Inexperienced attack exposed by Lancashire
THE paucity of the bowling resources available to Somerset was exposed by a ruthless and revitalised Lancashire on a day of frustration for the hosts at Taunton.
Somerset – missing the injured Steve Kirby, Gemaal Hussain and Adam Dibble, not to mention Alfonso Thomas, who is at the Indian Premier League – spent most of the day chasing leather in the field as Lancashire reached 363-4 by the close.
With their bowling options so limited, Somerset are understood to be ready to explore the loan market to bolster their attack once this match is over – but for the next three days at least they must make the most of their depleted resources.
Lancashire won the LV= County Championship at Taunton last September – and, after opening the new season with back-to-back defeats, the County Ground again proved a home from home as Ashwell Prince and Steven Croft dominated.
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Croft, who reached 113 not out, became the first Lancashire player this season to score a century, as he and Prince added 208 runs for the fourth wicket before the South African, who had scored 96, became Craig Overton's maiden victim in first-class cricket.
Stand-in Somerset captain James Hildreth used six different bowlers in a variety of combinations – and, short of attempting a rain-dance, experimented with most of the options available to him, only for his attack's inexperience to be cruelly exposed.
"Vern and Tregs bowled quite nicely most of the day, we just let ourselves down a bit (in terms of our) back-up bowlers – and that's an area we need to improve," said Hildreth.
"We had pretty simple game-plans out there but, unfortunately, we didn't execute those. But this is first-class cricket and we've got to stand up and everyone's got to be accountable – we've got to go out there and improve in the morning.
"You've got to remember that we've got a lot of inexperienced players – one guy is a debutant and some others haven't played a lot of first-class cricket. You have to take that into consideration.
"But they're going to have to stand up. They've played for the second team a fair bit, but maybe not had a lot of pressure on them – but we've got a few injuries and now is their chance to play for us.
"We can't carry anyone – we need everyone to pull together and execute their skills and bowl well. Although they're new, they need to come in and show their worth straightaway."
Despite having an average age of 19, Somerset quartet George Dockrell, Craig Meschede, Lewis Gregory and first-class debutant Overton – picked ahead of twin brother Jamie – were asked to bowl 47 of their side's 86 overs.
Overton and Gregory claimed a wicket apiece, as did the more experienced Vernon Philander and Pete Trego, but Somerset struggled for lengthy periods of the day and Lancashire were in no mood to pass up the opportunity to score at more than four an over.
The visitors' decision to bat upon winning the toss certainly looked questionable when Philander trapped Paul Horton for two to the fifth ball of the day – but Stephen Moore and Karl Brown gave Lancashire momentum with a 95-run partnership for the second wicket.
Their stand was eventually ended by Gregory, who had Brown leg-before-wicket for 50 – and Somerset appeared to have taken the initiative when Trego struck with the first ball after lunch.
He had Moore lbw for 47 as he played a forward defensive – and then set up an opportunity for Hildreth to remove Prince on seven, only for the acting skipper to drop a difficult chance in the slips.
"It just carried – and Tregs has reminded me of that a few times," said Hildreth.
That would have made it 120-4 – but instead Prince and Croft went after Somerset's young attack, who bowled far too many short and no-balls, and it eventually took Overton to break the stand.
He tempted Prince to pull to Nick Compton at short midwicket, four shy of a century, but the damage had been long been done.
When Prince's wicket fell, Lancashire were 326-4 – and Croft, who is ten runs short of a new career-best, and Gareth Cross (20 not out) will resume their 37-run partnership this morning.
Gloucestershire awarded caps to three new players ahead of the LV= County Championship Division Two match against Glamorgan in Bristol.
Batsmen Dan Housego and Benny Howell and seam bowler Paul Muchall all received their caps from club president David Allen.
Fast bowler David Wade, who is included in Gloucestershire's 12-man squad, will follow suit if he makes his first class debut today.
He was kept waiting yesterday by the rain which ensured the first day was washed out.