite some time that they have two real talents in the Overtons but even they must have been pleasantly surprised to see Craig, with superb support from No. 10 Alfonso Thomas, add 140 - a ninth-wicket record in matches between these two counties.

Four weeks ago, Overton scored 86 at Taunton to help set up a victory over Sussex. This time, he went closer still to three figures, but the end result could yet be the same.

Certainly, Lancashire will do well to battle it out for a draw tomorrow. They looked close to despair in the field as the big partnership grew and grew, and while Kerrigan eventually finished with four wickets his opposite number, Dockrell, will hope to exert more consistent pressure on the final day.

This has been a terrific game to watch for three days and it deserves a good finish. Whether we get one remains to be seen but there was no shortage of feeling, or words, when Lancashire started their second innings with a minimum 113 overs of the contest remaining.

Openers Horton and Alex Davies received, and gave back, plenty of verbals. Both sides seemed happier to concentrate on the cricket, however, after Horton was forced to retire hurt at the end of the third over after ducking into a short ball from Thomas that struck him on the side of the helmet. Thereafter Davies and Usman Khawaja stood firm to raise Red Rose spirits.

David Lloyd is a former chief cricket correspondent of PA and the Evening Standard

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