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Jack Leach sucks out Notts resistance as Somerset claim agenda-setting scalp

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'One of my best bowling performances' - Leach (0:35)

Somerset bowler Jack Leach praises the team performance as they look to keep their form in this year's campaign. (0:35)

Somerset 403 (Bartlett 133, Abell 101, Broad 5-73) beat Nottinghamshire 263 (Nash 58, Wood 52; Gregory 6-68) and 126 (Leach 6-36, Brooks 4-22) by an innings and 14 runs

England need no introduction to the qualities of Jack Leach as a spin bowler but, in an Ashes year, his performance to win this match on the third day, at a time of year in which seamers enjoy a near-monopoly of the ball, is worth underlining in fluorescent ink.

Leach took six Nottinghamshire wickets in the space of 17 overs either side of lunch to kill off any prospect of the home side, under the cosh after two days, doing enough even to threaten to end Somerset's remarkable run of consecutive victories against them, which now stands at seven in Championship cricket.

They were not the best figures of his career but he has never done so well so early in a season. Of his 18 hauls of five wickets or more in first-class matches, this was only the second one in April and the earliest by a couple of weeks. Tom Abell, Somerset's captain, said it was the best he had seen his man bowl at any time of year and Leach, without being brash or boastful about it, was inclined to agree.

"Yes, I do think it was one of the best spells I have bowled," he said. "I didn't play in our opening game last week and, after the first two days here, I felt like I hadn't really contributed, so I wanted to make an impact.

"There was a bit of turn and it skidded on a bit before lunch, when there was a bit of drizzle in the air.

"I tried to mix my pace a bit and play with my angles. On those kind of wickets I want to keep the batter guessing a little bit but stay accurate and keep things tight at one end so the seamers can do their work.

"It was pretty cold. It is a tough time for a spinner at this time of year so I was pleased to get a spell of overs under my belt. To be able to contribute to a win makes it even better."

All those things Leach spoke of were too much for a Nottinghamshire side who looked full of runs against Yorkshire last week but out of sorts in this match, unable to deal with the usual kind of April threat when Lewis Gregory tore through them in the first innings and lacking the skill or resilience on the day to counter Leach's teasing.

The left-armer came into the attack shortly after midday, at which point Nottinghamshire, 25 for 2 overnight after conceding a first-innings deficit of 140, were still fighting. Ben Slater and Luke Fletcher, the nightwatchman, had seen off Gregory and Jack Brooks for the moment, advancing the score to 65 for 2.

But then Leach struck in his first over, drawing Slater into a miss that allowed Steve Davies to execute a routing stumping. Joe Clarke was next to go, misreading the delivery so badly he lost his leg stump. Fletcher had a go at launching him but his miscued effort was caught in the deep. Down to 88 for 5 at lunch, Notts still trailed by 52.

Steven Mullaney and Samit Patel play spin better than most in this Nottinghamshire side and for the next hour they held firm. But they were offered few opportunities to score and ultimately Leach split them, Mullaney going the same way as Slater, although only after a long and plainly bemused review of where he thought his back foot had been when Steve O'Shaughnessy raised his finger at square leg.

Tom Moores went next, brilliantly caught by Marcus Trescothick, diving forward - yes - at short leg as Leach completed his five. The 43-year-old took a second catch when Luke Wood popped one to short midwicket off Brooks before Patel was deemed to be leg before to Leach and Stuart Broad hooked his first ball down the throat of deep backward square. All over.

"At the start of day two the game was even stevens but from that point onwards we were outplayed," the Nottinghamshire head coach, Peter Moores, said. "It is early in the season but we have to learn lessons quickly before we come back to Championship cricket.

"They [Somerset] look a good team. There is a reason they ran Surrey close in the Championship last year."

He agreed that the most positive aspect of the match from the home side's point of view was the form of Broad, who bowled a couple of spells in the Somerset innings that emphasised that his pace and skill are still there to be exploited when the Ashes series finally comes around in this packed year.

"His action looks as good as I've seen it for a long time and I said that to him during the game," Moores said. "He's worked hard, shortened his run-up a little bit, he's worked hard on his alignment towards the batter. He looks in great shape. I thought his spell at the end of day two was a Test match bowler operating on full power."

Moores admitted, meanwhile, that Clarke, who had to give evidence earlier in the week in the retrial of his friend, the former Worcestershire player Alex Hepburn, who was convicted of rape on Friday, found it difficult to concentrate on his cricket.

After scoring more than 200 runs against Yorkshire, Clarke was out for 2 in both innings here.

"It was difficult for him today, yes," Moores said. "All sport is about focus and when you have got other things on your mind that makes it challenging for sure."

Notts 3rd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st8BT SlaterBM Duckett
2nd8CD NashBT Slater
3rd50LJ FletcherBT Slater
4th6LJ FletcherJM Clarke
5th9SJ MullaneyLJ Fletcher
6th16SR PatelSJ Mullaney
7th14SR PatelTJ Moores
8th9SR PatelL Wood
9th6SR PatelSCJ Broad
10th0SCJ BroadJT Ball