Somerset and Yorkshire will both enter this third-round County Championship clash at Taunton with a spring in their step.
That’s after the two sides sealed impressive home victories last week. For Somerset it was their opening match of the season and the win over newly-promoted Worcestershire was built on two superb individual batting displays.
On his Somerset debut, Australian opener Matthew Renshaw proved his worth as overseas signing with a first-innings 101 not out. It was a lone hand, scoring exactly half of his side’s total.
He was followed in the second innings by an unbeaten century from James Hildreth, those two knocks setting up the victory for the bowlers to seal. Lewis Gregory claimed seven in the match as the Taunton side got off to the perfect start on home soil.
Yorkshire also made the most of home comforts, in what was technically their second-match of the season. Their first, against champions Essex, was a complete washout. But against Nottinghamshire last week, Yorkshire demonstrated some of the collective quality and resolve that won them back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.
Gary Ballance’s second-innings 82 was a timely reminder of his quality but the headlines went to bowler Ben Coad who grabbed that rare feat – a 10-wicket haul in the match.
It was the second time 24-year-old Coad has achieved that in his 16 first-class matches and he boasts a superb average of 21.16. He is a perfect bowler to exploit early-season conditions and Somerset will be wary of his threat.
It was a slightly below-par 2017 for James Hildreth, by his incredible consistent high standards. Just a couple of centuries and an average of 30.24 will have disappointed the middle-order star slightly. But he started the new season in fine fashion last week, notching an unbeaten 111 in the second innings to set his side up for victory. Hildreth has been a key man for Somerset for many years and will look to continue his excellent start against Yorkshire.
The headlines understandably went to Coad, but Jack Brooks was also very impressive with the ball against Notts. He claimed five wickets in the match and there are few more threatening new-ball county bowlers in conditions where the ball moves around. With Yorkshire missing some big-names from their bowling unit, they are reliant on the experienced Brooks to lead the attack.
Fresh from his century on Somerset debut, Australian overseas star Matt Renshaw will open again. Current England Test duo Craig Overton and Jack Leach are set to feature again, Leach only bowling 1.4 overs in the match last week due to the favourable conditions for seamers.
Somerset Squad: Tom Abell (c), Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Dom Bess, Josh Davey, Steve Davies (wk), Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Matt Renshaw, Marcus Trescothick, Paul van Meekeren
Left-arm spinner Karl Carver comes into the Yorkshire squad for their trip to Taunton – a ground which is renowned for spin, though normally much later in the season. Matt Fisher and Steve Patterson continue to miss out through injury.
Yorkshire Squad: Gary Ballance (C), Tim Bresnan, Harry Brook, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Ben Coad, Andrew Hodd (wk), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Josh Shaw, Matthew Waite
Weather and Conditions
The first two days of the match are set to be badly hit by the weather which will limit the chances of a result. Expect the conditions to favour seam bowling, with the effectiveness of the spin bowlers likely to be diminished.
Date: 27th-30th April 2018
Ground: Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton
Odds (SkyBet): Somerset 6/5, Yorkshire 4/6