Somerset happy to 'bully' India
Somerset believe they have played an important part in giving England a head start to the Test series against India after being able to "bully" the visitors for three days in Taunton. The Indians were never a threat in their lone warm-up match before Lord's as their bowling was twice taken apart and the batting folded for 224.
For most of the contest, once they had lost the toss on a flat pitch, the Indians didn't appear to have their heart in the game whereas the county side took it very seriously. They were determined to limit the value India could take from the outing, which is why they didn't enforce the follow-on. Then Peter Trego embarrassed them with a 57-ball 85, which left them looking well short of readiness for the first Test.
"I fully understand it's quite difficult for Test sides to get themselves up for these games, however it's about practising good habits," Andy Hurry, the Somerset coach, said. "They are going to come up against a stern test against a side challenging to be No. 1, so they'll have to lift their game. I'm sure they will, playing at the home of cricket, but it's been interesting - their approach and how that reflects in the way they performed.
"It was important that we gave it our best shot and really put them under the pump. We won the toss on a great batting pitch, dominated the game and started to bully them, which is a great position for England to sit back in their seats and appreciate what we have done for them.
"We had an opportunity to build scoreboard pressure, then got our rewards and bowled them out," he said. "They were looking for the follow-on but we weren't giving them that. It was an opportunity for us to go in again and reinforce our position before giving them a little dart at the end to try and bowl them out."
Andrew Strauss, preparing for the Test series with a guest appearance, made the most of his time with scores of 78 and an unbeaten 109 to ensure he enters the main contest in good spirits following his lean time against Sri Lanka earlier in the season. Hurry couldn't praise Strauss highly enough for his short spell with the team and the benefit it brought to the younger players.
"It's been a perfect three days for him," Hurry said. "We kept the Indians in the field for a number of overs. He looked really busy at the wicket and built his innings. He's been outstanding to have in the changing room. The boys have thrived on having him around. He's been a real good egg.
"It's had a huge positive effect on the younger players. Guys who have aspirations of playing for England now understand what the England captain is about. He has an aura about him. [As he] sat in the changing room, the guys were listening to everything he said about batting and the England set-up. It's been positive from all sides."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo