Craig Overton helped support his international hopes with two wickets as Somerset were rewarded for tight, testing bowling and emerged the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship encounter with Hampshire with the upper hand.
The 23-year-old, who was not included in England’s iT20 team against South Africa despite the promise of a debut from skipper Eoin Morgan, was superb and particularly in his first and second spells. Those bemused by the selectors’ decision will only have had fuel added to their fire.
He bowled with pace and found hints of movement with the pink ball – being used for the first time in this round of fixtures – accounting for Jimmy Adams and Rilee Rossouw.
Adams had put on 84 with fellow opener Liam Dawson having negotiated a tricky first session, in which first slip Marcus Trescothick was hit on the shoulder by an Adams edge that went very quickly.
Shortly after the first interval, Adams was squared up on 47 by a ball that just nipped away off the seam, edging Overton through to James Hildreth at first slip.
Rossouw attempted a pull in Overton’s next over but only skied it off the edge, Davies taking a good catch over his shoulder running back. The South African has five ducks in his last eight innings, scoring just 34 runs; Tom Alsop will play for Hampshire’s 2nd XI tomorrow, and is presumably next in line for number three.
As an experimental round to test the pink ball ahead of England’s day/night Test against the West Indies in September, it was certainly enlightening. It seamed early on before becoming more docile, only to cause issue once again just after the 50th over. Perhaps on a slightly livelier wicket, things might be different.
Dawson was the only man to pass 50, reluctant to play too extravagantly, striking just four boundaries but countering a dangerous attack well. Indeed, the ropes were rarely found with Hampshire going 24 overs without a boundary at one stage in the late afternoon.
He brought up his first half-century in the Championship this season with a push into the covers off Gregory, but the quick pinned him in front on 53 with a ball that kept low.
His opening spell had Adams in allsorts, seaming the ball dangerously and deserving of the opener’s wicket. Both Gareth Berg (lbw for 11) and Lewis McManus (clean bowled on 13 by one that jagged back) fell to Gregory late in the evening, his figures of 3-51 a much fairer reflection of his efforts than what might have been.
James Vince looked good for his 47, anchoring an innings that could very easily have collapsed far earlier than it ultimately did. Three of his four boundaries came in a single over, including a crisp cover drive and a lovely flick through midwicket.
Either side of the supper break, captain George Bailey came and went for just four, before Sean Ervine half-heartedly attempted to cut Jack Leach only to feather a bottom edge to Davies.
Vince departed in the spinner’s following over, attempting to tickle one behind but giving the wicketkeeper his third catch. Ian Holland went for a duck in the next over, his stumps scattered by a peach from Tim Groenewald that moved back sharply.
When McManus went, Hampshire were one short of a batting point. Kyle Abbott hit 13 and helped them to that milestone, before the hosts issued the first of presumably many funky pink ball declarations, leaving Somerset six overs to bat under the lights.
Berg and Abbott threatened the edge on a few occasions but Trescothick and debutant Edward Byrom were resolute, and will resume at the crease tomorrow with a platform to push their side into a strong position.