An eighth-wicket stand of 171 between centurion Lewis Gregory and Roelof van der Merwe transformed the opening day of Somerset’s County Championship match with Hampshire at Taunton.
The first paying spectators at the Cooper Associates County Ground this season saw the hosts crash to 113 for seven after losing the toss, left-arm seamer Keith Barker claiming six of the wickets.
But Gregory, whose 107 featured 14 fours and 2 sixes, and van der Merwe (88) counter-attacked in thrilling fashion, staying together for 35 overs and helping Somerset recover to 360 all out.
Barker finished with six for 72 from 24 overs before bad light prevented Hampshire beginning their reply
The start of a riveting day saw Somerset plunge to 43 for five. Eddie Byrom was bowled by Barker without scoring and the only runs in the first seven overs were a boundary from Steve Davies.
It was 20 for two when Tom Abell edged Barker to Liam Dawson at second slip and 26 for three as James Hildreth nicked the inspired bowler through to wicketkeeper Lewis McManus.
George Bartlett fell lbw for a duck shouldering arms and Barker finished his initial nine-over spell from the River End with figures of four for seven, reward for swing and nagging accuracy.
When Brad Wheal had Lewis Goldsworthy caught behind, Somerset’s innings was in disarray. But Davies was 36 not out by lunch, having added 35 with Tom Banton, himself going well on 26.
They took the total to 108 before the impressive Banton was bowled for 45, attempting to drive Barker.
Davies, on 47, edged a third catch to McManus, having faced 102 balls and hit 7 fours, and Somerset were 113 for seven, with Barker's figures six for 23.
Gregory and van der Merwe reacted to the crisis with an array of boundaries all around the wicket.
Gregory was first to fifty, off 53 balls, with 8 fours, while van der Merwe took only two deliveries more over his half-century.
It featured two sixes and six fours. Soon the 36-year-old all-rounder was celebrating a third maximum, clearing the ropes over long -off with a lofted drive off Felix Organ.
Tea was taken at 232 for seven before Gregory notched his first six, launching Barker over long-on.
At 244 for seven, there was a brief break for bad light. Gregory and van der Merwe then resumed their onslaught until the latter called for a quick single to cover and was run out by Wheal’s direct hit at the bowler’s end.
Gregory reached his hundred with a pulled boundary off Kyle Abott, having faced 135 balls, before falling to the same bowler.
Marchant de Lange, with two big sixes, and Josh Davey saw Somerset to a fourth batting point.
Lewis McManus led a determined Hampshire fightback on the second day of the County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton.
The wicketkeeper walked to the crease with his side 110 for five and trailing by 250 on first innings before contributing 91 not out, off 160 balls, with 12 fours, and helping them close on 285 for seven.
Sam Northeast made 67, while a disciplined Somerset bowling performance brought three wickets for Josh Davey and two each for Marchant de Lange and Tom Abell.
A day of glorious sunshine at the Cooper Associates County Ground began with Hampshire starting their reply to Somerset’s 360.
Openers Ian Holland and Cameron Steel had taken the score to 15 when Holland was brilliantly caught by Roelof van der Merwe, diving to his right at fourth slip off Davey.
Tom Alsop and Steel carefully doubled the score before de Lange struck twice in the 14th over.
The first ball saw Alsop taken at third slip by the diving Abell, while the final delivery accounted for Steel, caught and bowled failing to cope with some extra bounce.
James Vince and Northeast needed patience in building from 31 for three and were offered little by a miserly home seam attack. Vince briefly cut loose in the 25th over, pulling a four and a six off Abell.
At lunch, the scoreboard read 67 for three off 29 overs. The afternoon session began with Northeast and Vince gradually extending their stand to 66.
Then Vince, on 29, cut a ball from Davey to backward point where Kasey Aldridge, fielding substitute for the injured Lewis Goldsworthy, took a sharp catch above his head.
Liam Dawson edged a low catch to James Hildreth at first slip off Abell and Somerset looked in command.
Northeast went to his half-century off 110 balls, with 10 fours. But, with the total on 148, he top-edged an attempted pull off Abell and skied a catch to wicketkeeper Steve Davies.
By tea, Hampshire had struggled to 157 for six and still required 54 runs to avoid the possibility of following-on.
That prospect was dispelled by McManus and Keith Barker with a stand of 87, compiled with the most positive batting of the day.
Left-hander Barker contributed a valuable 33, but it was McManus, punishing anything loose, who produced most attractive innings.
The wicketkeeper went to fifty with a reverse sweep for four off van der Merwe, a boundary which also took Hampshire past the follow-on figure of 211.
Davey struck again on the fifth over with the second new ball when Barker was caught at second slip.
