|Scorecard:||Somerset v Durham|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2013|
DateLine: 7th June 2013
John Ward at Taunton, day 1
Close of play: Somerset (336/5) v Durham.
A sometimes painful return to batting form by Nick Compton was the backbone of an encouraging day’s batting by Somerset at Taunton. The England opener, fighting to hold on to his Test place, battled through a difficult start to his innings to fight his way to his twentieth career century at the best possible time for him. He batted throughout the day for 139 not out, helped by useful but not outstanding performances from his six partners, and Somerset will be at least reasonably pleased to finish the day on 336 for five. Had one other batsman really set out his stall for a major innings, they would be in clover.
Somerset won the toss on a beautiful sunny morning and a sound-looking pitch, and not surprisingly decided to bat. They opened with Marcus Trescothick and Compton, the latter after a disappointing Test series against New Zealand. Trescothick looked in fine form, while Compton struggled to hit the ball off the square, but it was Trescothick who was first to go. He slashed at a full-length ball from Graham Onions outside the off stump and was caught high up at second slip, after making 36 of the first 47 runs.
The arrival of Arul Suppiah meant that two out-of-form batsmen were in together, and the run rate dropped. Both, however, put their heads down with great determination to fight their way back to form, and were still there at lunch when the score was 82 for one; Compton was on 23 after two hours at the crease.
After lunch Suppiah showed more aggression for a while, and had almost caught up Compton in the thirties when that batsman suddenly decided he could bat again. He reached his fifty in style, off 129 balls, by driving the off-spinner Ryan Buckley for four and a straight six. But soon afterwards Suppiah was beaten all ends up and bowled by a fine ball from Onions that went right through him; he made 36 and the score was 132 for two.
The score had advanced to a very healthy 212 for two at tea, but this was immediately followed by the Moment of the Day. Paul Collingwood had a brainwave in asking the occasional off-spinner Will Smith to bowl the first over after the break to the South African Dean Elgar, who had played some classic strokes and is certainly a batsman of vast potential. Elgar played two balls quietly, cut the third for four, and then had a terrific heave at the fourth – only for his middle stump to be uprooted instead. He walked off in considerable embarrassment after making 33.
Compton progressed through the nineties with infinitely more caution than he negotiated the forties, and eventually reached three figures 35 minutes after tea. His century took him just over 4½ hours and 202 balls. His new partner was James Hildreth, who scored 32 quite briskly in a partnership of 53 before he tried to swing a full-length ball from Buckley across the line and was trapped lbw; 269 for four, and all four batsmen who lost their wickets in the thirties.
Alex Barrow just failed to reach the thirties, being bowled for 25 by a good ball from Mark Wood that went right through him; the score was now 307 for five. And still the immovable Compton was there, still concentrating, still pouncing on the loose ball and making it suffer. By the close he had moved on to 139 and obviously planning to make many more tomorrow. Peter Trego was with him on 13, and Somerset will be hoping to turn 336 for five into an unbeatable total on the second day. Whether they will be able to force eventual victory in good batting conditions remains to be seen.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 John Ward)