County Championship Division 1, Old Trafford, Day 2, 5th May 2018. Somerset 429 Bartlett (110, Trescothick 100, Abell 99) lead Lancashire 217-2 by 212 runs
The last thing Somerset needed was for the previously fragile confidence of Keaton Jennings to be restored in this game. Yet by the close of play he was 91* and beginning to play with an ominous degree of control and fluency. With stoic support from Dane Vilas Somerset’s lead did not seem by any means impregnable.
True, the conditions continued to favour the batting side, even more so than on the first day. Ask any of the Somerset bowlers about the surface and they will confirm it was a batsman’s paradise unfolding under the Manchester sun on the second afternoon. But that would under-rate Jennings’ achievement. New to these parts but used to playing the majority of his cricket in the far north, Jennings will know that opportunities like this that favour the batsmen rarely come along, let alone in early May. Jennings looked very keen not to miss out.
After making two early breakthroughs, both England Lions, the Somerset attack toiled valiantly but in vain to add to their mid-afternoon successes. Timmy G got opener Alex Davies caught behind playing one attacking shot too many for 23. Jack Leach generated enough uncertainty in Liam Livingstone to have him comfortably caught at slip by Lewis Gregory playing across the line for 6.
Thereafter both Jack Leach and especially Craig Overton bowled testing spells so that you always felt that one Lancashire wicket in that final session would yield two or three more. But it never came.
That Lancashire could close the second day within 200 runs of Somerset’s first innings seemed highly unlikely when the visitors were 415-6 but within just 14 deliveries the innings was over. 429 seemed suddenly like a very disappointing outcome. Tom Abell was eighth out for 99 having been pinned down on that score for the best part of 15 minutes thanks to some fine bowling by Joe Mennie. The skipper thoroughly deserved that extra run, but it is some comfort to see him back to his best.
The hope that either Groenewald or van Meekeren could produce some typically lusty blows to propel the total beyond 450 was in vain as Matt Parkinson mopped up with relish.
They say in golf tournaments that the third day is “movers day”. will it be the Somerset bowlers, the Lancashire batsmen or the Old Trafford surface that “moves” on Sunday?