Calypso collapso at ‘Ciderabad’ but Somerset still managed to win before the end of day three at The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton.
Ravi Ashwin and Notts’ 20-year-old left-arm spinner Liam Patterson-White, on his first-class debut, both took five-fers. But then Jack Leach, Dom Bess and Jamie Overton carved through the league’s bottom side to keep Somerset 15 points above Essex at the top of Division One.
After the `openers’ (Tim Groenewald had come and failed as nightwatchman the night before) Azhar Ali and Tom Abell had put on 55 comfortably for the second wicket, a freak short leg catch triggered a collapse of six wickets for 59 runs.
Ashwin’s leg-side full toss was creamed into the midriff of Ben Slater who somehow wrapped his arms around it before flinching, Somerset skipper Abell having to depart for 24.
The next dismissal was one of the most surprising from a man of James Hildreth’s class, a misjudged sashay down the wicket and he edged through to Tom Moores – his only victim in an otherwise tricky day for the Notts keeper. 20 out of the first 91 Somerset runs were byes.
Banton and Bartlett’s dismissal’s were as soft, going back when they should have stepped forward to the debutant Patterson-White.
Moores’ poor day continued with a missed stumping of Ali off Ashwin when he was on just 28 as Somerset were really struggling against Notts’ all-spin attack.
The home side were 179-6 effectively when Davies was dismissed to make it 94-6 in Somerset’s second innings.
Gregory immediately took the attack to Patterson-White, charging and lofting over Samit Patel at mid off. Patel, who travelled down last night as a concussion replacement for Chris Nash, was not allowed to bowl as that would make him a non like-for-like replacement for non-bowling batsman Nash.
This was not an issue for Notts though with Patterson-White doing the damage. His third wicket saw Somerset’s white-ball skipper fall fifth ball after lunch for just nine, caught at mid on.
He went on to get Bess for five and Leach for a duck, but only after Overton provided a little resistance, smashing the first six of the innings into the River Tone on his way to earning Somerset’s joint second highest score of 24. Ali somehow battled through to be 65 unbeaten, the backbone of a low-scoring but possibly match-winning second innings.
At the end of the Somerset innings, 19 wickets had fallen to spin in succession since Overton had Ben Slater caught slapping at a short wide one early on Day Two!
Jake Libby lasted just one ball in the second innings and Slater 15 as Leach struck twice before tea, leaving Ashwin and Moores still 224 adrift at the third interval of Day Three.
A surprise move from skipper Abell saw Overton bowl the first over after tea, and with his last ball the tactic worked, Tom Moores fending to Hildreth at slip on 22.
Ashwin kept plugging away, a man used to trial by spin in his home conditions of India, but a solid period of stoic defence was ended by a controversial decision to give Steven Mullaney out caught behind by Nick Cook. The Notts skipper had to walk for a 35-ball nine, very well held by Hildreth off Bess, but slow-motion replays (which of course Championship umpires don’t benefit from) and Mullaney’s body language suggest he didn’t touch it.
Patel didn’t last long, Hildreth taking another great catch off Leach. Ashwin looked to continue his dogged, defiant knock until close, but surprisingly chipped to mid on when on 41 off 104 balls. That’s 29 first-class wickets at an average of 19 for Jack Leach this season.
Luke Fletcher didn’t look like he fancied another day in the west country, top edging Bess to Lewis Gregory for six. Patterson-White fronted up to Overton’s rockets bravely for a while, but the full and straight one sent him packing for two.
Somerset charge on at the top of Division One.