Somerset v New Zealand XI, Tour match, Taunton, 2nd day May 8, 2015

Wheeler takes to England in style

New Zealanders 237 and 149 for 3 (Santner 70*, Latham 57) lead Somerset 204 (Trego 40, Wheeler 5-18) by 182 runs
Scorecard

Play 01:18
Ben Wheeler fell in love with English conditions at the first attempt

Ben Wheeler is in the UK for the first time. He is only here because New Zealand have six of their Test squad at the IPL and needed fit bodies to fulfil this match. But he seized his chance to impress the selectors on his New Zealand debut with 11 fine overs in Somerset's first innings that conceded just 18 and returned five wickets.

Wheeler's striking intervention on English soil helped the tourists take control of the match as far easier conditions in their second innings helped them build a lead of 182 with half-centuries from Mitchell Santner and Tom Latham.

New Zealand are not short of left-arm seamers and might have another useful prospect in 23-year-old Wheeler. He was unerringly accurate, rattling off four straight maidens having taken the new ball and ripped out the Somerset top order to give the tourists a chance of a healthy first-innings lead despite their own modest total. But the rest of the New Zealand attack could not match Wheeler for consistency and the Somerset lower order rallied to get within 34.

Wheeler's first seven over spell was superb, probing away around off stump and finding some movement back into the right-hander. He struck with his fifth ball, having Johann Myburgh lbw and two overs later defeated Tom Cooper's expansive off drive and took out his middle and off stumps for a nine-ball duck. Two more wickets followed in the final two overs of his spell - bowling James Hildreth, trying to leave, and having Jim Allenby caught in the cordon; at that stage he had 4 for 6.

When Josh Davey was cleaned up in his second spell after lunch, Wheeler completed a third five-wicket haul in this, his 29th first-class match. His first-class record coming into this match, 86 wickets at 27.81 from 28 matches, is encouraging. He was the pick of the attack here and certainly performed better than two bowlers who would hope to be picked in the first Test: Doug Bracewell - a little too short and conceding four boundaries in his first over - and Neil Wagner. Both leaked more than five runs per over.

Plenty of those runs were made by Peter Trego, the stand-in Somerset captain, who struck nine boundaries, the best of which a flowing extra-cover drive off Wagner, to improve the locals' mood after the latest slippery batting display.

Somerset have lost all three of their opening County Championship matches and were bowled out cheaply both in their first game at home to Durham and away to Worcestershire last week. Their batting order is a serious concern.

There were further failures for both batsman who have opened with Marcus Trescothick this season. Myburgh has more leeway after a century against Durham but has since made 9, 11, 6 and made just 3 here.

Tom Abell, 21, deputised for Myburgh during the Middlesex match while Myburgh's wife gave birth. He added 1 to 16 and 13 against Middlesex. Tom Cooper and Jim Allenby were winter signings and are both yet to register a Championship half-century. Here they made a duck and 28 respectively.

It was left to Trego to lead the recovery from 54 for 5. He shared a half-century stand with Alex Barrow - another Somerset player under pressure after a poor start to the season. This match might have offered the chance to give some experience to James Regan, Somerset's 20-year-old reserve wicketkeeper who has played just one first-class match, but Barrow needs to find form with a top score of just 28 this season. He managed 32 here but fell lbw to Mark Craig's offspin; a disappointing dismissal.

Trego, living and dying by the sword as ever, fell caught at deep square following his latest blast, and it took Abdur Rehman to whack Somerset over 200, including a heaved six over the leg side off Craig.

The lower-order rally gave New Zealand only a slender lead but batting became far easier after tea and progress was at above four-an-over, for the loss of Hamish Rutherford, caught at cover, Latham lbw after an 88-ball half-century, and nightwatchman Wagner, caught at slip in the final over of the day.

Alex Winter is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo He tweets here

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