Somerset on top but it is slow going
By Western Daily Press | Thursday, September 12, 2013, 05:00
Somerset edged the opening day of their relegation tussle with Surrey at Taunton – moving to within one wicket of maximum bowling points in a game they realistically cannot afford to lose.
Somerset bowler Craig Meschede celebrates taking the wicket of Dominic Sibley PICTURE: FRAN STOTHARD
However, a late rally from the visitors – before bad light and rain brought an early close to proceedings – has set up an intriguing match in the LV= County Championship basement battle.
Surrey finished day one on 195 for eight, with no batsman contributing more than 39, as their top four – including Hashim Amla – mustered only 45 runs between them.
Craig Meschede dismissed Amla – who had only just returned to England from an awards dinner in South Africa – for a duck to add to his impressive list of first-class wickets as Somerset enjoyed an excellent morning.
From 61 for four at lunch, slow-scoring Surrey rallied in the final two sessions, and will resume today with Stuart Meaker unbeaten on 30 and Chris Tremlett on one not out.
Defeat to Derbyshire last week has given Somerset little room for error in their final two matches – here against Surrey and at Nottinghamshire on September 24-27 – while their embarrassing YB40 semi-final loss at Trent Bridge on Monday saw another chance of silverware pass them by.
But they showed discipline and character against bottom-of-the-table Surrey, with Meschede taking three for 37, Thomas two for 23, and none of their seamers conceding more than 2.7 runs an over.
Lewis Gregory had a vociferous appeal for lbw against debutant Dominic Sibley turned down in his first over – the second of the day – as Surrey made a serene start, reaching 31 for no wicket in the 15th over.
But, with the score on 31, Somerset struck three times. Sibley – who was born in 1995, the same year team-mate Vikram Solanki made his first-class debut – was dismissed for ten to become the first of Meschede's victims. The 18-year-old was out lbw, playing across the line off the back foot.
If Meschede's first wicket was that of a relatively unknown youngster, just making his way in the game, his second was rather different. Amla, the world's number one batsman, joined Meschede's illustrious list of scalps – that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Clarke and Shivnarine Chanderpaul – as he was dismissed without scoring.
Amla tried to tickle one down the leg side but was caught behind by Craig Kieswetter – the key wicket lifting Somerset's players.
Rory Burns was the next to fall, having scored 21, when he pushed forward to Alfonso Thomas, got an outside edge and was held by the athletic Kieswetter, who dived across first and second slips to take the catch. From 31 for none, Surrey slid to 31 for three.
They lost Solanki on the cusp of lunch, when he was lbw pushing forward to a quicker ball from leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for 14. After lunch, former Somerset man Zander de Bruyn became Meschede's third victim when he was lbw, tentatively pushing forward to one that cut back in to him, for 30, leaving Surrey 81 for five.
Not that it ultimately did them much good, but Surrey's approach was ultra-cautious. When Zafar Ansari came in at number seven, it took him 42 balls to get off the mark. He eventually managed eight, scored from 70 deliveries, before being tempted into playing at one outside off stump from Pete Trego and edging behind.
Trego's first wicket of the match brought Gareth Batty to the middle. And, if Batty had wondered how he would be received by the Somerset supporters – following the spat with Trego in the Friends Life t20 quarter-final that earned the Surrey captain a ban from finals day – he soon had his answer.
Batty was booed all the way to the middle – and then, having got there, had to duck the second ball he faced from Trego as the Somerset man brought out the bouncer.
By the tea interval, Surrey had reached 124 for six – rarely can a team have scored quite so slowly in a first-class match at Taunton.
But Batty was still there, along with Steven Davies, who was eventually caught at short leg by Alex Barrow off Chawla for 38.
Some of Somerset's early initiative was taken away by Batty's 64-run stand with Meaker for the eighth wicket, which fell when the pantomime villain was dismissed by Thomas for 39 off the final delivery with the old ball. Thomas sent down a bouncer, and Batty was only able to find Chris Jones at deep midwicket with a top-edged pull.
At the end of the following over, at 4.35pm, the umpires took the players off for bad light – and then a downpour ensured there was no further play on day one.