|Scorecard:||Somerset v Sussex|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2013|
DateLine: 8th July 2013
John Ward at Taunton, day 1
Close of play: Somerset (244); Sussex 174/2.
It was perhaps an unwise decision for Somerset to produce a rare green ‘result’ pitch at Taunton for a match against the team lying second in the championship table as it stands. Sussex indeed showed their approval with a dominant performance, first with the ball and then, despite a bad start to their innings, with the bat, as a bold innings from Michael Yardy shattered the nerve of the Somerset bowlers. After dismissing Somerset for 244, Sussex at the close were very well placed at 174 for two wickets.
Somerset were soon regretting their green pitch, and also their choice to bat first on it when they won the toss. Their two former international opening batsmen, Marcus Trescothick and Nick Compton, were both dismissed without a run to their credit. Trescothick tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his bat from the second ball of the innings, bowled by James Anyon, and edged to the keeper, while Compton (“the former Worcestershire player”) lasted five balls before he played a weak stroke at a ball from Steve Magoffin and was caught at first slip, the total now being 4 for two.
Alviro Petersen and James Hildreth had to fight back, and were beaten at times off the lively pitch, but just as they were looking to have settled in Petersen (16) pushed forward at a ball from Magoffin that took the edge to the keeper; 33 for three. Fortunately for Somerset Hildreth survived and seemed quite untroubled by the pitch, gathering runs with ease in contrast to the struggles of his partners.
Craig Kieswetter played a very dogged game when he joined Hildreth, but it was wise policy to give his partner his head, allow him to monopolize the bowling while himself concentrating solely on survival. Hildreth reached his fifty off just 52 balls, the total then being 75, but wasted a possible major innings with a flashy drive on 66 that edged a ball from Chris Jordan to the keeper. He faced 70 balls, hit eleven fours and left with the score 95 for four wickets.
Jos Buttler tried to dominate, scoring 11 runs off 12 balls, but it was not to be his day, and he flashed once too often, giving Ben Brown another catch at the wicket off the bowling of Anyon. Lunch came at 122 for five, and after that Kieswetter looked to take the initiative with spells of attacking strokes. His partners came and went, Peter Trego for 10, caught in the covers off Anyon, and Craig Meschede out to a sharp low catch at third slip off Magoffin for 12. Kieswetter, after another slow period, went to his fifty off 100 balls, and then, to the chagrin of his team and the crowd, decided to take a risky single to mid-on when on 55, and was caught short by a direct hit from Anyon. Somerset were now 204 for eight.
The tail did their best to hold up Sussex, with Alfie Thomas playing a rather defensive innings of 33, with an occasional lusty hit, and Jamie Overton making the point that he was misplaced at number eleven by making 21 off 14 balls before giving the wicket-keeper Brown his fifth catch of the innings. Steve Kirby, batting at ten, took nearly an hour to score 2 runs and was unbeaten.
The total was a mediocre 244. There was some movement off the pitch throughout the innings, but some of the top order in particular played some poor strokes. The seamers shared the wickets between them, four to Magoffin, three to Anyon and two to Jordan.
Kirby and Overton, taking the new ball for Somerset, also relished the conditions, however, and gave the Sussex openers a hard time of it. Luke Wells (4) was the first to fall, quite unable to handle a ball from Overton that finished in the hands of first slip. His partner Chris Nash also fell for 4, edging a superb delivery from Kirby to the keeper, and Sussex were 8 for two – marginally better than the start made by the home side.
Kirby bowled an outstanding opening spell of 6-4-8-1, but Overton tired in the heat and Michael Yardy was able to start a fightback by taking advantage of some loose deliveries from his end, and from this point the Somerset bowling began to go downhill. Yardy, especially with pulls, steers to third man and drives through the covers, was now scoring at better than a run a ball, and his partner Matt Machan also began to climb in. Trego and Meschede bowled poorly, paid the consequences and Yardy reached fifty off just 41 balls.
After being 16 for two off nine overs, Sussex after 20 overs were 124 for two, thanks to aggressive batting and some very wasteful bowling. Trego’s four-over spell cost 35 runs, and when Kirby replaced him Yardy smacked his first ball to the boundary, although he almost holed out to midwicket off the second. Even Kirby could no longer keep control, and later in the over Machan reached his fifty off 56 balls.
For the last few overs, however, the batsmen decided to concentrate on surviving to fight another day, although Machan was most fortunate to pop a ball just over the head of short leg. The disgraceful over rate by the teams meant that play ran overtime by almost 45 minutes. The day finished with Yardy on 94, Machan on 58, and Sussex 71 behind with eight wickets left, poised to take full control.
The crowd was smaller than usual, numbering only a few hundred, and, given the performance of their team on the first day of this match, these figures may well not improve.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 John Ward)