Half-centuries for Josh Bohannon, Steven Croft and Tom Bailey as Somerset use seven bowlers
Lancashire 364 for 8 (Wells 103, Croft 70, Bailey 54*, Bohannon 50) vs Somerset
That last statistic is suggestive of more than the quality of the Lancashire batter’s strokeplay in reaching three figures for the first time since April 2018, when he was a Sussex cricketer. For one thing it says something about the pace of this Taunton pitch; for another it reflects the fatal generosity of Tom Abell’s attack in serving up long half-volleys and wide long hops. Indeed, Somerset’s captain was more munificent than any of his colleagues, albeit that his snaring of Wells was the first of his three successes in eight balls. Balanced against his removal of Josh Bohannon, caught by Leonard for 50 when fielding at a deep, very backward point position that defies conventional naming, and his dismissal of Rob Jones, also taken by Hildreth at slip, must be placed the bleak statistic that Abell’s seven overs cost 63 runs.
The failure of the home attack to hit a consistent line and length on a wicket that will reward such virtues – the skipper used six seamers inside the first 24 overs of the game – explains why Lancashire fairly scampered to 127 for 2 in the first session. It also shows how grievously Somerset are missing three injured bowlers. Lewis Gregory will not bowl again this season, Craig Overton has a rib problem, and Josh Davey was ruled out just before the game with a sore groin. The seven members of Abell’s attack – three of them proper allrounders – have now played 48 games this season yet have only 52 wickets between them.
It is hard at such times to recall that a fortnight ago Abell’s team were second in Division One and the regulars in the Ondaatje Stand were wondering if this might be their season. They have pondered such delicious possibilities in several Septembers this century and you may be sure such thoughts will cross their minds afresh next April. Cricket matters more in Taunton than it does in any other town in England except Scarborough in festival week. The close-season carveries in the Colin Atkinson pavilion begin again on October 10.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications