Somerset gamble on late pitch change

Middlesex 51 for 1 trail Somerset 236 (Rogers 57, Podmore 4-54) by 185 runs

Harry Podmore claimed four wickets on his first County Championship appearance for Middlesex as Somerset were bowled out for 236 on the opening day of the match at Taunton.

Having made a late decision to switch from a dry looking strip to a very green one, the hosts were indebted to Chris Rogers, Jim Allenby and Marcus Trescothick for securing a bonus point in testing conditions.

Podmore, James Harris and James Fuller profited from excellent seam bowling conditions after the visitors had not surprisingly elected to field.

By the close of a rain-affected day, Middlesex had replied with 51 for 1 from 16 overs, losing Sam Robson lbw to the second ball of the innings from Craig Overton. Nick Gubbins was unbeaten on 31.

Explaining the late change of pitch, Rogers said: "We were caught off guard because we didn't know Tim Murtagh was unavailable for Middlesex. That being the case we felt our best chance of winning was to back our seam attack against their inexperienced one.

"Middlesex bowled not so well in the morning session, but very well after lunch. We were poor when we bowled at them and I expect us to be a lot better and more patient in the morning. We have played on so many flat pitches that our bowlers probably got excited. But I still feel the change of pitch was a gamble worth taking and that we are in a decent position."

Graham Cowdrey, the Cricket Liaison Officer at the game, said: "At this stage the umpires have found no problem with the pitch and it is Somerset's call which pitch they play on."

Somerset had put only six runs on the board when Johann Myburgh edged Fuller through to wicketkeeper John Simpson and departed for a duck.

But Rogers and Trescothick then produced the most positive strokeplay of the day, punishing anything loose in their second-wicket stand of 71.

Trescothick looked at his imperious best as his first eight scoring strokes brought boundaries before he got an inside edge onto his stumps to give Harris his first wicket.

The Middlesex bowlers failed to make the most of the conditions in the morning session. James Hildreth hit a six over backward point off Fuller before being adjudged lbw for 19 to a delivery from the same bowler.

Rogers moved to an attractive half-century off 68 balls, with ten fours, and was still there at lunch, with his side 125 for 3 off 27 overs.

Soon after the interval came the first rain break, with 30 minutes lost. When play resumed Middlesex bowled a better line and length, reaping reward with four wickets.

Rogers was caught by the diving Simpson leg-glancing a ball from Podmore, who had played in the competition only while on loan to Glamorgan earlier in the season.

He followed up by having Peter Trego caught behind for 4 off a full, swinging delivery. And it was 154 for 6 when Craig Overton fell for a duck, chasing a wide one from Harris and offering Simpson his fourth catch.

Alex Barrow contributed 10 before being caught at second slip by Ollie Rayner off Harris and when rain forced an early tea Somerset were 184 for 7.

The final session saw 27 runs added before Jamie Overton was caught at first slip aiming a full-blooded drive at Podmore. The players followed him off as rain brought a third interruption.

All the time Allenby had been compiling a valuable knock, riding his luck at times and surviving a tough one-handed chance to Rayner at slip off Podmore when on 35.

He had battled away for 115 balls when finally getting one with his name on it, edging Podmore behind to give Simpson a fifth victim. Rayner then took a fine diving slip catch to dismiss Jack Leach for 12 as Fuller took a deserved third wicket.