Warwickshire put check on Somerset’s title challenge

Warwickshire put check on Somerset’s title challenge

On a day when 13 overs were lost to heavy showers, Warwickshire advanced from their overnight score of 303-4 to 419 and then saw Somerset progress uncertainly to 167-5, largely thanks to a season best 89 not out from Steven Davies.

With fine weather forecast for the next two days, all results are still possible though the win that Somerset need to maintain their title challenge seems the least likely outcome.

19 year old Birmingham University history student George Garrett took his maiden first class wicket and showed great promise on his debut.

At the start of the day, Rob Yates (also 19) added only 2 to his overnight score before edging Jack Brooks to Roelef van der Merwe in the gully. He had batted four minutes over six hours for his breakthrough innings of 141.

A rain delay of an hour was followed by Brooks claiming another wicket when Tim Ambrose aimed what could most kindly be called a cut but was really a waft at a shortish ball which he edged behind. The Somerset bowlers could clearly see light at the end of what had been, yesterday, a long dark tunnel.

For a while, the match proceeded at a hectic rate. Brookes and his partner Michael Burgess alternated false shots with boundaries. Brookes square cut a six to the absurdly short Hollies Stand boundary. Then, aiming to hit a full length ball from Jamie Overton to the on side, he got a leading edge and was brilliantly caught by van der Merwe in the gully, diving full length to his right.

Burgess and Jeetan Patel continued the aggressive approach, taking the Bears to a fourth batting point. In a frenetic half hour either side of lunch, the pair added 51 off 44 balls. Burgess went to his 50 but then played on to Craig Overton. Patel soon followed him, edging Tom Abell to James Hildreth in the slips.

There then followed a last wicket stand between Ollie Hannon-Dalby and debutant George Garrett. Brief though it was (15 runs from seven overs), it was frustrating for the bowling side. Both left handers, the two batsmen were not good enough to touch balls outside the off stump, could block straight balls and occasionally managed to hit loose ones. Tom Abell ended it by having Hannon-Dalby caught by Steven Davies diving to his left.

Whilst Warwickshire might have hoped for more at the start of the day, 419 was a good total against a persevering Somerset attack. Craig Overton and Jack Brooks took three wickets apiece and Abell two. The holding role of the two spinners, Dom Bess and van der Merwe in bowling 38 overs between them for just 74 runs also played a part.

Davies and Abell made a steady start for Somerset, profiting from some loose bowling by Brookes. Hannon-Dalby posed more questions; but it was Brookes who removed Abell, bringing one back from outside off stump as the Somerset captain offered no shot.

Hannon-Dalby seems to have added a yard of pace since last year and it was no surprise when he trapped James Hildreth on the crease. What was surprising was when Babar Azam clipped his first ball from Hannon-Dalby to Brookes who took a good catch at mid-wicket. At 44-3, Somerset were in trouble.

Davies and Tom Banton worked hard to retrieve the position. George Garrett came on for his first spell in first-class cricket. With a lively run-up and a quick arm action, he achieved a good pace and troubled both batsmen.

After tea, Jeetan Patel added to the pressure on the batsmen, bowling a tight line and length. He achieved only minimal turn, even though he bowled with more revs than a Church of England diocese.

Davies reached an admirable fifty off 86 balls, seldom seeming in too much trouble. Banton on the other hand never really showed his range of attacking shots. When Will Rhodes came on as fifth bowler, he induced an edge to dismiss Banton for 23 of 68 balls.

Umpire Gould got on Rhodes’ case for following through down the pitch from round the wicket. Jeetan Patel, as captain and as bowler most likely to profit from any rough thus created did his best to argue Rhodes’ case.

George Bartlett added valuable late runs with Davies but was castled by a good length ball that gave George Garrett the first of what promises to be many first class wickets. The many congratulations offered by his colleagues showed how highly the young mani is regarded.

At 167-5, Somerset still have work to do to avoid the follow on.

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