Taylor's £45 touch sinks Somerset veterans
Nottinghamshire 391 for 6 (Taylor 152, Lumb 73, Thomas 4-61) v Somerset
For much of the afternoon at Taunton, Lewis Gregory, Somerset's highly rated 23-year-old seam bowler, cut a bemused figure in the Twenty20 dug-out at midwicket. Out in the middle, his elders and - in the opinion of his coach, Matthew Maynard - betters, were chugging through the motions on a track so placid it might as well have been a cliché.
It was No County for Old Men at the County Ground. Alfonso Thomas, in his 39th year, was the pick of a toiling attack with 4 for 57, three of which came after Nottinghamshire, powered by a brilliant, chanceless 152 from Brendan Taylor, had rocketed past 300; Tim Groenewald, the youngest of Somerset's six bowlers at the age of 31, was flogged for 84 runs in 18 overs.
Gregory claimed he no idea why he was not playing in this fixture. Maynard later confirmed he was paying the price for a profligate display up at Durham last week, where did admittedly leak runs in bowler-friendly conditions.
"You can only learn from playing," Maynard said, somewhat confusingly, "but also you need to take time out to reflect on what you have to do to put it right for the next time."
While Gregory reflected, so too did his 21-year-old team-mate Jamie Overton, both of whom looked considerably sharper than any of Somerset's preferred options while being put through their paces in a lunchtime net on the outfield.
Jamie's motivation for putting in the sort of performance that Somerset so desperately need would presumably have been at an all-time high this week, seeing as his twin brother, rival, and greatest source of inspiration, Craig, has just been called up to the England squad. Instead, he is being sent to play for the seconds in two Twenty20 games this week, because Maynard feels his team is no position to gamble on such youthful impetuosity.
"That's what we did up at Durham and it cost us," he said. "We didn't have that experience to control the game when it was needed. There will be plenty of opportunities for all the youngsters but I am still trying to find out what my best five seam bowlers are, and that's developing more and more which is great."
Somerset's best moment of the day was, in fairness to their veterans' policy, produced by the most senior professional on parade - and it brought to an end the day's outstanding innings. Taylor had just crashed his 20th four of the day to reach his 150 from 199 balls when Marcus Trescothick, 40 this Christmas, pulled off an outstanding one-handed pluck at a solitary wide slip, low to his left and fractionally behind him, to cling onto Taylor's first false stroke of the day.
According to some reports, Taylor had been earning 30p a run before, at the age of 29, ending his brilliant but all-too-brief career as Zimbabwe captain on a high note at the World Cup. That'll be an invoice for £45.60 waiting in Lisa Pursehouse's in-box on Monday morning then.
It was a brilliant display from a batsman in the prime of his form. He added 82 for the first wicket with Steven Mullaney, who set the early tempo with 42 from 60 balls and was visibly aghast to be bowled neck and crop by Abdur Rehman as he reached forward but down the wrong line. It was clear from the ease of the wicket and the pace of the outfield that he had foregone the chance for a monster.
Frighteningly for Somerset, they weren't even up against a full-strength Nottinghamshire team. What Alex Hales would have made of the chance to bat first on this track and against this attack can only be the stuff of speculation, and if he hadn't come off, then James Taylor surely would.
Instead, after Greg Smith had come and gone cheaply, shouldering arms to Thomas for 11, it was left to Michael Lumb to provide Taylor with company, as he marked his first red-ball innings since last September with 73 from 133 balls, including 12 fours and sharing in a third-wicket stand of 155 that, for as long as it lasted, looked certain to take Nottinghamshire closer to 450 than 400.
Thomas can take the credit for reining them in - he was even on a hat-trick when Samit Patel fell lbw first ball - but little else went Somerset's way on a sobering day. A generation that, for five almost-glorious years, could justifiably claim to be the second-best team in the country are now, simply, second-best. Now, what about that youth policy?
Andrew Miller is a former editor of the Cricketer. @miller_cricket