On day one, Warwickshire had the best of this clash of two sides, currently fourth and fifth and looking to move into the upper reaches of the Division One table. On an easy pitch and under sunny skies, they bowled Somerset out for 265, 64 of those being added for the last wicket. In the final ten overs of the day, Warwickshire made a steady start to their innings and will look to build a big total tomorrow.
Whereas over 11,000 spectators screamed and shouted last night at Edgbaston, today less than a tenth of that number maintained a decorous silence broken only by polite applause.
Somerset, having played a NatWest T20 game last night at the Oval, will have been grateful for a noon start and much relieved to win the toss and bat on an easy-paced pitch. They fielded six of the team that had been severely punished by Jason Roy. Warwickshire, too, asked six players to accomplish the difficult task of transmogrifying themselves overnight from their Birmingham Bear alter ego.
On a pitch with just a little movement for the quicker bowlers and a hint of slow turn for Jeetan Patel, Somerset made stately progress during the pre-lunch session. Marcus Trescothick never suggests by his footwork that he will be a contender for Strictly Come Dancing. He still is a master, however, of the guessing game of “did I play and miss or just pretend?”
Patel took the two wickets to fall before lunch, Tom Abell caught by the sure hands of Rikki Clarke in the slips and Michael Bates, promoted to number three despite a season highest first-class score of 14 not out, caught by Varun Chopra after a mis-hit to mid-on.
Trescothick batted through the first session for 47 but added only a single on the resumption before mis-hitting a drive at Jeetan Patel and skying to Laurie Evans in the covers. This was the start of a spell in which Somerset stumbled from 88/2 to 127/6, thanks to some excellent bowling from Chris Woakes who claimed Tom Cooper and James Hildreth to catches in the slip cordon and then had Pete Trego spectacularly caught by Laurie Evans in the gully.
James Allenby and Craig Overton offered some intelligent counter-attacking cricket as well as a few plays and misses before Allenby was smartly caught by Patel at second slip off Rikki Clarke. Warwickshire had to this point caught brilliantly but Patel failed to hold on to a rapid edge from Abdur Rehman off Clarke. No doubt, had he been at second slip, Clarke himself would have caught it.
The pair added another 26 runs before Rehman mis-hit Patel to be caught at deep extra cover by Ian Westwood. Somerset were now 186/8 but Craig Overton had been playing some aggressive shots, hitting Oliver Hannon-Dalby back over his head and then pulling him for two fours in the same over.
Shortly after reaching an excellent fifty which included eight fours, Overton was brilliantly caught left-handed by Sam Hain at short leg to reduce Somerset to 201/9. It gave Patel his first five wicket haul of the season and the 17th of his career. It was also his 45th wicket in the two competitions played so far this season.
The fall of this wicket postponed tea, which threatened to be taken at supper time, what with the late start to the day and this delay. Indeed, Tim Groenewald and Alfonso Thomas were still in residence when tea was finally called at 5.30. They had added 35, which must have given the two ex-Bears some satisfaction. Mind you, who hasn’t Alfonso played for? He must have more exes than Kerry Katona, though he now seems faithfully married to Somerset.
After tea, the last wicket pair brought up their fifty stand and compelled the Bears to take the new ball. Even this did not produce immediate results but eventually, the persevering Clarke had Tim Groenewald caught at backward point by Sam Hain for 34. Thomas was left on 32 not out; and the pair had added 64, the highest stand of the innings. The bowling honours were shared by Patel (5-89), Woakes (3-48) and Clarke (2-31). Unusually, all ten wickets fell to catches , none of them to wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose.
In the last ten overs of the day, Warwickshire made an untroubled start to their innings and will hope to give Somerset a tough day in the field tomorrow.