A 348-minute vigil from James Bracey kept Somerset at bay for most of day two at the Cooper Associates County Ground. He was out for 118 just nine overs from the close, as Gloucestershire finished 301-8.
Lewis Gregory really struggled for rhythm early on from the Marcus Edward Trescothick Pavilion end. After a top edged four from an attempted Chris Dent pull shot, he tried this ploy again twice more, only to be greeted by two further pull shots for four. Dent raced up to 34 of the 55 his side had on the board.
Ryan Higgins said in his press conference last night how impressively late Kraigg Brathwaite played the ball, but this was taken to an extreme today, playing too late and missing a nip-backer from Craig Overton when 18-cue the slowest trudge off I have seen this year.
It was not until bang on noon that overseas signing Marchant De Lange was first called upon by Tom Abell from the River End. But the short balls from Somerset just kept coming and Dent kept dispatching them for 4. His third half-century in as many innings was reached from 70 balls.
De Lange only bowled two overs before Jack Leach was called upon from the River End. Leach, who added the accolade of being the Englishman with the most test wickets ever taken in Sri Lanka to his increasingly impressive CV in recent months.
But it was the former Glamorgan paceman who got the key breakthrough, Dent caught behind for 50 as De Lange bowled a hostile spell from the MET Pavilion End.
Having conceded just five runs in six overs before lunch, Leach resumed straight after the interval, tying up one end whilst wickets fell at the other. The rest of the time he was fielding with his left hand always covered in his long sweater, and his right hand just peering out of the mass of wool from his third sweater.
Overton grabbed two more in quick succession as Tom Laced the cover off one to cover, then Graeme van Buuren fell 106 short of his second innings score last week, caught by Lewis Gregory at second slip.
One other England hopeful who seemed to be able to cope with the man who has Steve Smith as his maiden test wicket, was James Bracey, who stood firm against all six of Somerset’s bowlers.
The two Georges fell either side of tea; Hankins to De Lange, then Scott to Gregory, under floodlights, just before 5pm.
Bracey’s ton came up with a tickle to fine leg off Josh Davey. It took him 208 balls, and the Somerset bowlers are bound to feel all 208 of them come Sunday afternoon.
Bracey’s stoic resistance was finally ended at 18.15 when Gregory induced the edge, Hildreth took the catch. Matt Taylor (not the former Porstmouth or Exeter City footballer) let the shackles go a little once David Payne joined him, with just two wickets left, and soon surpassed his previous career best of 48 v Glamorgan at Bristol in 2018.
But when close came near they simply saw out the final knockings of a very long, 100 over day (four more than normal because of the funeral delay tmrw).
Payne 9* and Taylor 53* seeing Gloucestershire through to a third batting point at 301-8.
Remember, the last time these teams met at Taunton in first-class cricket Gloucestershire were skittled for 76 and 70. And Gloucestershire have not won their first two Championship matches since 1931 and have not won a Championship match at Taunton since 1993.
So whatever happens on days three and four Gloucestershire should be proud that they have by far outperformed any even relatively recent previous visits already.