Lancashire on back foot as 22 wickets fall on day one in Somerset

Alex Davies was the only Lancashire player to reach 20
Alex Davies was the only Lancashire player to reach 20

Lewis Gregory’s third successive Specsavers County Championship half-century batted Somerset into a strong position as 22 wickets fell on the opening day against Lancashire at Taunton.

Lewis Gregory’s third successive Specsavers County Championship half-century batted Somerset into a strong position as 22 wickets fell on the opening day against Lancashire at Taunton.

Having won the toss, the visitors were skittled for just 99, left-arm spinner Jack Leach returning 5-28 and seamer Jamie Overton 3-32. Alex Davies top-scored with 20.

In reply, Somerset crashed to 104-8before Gregory, who finished unbeaten on 64, added 33 with Overton (24) and 55 with last man Leach, who contributed 17 before the hosts were bowled out from 192.

Another left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj, finished with 4- 65, while seamer Graham Onions returned -340.

Lancashire were left with six overs to face in their second innings and closed on 7-2, still trailing by 86, as Leach removed Davies and nightwatchman Matt Parkinson, without conceding a run.

The pitch offered turn from the moment Leach was introduced after 15 overs.

But as many wickets on both sides were down to poor shots as to problems with the surface.

There was no sign of the carnage ahead when Lancashire reached 47-1. Karl Brown had carelessly pulled a Gregory long hop to mid-wicket and when Steven Croft was stumped for 14 it signalled a dramatic change in fortunes.

Eight more wickets fell either side of lunch for the addition of only 52. Leach produced a beauty to have Dane Vilas caught behind for 11, but Liam Livingstone, and Davies followed Brown in departing to loose shots.

Leach got some deliveries to turn sharply, but at the other end it was seam bowling doing the damage, Overton yorking Onions and producing some pacy deliveries.

It was the same story when Somerset batted, Maharaj turning the ball from the same end as Leach after Onions had sent back Marcus Trescothick, Azhar Ali and James Hildreth, who at least made 32.

Maharaj ran through the middle order and Somerset were looking at a minimal lead at best until Gregory and Jamie Overton counter-attacked. Gregory faced 73 balls and hit three fours and three sixes to continue a golden run of form. .

Somerset ended the day with a great chance of the victory they need to maintain pressure on leaders Surrey, while Lancashire’s relegation fights shows no signs of easing.

But having had a pitch marked below average when they beat Middlesex in a key relegation battle at the end of last season, Somerset will be anxiously awaiting the report of ECB Cricket Liaison Officer Dean Cosker.