Somerset v Yorkshire: Ryan Sidebottom strikes late on to keep Yorkshire in contention

LEADING THE WAY: Andrew Hodd top-scored for the visitors at Taunton with 59. Picture by Allan McKenzie/
LEADING THE WAY: Andrew Hodd top-scored for the visitors at Taunton with 59. Picture by Allan McKenzie/
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IT IS nine years since Yorkshire won a County Championship match at Taunton.

Three defeats and four draws later, they will have hopes of ending that sequence after a fascinating first day at the County Ground.

Bowled out for 202 after winning the toss, their lowest first innings score of the season, and their lowest since they were dismissed for 145 by Somerset at Headingley in the penultimate match of last summer, things did not look too good for Yorkshire initially as they collapsed from 82-2 after lunch.

But Somerset, who are still seeking their first Championship victory of the season at the sixth attempt, staggered to 41-3 in reply as Ryan Sidebottom captured all three wickets in an electrifying spell from the Pavilion End.

The 39-year-old, in his final season, proved that he has lost none of his skill or competitive edge in a virtuoso display.

First, he had Dean Elgar caught in the gully by Alex Lees. Then, he persuaded Tom Abell to edge behind for a second-ball duck before claiming the key wicket of Marcus Trescothick, bowled aiming a loose drive.

Yorkshire's Ryan Sidebottom took three early wickets at Taunton. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Yorkshire's Ryan Sidebottom took three early wickets at Taunton. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

On the same pitch used for Somerset’s last home game against Hampshire, on which 30 of the 40 wickets fell to spin, Yorkshire started the match well.

As grey cloud clung to the Quantocks in the distance, Adam Lyth picked up from where he left off in the previous match against Lancashire at Headingley, when he made his first Championship century of the season.

Lyth has a particularly fine record at Taunton.

Going into this game, he had scored 824 runs in seven Championship matches there at an average of 63.38, with three hundreds and five fifties.

The left-hander took two fours off the opening over of the match, bowled by Lewis Gregory, square-driving the first ball to the boundary and then bisecting the slips and gully with the fifth delivery.

Gregory also conceded four leg-byes in the over as Yorkshire made a start that would be considered rapid in a T20 game.

But Somerset dragged things back with some accurate bowling, Gregory and fellow new-ball partner Craig Overton at one point sharing five maidens.

That Somerset expected the pitch to turn was emphasised when 19-year-old off-spinner Dom Bess was introduced for the 12th over.

Eleven runs came from it as Lyth welcomed him with a cover-driven four before plonking him for six over long-off towards The Sir Ian Botham Stand.

But with the total on 34 in the 13th over, Lyth steered a ball from Jamie Overton straight into the hands of Gregory at gully.

Thus a threatening innings was curtailed at 24, and fellow opener Lees fell without addition to the score when he drove Bess to cover, where Abell took the catch, diving to his left.

Peter Handscomb and Gary Ballance steadied the ship to take Yorkshire into lunch at 79-2, Ballance continuing his fine form by late-cutting Bess to the boundary and then cutting Gregory to the backward-point rope.

Handscomb found the boundary four times, but it was tough going for the Yorkshire pair.

Although conditions were never easy for strokeplay, no one expected Yorkshire to lose four wickets for 13 runs in six overs after lunch.

Ballance tried to sweep the left-arm spin of Jack Leach and was bowled around his legs; Handscomb was perhaps harshly adjudged lbw to Jamie Overton; Jack Leaning top-edged an attempted pull off Jamie Overton to his brother at backward square-leg, and Matthew Waite was caught at slip by Trescothick pushing forward at a ball from Leach.

It was Waite’s maiden first-class innings, the 21-year-old drafted in as Tim Bresnan is unavailable for this game due to the impending birth of his third child.

Yorkshire fell to 134-7 when Azeem Rafiq was bowled by Craig Overton, but Andrew Hodd counter-attacked well, dancing down the track to deposit Leach for a straight six and then whipping Gregory for four off his pads.

He lost Steve Patterson with the total on 152, when he was bowled by Gregory, with Patterson preferred to Jack Brooks and recalled to the team as Ben Coad is suffering from sore shins.

Hodd advanced to his third half-century in his last four Championship innings at Taunton, made from 55 balls with 10 boundaries.

Hodd is a handy cricketer at the best of times, and he had reached the top score of 59 when he belted Gregory to Abell at mid-off.

At that stage, Yorkshire were 171-9, but Karl Carver and Sidebottom helped them to 200 and a potentially important batting point.

The 10th-wicket pair held out for 18.1 overs before Carver fell in the second over after tea, lbw to a ball from Bess that looked to be drifting down.