Lancashire v Somerset, Old Trafford, 1st day May 4, 2010

Sutton holds Lancashire together

Jon Culley at Old Trafford

Lancashire 292 v Somerset 14 for 1
Scorecard

Luke Sutton's first century in the Championship since August 2007 rewarded Lancashire for their gamble of opening the innings with their wicketkeeper here, the 33-year-old gloveman holding together an otherwise fragile batting performance from Glen Chapple's side, who missed out by eight runs on a third batting point but emerged from the opening day in better shape than had looked likely at certain times.

Somerset-born and a former player at Taunton, Sutton has been out of form with the bat for some time and given that much less allowance is made these days for wicketkeepers who do not back up their glovework with runs there has been pressure to give the talented Gareth Cross a run in the four-day side.

Sutton had not even registered a first-class fifty in almost two years and it was a surprise to Lancashire members when he was preferred to Paul Horton, already tried and tested in the role, as Stephen Moore's partner when Tom Smith was laid low with a hamstring injury.

But the doubters had to admit the move had been a success after Sutton frustrated his former county with a measured and stylish 118 spanning more than five hours.

Powerful through the off side, where he propelled many a well-timed drive among his 18 boundaries, Sutton had one life when he was 85, dropped by James Hildreth at second slip during a productive spell by the lively Alfonso Thomas, but was otherwise in command until, attempting to flick Zander de Bruyn away off his hips, he was impressively caught down the leg side by his Somerset counterpart, Jos Buttler.

It was just as well for Lancashire, chasing a third win from four matches after being thwarted by the weather against Kent last week, that Sutton chose this moment to find his touch. Although Mark Chilton provided support with a solid 41, it was not until Saj Mahmood, who made 52 against Warwickshire a couple of weeks ago, stepped up with another demonstration of his prowess with the bat that Lancashire's total began to look a reasonable reward for electing to bat first.

Mahmood struck nine fours and a six, lofted over long on off legspinner Michael Munday, in a 76-ball 64, in an eighth-wicket partnership worth 108.

Earlier, the balance had looked to be swinging Somerset's way on two occasions. Lancashire were in difficulties inside the first dozen overs as Australian allrounder Damien Wright took 3 for 20 from nine overs with the new ball as the home side slid to 27 for 3.

Wright dismissed Stephen Moore and Paul Horton with balls that found the edge before a fuller, straighter ball trapped Ashwell Prince in front.

Sutton and Chilton, solidly diligent, put on 104 in 38 overs but Chilton's departure, leg before when a ball from Thomas clipped his pad on its way through to Buttler, sparked a mid-innings collapse from 131 for 3 to 175 for 7.

This time Thomas did the damage. Steven Croft, who hooked his first ball against the bowler for six, perished with an identical shot before Kyle Hogg drove at an angled delivery to be caught behind. Then Chapple was run out attempting a suicidal single to mid-on.

Yet Sutton, that one let-off apart, came through unscathed and with Mahmood's boldly assertive help pushed the scorecard towards respectability. Wright, who ended with deserving figures of 5 for 41, returned to bowl Mahmood and have Daren Powell caught on the square leg boundary.

Worryingly for Lancashire, Mahmood left the field after one over of Somerset's reply, apparently injured while batting, although Lancashire are confident he will bowl on day two. But the day ended brightly for his team when opener Arul Suppiah was bowled by Kyle Hogg, playing on to a ball he tried to leave.

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