Somerset v Notts, County Championship Division One, Taunton June 9 – 12 2018 Somerset 307-7 (Renshaw 106, Davies 92*, Abell 57)
The battle of the top two in Division One could, by some cruel observers, seem a little underwhelming. Leaders Nottinghamshire rolled into Taunton with less swagger than you might expect of table-toppers. Their position at the top of the table owed much to the early season performances of their seam attack and camouflaged weaknesses in the other departments.
Somerset, on the other hand, were looking to put draws against Lancashire and Hampshire in the Championship and a disappointing 50- over campaign behind them.
For my part, I went into this game with considerable optimism believing the two teams were moving in opposite directions and that the home side held the better side of the equation.
Matt Renshaw, making his last appearance of this stint at Taunton (although many will hope this is not his last spell with Somerset) seemed to be determined to go out with a flourish. Not the flashy innings we saw against Worcestershire and Yorkshire in April but here a more measured Australian. While he is not yet a Rogers or Justin Langer in application and temperament this innings signalled a man who wanted three figures very badly.
Somerset were grateful for the Aussie’s application, his compatriots in the top 4 managed only 44 between them. So when the skipper walked out to join him in the 41st over 127-3 did not represent a position of any strength.
While the pair only added 49 before Renshaw departed this was for me the turning point of the day. From 176-4 Steve Davies added 82 with the skipper as bat seemed to be finally firmly in charge.
But Somerset cricket wouldn’t be Somerset cricket if this pair serenely batted out the day. Not only did the skipper go late in the day but Lewis Gregory and Roleof van der Merwe swiftly followed.
It was left to England’s newest cap, Dom Bess to see Davies through to the close.
Honours even? 307-7 represents a decent position from 127-3 but a disappointing one from 258-4. Somerset will want to move significantly closer to 400 on the second morning and then hope the fragile Nottinghamshire batting lineup feels “scoreboard pressure”.
The alternate scenario – Somerset’s first innings being wrapped up quickly and Notts exploiting a benign second-day pitch would leave the hosts a sizeable third innings task.
Your take on these two diametrically opposed views will determine how solid you feel Somerset’s foundation is.