Battling Performance

Steven Davies and Dom Bess rescued Somerset's first innings from the nadir of 145-6 to post a respectable first innings total at Taunton

County Championship 2019 Division One, Somerset v Notts, Taunton, Day One, July 7th 2019 – Somerset 326 All Out (Davies 74, Bess 51, Wood 4-85)

Teams chasing the title put in performances like Somerset did today. Teams slipping inexorably toward the second division let opportunities slip like Notts did on the first day at Taunton. While we won’t know how good a total of 326 is on this wicket the suspicion has to be that Notts have missed an opportunity to take a hold of this game while Somerset have fought back strongly.

An unchanged Somerset were staring down the reality of being dismissed within two session for under 200 when shortly after 2.30 Lewis Gregory was dismissed, the third wicket in the space of 23 runs after lunch brought Somerset to 145-6. Notts had bowled well, Somerset hadn’t batted particularly well and in the space of three hours with Essex well through the Yorkshire order at Chelmsford Somerset’s title aspirations were looking decidedly less promising.

Steven Davies was joined by Dom Bess. And for the next two and a half hours they slowly turned things round. Not in a decisive match determining way but certainly in a momentum shifting way. Unlike the top five who had all got starts but never looked in the seventh wicket pair established a base before tea and built on it after.

Davies, never the most fluent or asthetically pleasing to watch showed huge amounts of guts, Bess was more fluent from the start. The pair seemed to feed off each other, constantly encouraging and reinforcing their combined determination at every opportunity.

It wasn’t easy going. Luke Wood, who had struck with his first ball and Ravi Ashwin were both a handful while both Luke Fletcher, who had a delightful rapport with the Somerset stand and Gimblett’s Hill throughout the day, and Jake Ball were far better as the day went on.

This was more like the Notts we all expected at the start of the season. But you could see the belief begin to evaporate as Davies and Bess built their partnership. This change in fortunes was such that it was a real surprise when the second new ball accounted for Bess for 51. The partnership had added 128, almost doubling Somerset’s score.

Disappointingly Davies was unable to press on to what would have been a deserved hundred falling lbw to the persevering Wood. But he had proved his value to the side and (yet again) his critics wrong. It gives me great pleasure to heap praise on the Somerset wicketkeeper and congratulate him for showing me how wrong I was to wonder if he was worthy of his place.

Bess showed once again what a prodigious talent he is. He belongs in this Somerset side and probably merits batting one or two places higher at the very least. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these runs result in a hatful of wickets in the next couple of weeks.

Jamie Overton batted like he can for a brisk 34 off 35 balls (4 fours 1 six) to proper Somerset to a third batting point.

You would expect the second day pitch to be at its best for batting but this Somerset bowling attack has shown time and again this season that it is a class above. If they can make a couple of early inroads Notts fragile confidence might be exposed, but it will not be easy.