Doing the Hard Yards

Somerset did what they had to do on day one at Headingley having been put in by their hosts. At the close they had reached 374 -8 with sizeable contributions from Azhar Ali, James Hildreth, Steven Davies all of who reached the 80s but couldn’t go further. Hopes of a potentially crucial 5thbatting point were reduced with the loss of both Gregory and Davies in the same over and then Craig Overton just before the close.

No doubt the Yorkshire captain hoped to capitalise on his luck with the toss on a cloudy and overcast morning to make inroads into Somerset’s top order seeing that possibly as the only way of gaining a foothold in the match. More likely he was more worried, given Yorkshire’s fragile batting recently, of the damage Somerset’s potent seeing and seam attack could do to his own batting.

Whatever the motives after half an hour Somerset had lost both openers for 5 and were merely surviving against fine blowing from the skipper Jack Brooks. Brooks who it was announced on the eve of the game will be moving to Somerset next season was at his very best, seemingly at peace with both his decision and the fact that the news was now public.

But suddenly the clouds began to lift, the ribs started to flow and Somerset’s third wicket pair set about not only repairing the damage but putting their team in the ascendancy. A task that they completed with a fair amount of style allied to some diligence and, as is inevitable with these two a huge amount of class.

Even when they Hildreth and the skipper fell in the afternoon session Yorkshire’s attempts to get back into the contest seemed futile. By the time Azhar was surprisingly dismissed Somerset’s wicketkeeper had settled in quickly and, helped by some poor bowling kept the scoreboard moving.

The final session saw Davies and Lewis Gregory flay the home bowling attack hampered by the loss of the unlucky Matthew Fisher to the extent that apart from the white clothing it appeared Somerset were still in T20 mode. The pair added a scarcely believable 114 in 17.1 overs but if that was bad enough for the Yorkshire attack, the stick it came in for on ESPN and from a number of social media sources was by all accounts far worse. Things are not rosy in the broad shires at the moment.

So Somerset can be pleased with their first days work and a score which the more credible of the media see as already 100 over par. But with Surrey having recovered from 36-3 to close on??????? Against Notts Somerset will be aware that they will almost certainly need a victory to keep the leaders within range.

Expect three hard fought days between two sides fighting for contrasting reasons.