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Can Somerset supporters dare to dream?

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Defending champions Essex off the mark (2:57)

Catch up with the latest from the County Championship, as Surrey's Ollie Pope makes a century at the Oval and Somerset secure victory (2:57)

Somerset 202 (Renshaw 101, Barnard 5-52) and 255 (Hildreth 111*, Barnard 6-37) beat Worcestershire 179 (Gregory 4-51) and 195 by 83 runs
Scorecard

Experience should have taught Somerset supporters better. Years of near misses have tempered expectations at Taunton and they remain, painfully, one of just three of the first-class counties never to have won the County Championship title. Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire are the other two.

They've been second a few times. Including, in 2010, when they finished on the same number of points as the winners (Nottinghamshire) but missed out on the basis of having won fewer games. A period in which they were second so often in so many different competitions that it led to a sense of fatalistic acceptance. Such experiences tend to leave scars.

And yet somehow, at this time of year, the hope like the sap rises. A victory in the opening match of the Championship season - the first time they have managed that since 2012 - will inevitably have supporters quietly asking themselves - in weak moments and against their better judgement - if this could be the year. Not many, not even the most fervent supporters of other clubs, would begrudge them.

There were encouraging signs here, certainly. It must have been some time since Somerset won a home again without their spinners taking a wicket. Or, indeed, bowling until 39 wickets had already fallen in the match. They have several skilful seamers who, in this second innings in particular, harnessed the conditions very well. Matt Renshaw, too, settled in quickly and may prove to be an astute overseas signing. They have now won three in a row at home.

But Somerset will know that life is going to get much harder. Worcestershire, for all the all-round excellence of Ed Barnard, produced two flimsy displays with the bat - Tom Fell has not scored a half-century in any form of the game since September 2016, Brett D'Oliveira has scored 10 in four Championship innings so far this season and George Rhodes has two runs in his last three innings - and dropped several chances. Crucially, James Hildreth was put down twice in each innings.

And Somerset will know that, against more resolute opposition, their own frailties may be exploited. Their batting, to some extent masked in this match by Renshaw's resilience and Hildreth taking his chances so well, remains a concern, while Marcus Trescothick is starting to become a bit of a worry at slip. He put down two chances in Worcestershire's second innings and might have been a touch slow to go for a couple that might be termed half-chances. When you're aged 42, people will start to ask questions though it is true that slip fielders of all ages drop chances.

There was just a touch of controversy at the end of the match. Steve Magoffin, clearly struggling with a hamstring injury, failed to make his ground when attempting a second run and was beaten by Renshaw's throw from the cover boundary in front of the Caddick Pavilion. Those close to that boundary - and the dressing rooms of both sides overlook it - insisted that one foot was over the rope when he intercepted the ball leaving Joe Leach, the Worcestershire captain, to politely but clearly remonstrate with the umpires.

To be fair to Renshaw, who as a replacement for Cameron Bancroft must be desperate to avoid any negative publicity, he might not have known his foot had crossed the rope. There was no way the umpires or most of those in the crowd could tell, though those close to the incident seemed pretty certain. As a local wag put it: "He was so far over, he was in bloody Dorset."

Leach was pretty philosophical about it. He accepted Worcestershire's fielding was more relevant to this result than Renshaw's but frustrated that, for all the glimpses of quality his side have shown in their first two games, they have lost two from two and find themselves already a little off the pace

"As we lost by more than 80 runs, the run-out probably wouldn't have made any difference," he admitted. "But there have been big last-wicket partnerships and you never know.

"In the end our fielding has cost us the game. We've let ourselves down. I don't know how many catches we dropped, but it was too many, and if you drop six or seven chances you're going to struggle. In both our opening games we have had periods of control and I have no doubts about our ability to compete in the First Division as the season progresses."

Not for a moment did it appear Worcestershire would chase down their target of 279. Lewis Gregory claimed two wickets in his opening spell, Travis Head flashed at one off the back foot and, while Barnard added 74 for the last two wickets, it always looked likely to be too little, too late.

Gregory bowled beautifully in that first spell. Having sneaked one through the gap between Daryl Mitchell's bat and pad to knock out both off and middle stumps, he set up Joe Clarke with a series of outswingers and trapped him with one that tailed back just a little.

He later denied any knowledge of an approach from another club, though Jason Kerr - Somerset's head coach - admitted it was "inevitable" and confirmed Gregory had been offered a new contract at Somerset. "He wants some time to think about it and that's okay," Kerr said. "We're in discussions."

Somerset, meanwhile, are awaiting news of scans on Jamie Overton and Eddie Byrom, who dislocated his shoulder while fielding.

It will be no consolation to Worcestershire, but this match was, in many ways, the perfect antidote to news from elsewhere in the game over recent days. To see two teams stuffed with home-grown players - there were nine in the Worcestershire side and six in Somerset's - contesting an entertaining match in front of a good number of spectators (more than 5,000 over the three days) was heartening.

For those of us who aren't entirely sure what a Kardashian is, don't recognise who the 'celebrities' entering the jungle are and don't much care whether they leave it or not, it was a reminder that this great game doesn't need too many gimmicks to retain its charm or value. If only those that run our sport believed in it as much as those that watch it.