Centurions come to the rescue after a bad start
SOMERSET, inspired by a couple of centurions with points to prove, recovered from a calamitous start at Taunton to make South Africa work hard on an eventful opening day of the tourists' English summer.
From 6-2 – both wickets coming courtesy of run-outs – and then 32-4, Somerset were saved by two middle-order maestros who have spent at least part of the summer kicking their heels on the sidelines after being dropped.
Pete Trego and James Hildreth have both been left out of Friends Life t20 group games in recent weeks – and, after Hildreth marked his recall with a century against Glamorgan, both he and Trego reached three figures when their side needed them to deliver yesterday.
Trego was the more flamboyant of the pair during their 183-run partnership that spanned 23.4 overs, reaching his fifty in 32 balls and his ton in 60 as he hit six fours off one Morne Morkel over. The 31-year-old hit 19 boundaries in total – 18 fours and a six – and it was fitting that his century came up with a straight, driven four off Morkel after the way his aggressive over earlier in the innings had turned things around for the home side.
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He eventually fell for 104, scored off 63 balls, when he was held by Jacques Kallis in the slips off Vernon Philander – but his efforts had at least ensured South Africa will leave Taunton this evening knowing they have been in a contest.
The man from Weston-super-Mare said: "I think maybe I fall foul of switching off sometimes. Some of my dismissals, with all due respect, are to bowlers of a lot less quality than I've put around the ground today. So that's something I obviously need to work on, because the run of low scores I've had is unacceptable for how I set my standards. Hopefully that's the boost I need to kick-start my batting season."
Hildreth also played a crucial role in taking Somerset from a crisis into a competition with a century of his own, scored in 124 balls and brought up with the fluency and range of shots that have become the 27-year-old's trademark. He scored 14 fours and a six – and, in the space of three deliveries, reached his ton, was dropped by Kallis in the slips and dismissed when he drove Lonwabo Tsotsobe to Hashim Amla at mid-off.
The duo, so used to batting together, were required to rescue their team after Arul Suppiah and Nick Compton were both run out for ducks in the opening four overs.
Alex Barrow then nicked a superb Dale Steyn delivery behind for 11, before Jos Buttler was bowled by Tsotsobe for 14. When Trego eventually fell, Somerset were 215-5 – and although Chris Jones (four), Hildreth (100) and Gemaal Hussain (two) soon departed, the latter in the bizarre incident that saw wicketkeeper Mark Boucher suffer a lacerated eyeball, Craig Meschede (50 not out) and Jack Leach (14 not out) put on 60 before Hildreth declared.
Jamie Overton had Jacques Rudolph caught behind for five by Alex Barrow, keeping wicket as Buttler rests a slight injury, before former Somerset skipper Smith pushed at a wonderful delivery from Hussain and was caught by Barrow for ten. Kallis was dropped by Hildreth on 23, before reaching 45 not out at the close, while Amla is unbeaten on 34 with the tourists 216 runs adrift.