Taunton, June 09 - 12, 2018, Specsavers County Championship Division One
(T:248) 392 & 250/4
(f/o) 134 & 505

Somerset won by 6 wickets


Dom Bess toil sums up Somerset's day of slog

Roelof van der Merwe claimed four wickets and there was a maiden ton for Tom Moores as Nottinghamshire fought to avoid defeat

David Hopps
David Hopps
Roelof van der Merwe celebrates a breakthrough, Somerset v Nottinghamshire, County Championship, Division One, Taunton, June 11, 2018

Roelof van der Merwe celebrates a breakthrough  •  Getty Images

Nottinghamshire 134 (Taylor 74, Overton 4-53) and 468 for 8 (Moores 103, Mullaney 94, Libby 69, Nash 66, Patel 55, van der Merwe 4-114) lead Somerset 392 (Renshaw 106, Davies 92*, Abell 57) by 210 runs
Life may never be as uncomplicated again for Dom Bess as that magical day at Headingley little more than a week ago when he took his first Test wickets, England forced a victory against Pakistan to draw the series and everything he turned his hand to was an occasion to relish.
As The Cure had it, at that moment there was nowhere else in the world he would rather be - it really couldn't get any better than this. But the strawberry kiss of Headingley was nowhere to be seen as his beloved Taunton, no longer the spin bowler's paradise of last season, blew him a raspberry.
Now Bess' cricketing life is demanding, pressurised even, as he comes to terms with his new-found status. Zestful and innocent one moment, he now carries the onus of responsibility the next. Initially at least, every ball says: "I Am An England Cricketer." The shift in reputation must be difficult to block out of his mind. Things are not coming easily for him.
Bess did not suffer alone. Somerset's decision to enforce the follow-on after ousting Notts for 134 on first innings, a lead of 258, consigned all-comers to a slog in favourable batting conditions on the third day. There was no swing this time, as the sky turned pristine blue, and only gentle turn. By closing at 468 for 8, and making 356 runs in the day, Notts held a slightly disturbing lead of 210.
In the first innings, there were five ducks in their top eight; this time there were four fifties and a maiden hundred for Tom Moores who overcome a sticky start to play with great freedom. His father, Peter, the Nottinghamshire coach, allowed himself a liberty of a paternal pat on the back at the close.
Bess was into his fifth spell of the day when he finally found reward: two wickets which quietly shifted the match back towards Somerset, if not with certainty. His first over back had conceded ten, his figures distinctly unflattering: 0 for 113 in 25 overs. A possible Test against India in August must have been far from his thoughts; his priority was merely to get it to the other end, to create something positive to cling to.
Then an innocuous delivery bowled Billy Root, perhaps off a slight bottom edge, as he tried to cut. He struck again with what became the last ball of the day: Moores, with 103 from 117 balls, covering up against a low full toss which in another situation he might have struck out of the ground, and falling lbw. Moores had gradually won his battle with Bess in the final session as the offspinner was heartened by the chance to bowl at two left-handers and would have been frustrated by his demise.
Even then the Taunton scorecard, which gets a bit cramped, made it look as if he had taken 2 for 8,115.
Another Somerset spinner fared rather better. Not Jack Leach, Bess' normal spin bowling partner, whose injury presented him with his Test debut, and who hopes to return against Surrey later this month, but Roelof van der Merwe, who looks stocky and battle-hardened enough to be a bouncer who might refuse the young Bess entry to a nightclub.
After 43 probing overs, delivered with sagacity at less than three an over, his exertions brought four wickets. Steven Mullaney, six short of a century, Samit Patel and Riki Wessels all fell lbw - Mullaney gesturing that he had hit it, Wessels defeated on the lap - and Ross Taylor was bowled as he searched for his favourite cut shot.
He would have claimed his first five-wicket haul if Matt Renshaw, on his knees at first slip, had not dropped Chris Nash, on 40, who was the Notts batsman most in need of sustenance and who went on to his first Championship half-century of the season before Josh Davey bowled him with one that held its line. "I've never taken five wickets so that is something to aim for tomorrow," he said. "Knowing Dom, I expect he will take the last two!"
Moores, with a previous best first-class score of 43, understandably punched the air in delight upon reaching his hundred. Bess must have remembered when life seemed so straightforward. Then he thumped Moores on the pad and went into the pavilion reassured that things were still turning his way.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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Specsavers County Championship Division One