But McManus found the harder cherry to his liking and collected several crisp boundaries as he and Felix Organ (21 not out) saw Hampshire to the close.
Tom Abell fell two short of a century as Somerset built a commanding lead on the third day of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Hampshire at Taunton.
Having bowled out their opponents for 311 from an overnight 285 for seven, Josh Davey finishing with five for 78, the home side rammed home their 49-run first innings lead by posting 323 for six.
Skipper Abell led from the front, striking 15 fours in his 155-ball innings, well supported by Steve Davies 82, George Bartlett 74 not out and Lewis Goldsworthy 36.
Off-spinner Felix Organ was the most successful Hampshire bowler with three for 115, but his side face a tricky last day, trailing by 372.
Play began with the visitors eager to close in on Somerset’s first innings total of 360 and Lewis McManus unbeaten on 91.
His hopes of a century were dashed in the opening over when edging the first ball he received from Davey to Abell at third slip.
Organ followed in the next over for 26, lbw to Lewis Gregory, and it took a last-wicket stand of 19 between Kyle Abbott and Brad Wheal to earn Hampshire a third batting point.
Somerset suffered an early setback when looking to build on their advantage as Eddie Byrom was caught behind off Abbott.
But when Organ spilled a straightforward chance at fine leg, offered by Davies off Keith Barker, Hampshire were unable to build of their initial breakthrough.
Davies and Abell took the total to 59 at lunch and both flourished in the afternoon session.
The experienced Davies justified his promotion to opener with 9 fours in his half-century and the hundred partnership was brought up off just 131 balls.
Abell produced some classic cover drives in moving to fifty off 71 balls, also with nine boundaries, and it came as a surprise when Organ broke the stand of 139 with the score on 152.
Davies had just connected sweetly with a swept four when trying to repeat the shot and falling lbw, having faced 97 balls and extended his boundary count to 13 fours and a six.
James Hildreth could contribute only 13 before chipping a return catch to Organ, who struck again just before tea.
Abell had progressed stylishly towards what was looking an inevitable hundred when bowled off an inside edge.
At the interval, Somerset were 208 for four. The final session saw 23-year-old Bartlett and Goldsworthy, who is just 20, display their burgeoning talents.
Bartlett timed the ball sweetly from the start and hit 6 fours and a six in an attractive 71-ball half-century.
The diminutive Goldsworthy lost little by comparison and, while he and nightwatchman Davey fell at the end of the day, the fifth-wicket stand of 108 strengthened Somerset’s grip.
Somerset opened up a ten-point lead at the top of Group Two when their LV=Insurance County Championship game with Hampshire at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, ended in a draw
Set an unlikely 459 to win from a minimum of 75 overs, the visitors closed a final day curtailed by afternoon rain on 88 for two, with Tom Alsop unbeaten on 23 and Sam Northeast 19 not out.
Earlier, George Bartlett had completed a fluent hundred, including 11 fours and 2 sixes, and Tom Banton contributed an unbeaten 51 as Somerset extended their second innings score from an overnight 323 for six to 409 for seven before declaring.
The home side took 15 points from the game to overtake arch-rivals Gloucestershire at the top of the group, while Hampshire claimed 14 and lie close up in third place.
Clearly feeling a draw would be more than satisfactory outcome in their position, Somerset batted on for 75 minutes at the start of the day.
Bartlett and Banton began cautiously, scoring only 14 runs between them in the first half hour before both cutting loose.
Banton moved to a 54-ball half-century with a six over mid-wicket off Ian Holland, the second time he had cleared the ropes.
Bartlett, unbeaten on 74 overnight, accelerated towards an assured century and reached it off 160 deliveries. When he skied a catch off the first ball of the following over, it signalled the declaration.
Holland and Cameron Steel began Hampshire’s second innings positively. But their hopes of batting through the remainder for the morning session were scuppered when Steel fell lbw for 14, playing across a delivery from Lewis Gregory.
Lunch was taken at that point with the scoreboard reading 30 for one. That became 39 for two when Holland, already dropped by Tom Abell at third slip off Davey, was bowled pushing forward to Gregory.
Northeast survived a tougher chance to Abell off the unlucky Davey, having made only four.
But from then on Northeast and Alsop batted solidly, overcoming a pacey spell from the River End by Marchant de Lange, including several bouncers.
The pair had added 49 when what started as light rain at shortly before 3.20pm quickly developed into a downpour.
Umpires Steve O’Shaugnessy and Peter Hartley ruled that play could restart at 5.05pm after an inspection.
But by then the 41.4 overs originally remaining in the game had been reduced to 19.4 and the captains decided to shake hands on a draw without further play.