Somerset v Yorkshire: Yorkshire warming to their task after fightback

THE COOPER Associates County Ground, to give it its correct corporate name, was a veritable sea of blankets and balaclavas.

Ben Coad returned match figures of 7-128 for Yorkshire in their County Championship match against Somerset at Taunton. Coad had begun the Championship season by taking 10-130 the previous week against Nottinghamshire (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

The hoods of jackets were turned up against the cold, biting wind as spectators shivered in the weather-beaten stands.

It was hardly a day for sitting outside, not even with a flask of piping hot tea, but no one wanted to make their way home.

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The cricket was much too intriguing for that, with the action warming a durable crowd.

On a day when low, thick cloud clung to the ground – although not to the extent that it obscured the Quantocks – around 1,500 hardy souls were rewarded with some fascinating play.

The third day had started with Somerset 6-0 in their second innings, 126 ahead, after they had scored 216 in their first innings before dismissing Yorkshire for 96.

As a brisk north-easterly whipped about the seating, Yorkshire soon reduced Somerset to 24-4 before the hosts hit back to reach 200, Ben Coad capturing four wickets and Jack Brooks three, Somerset captain Tom Abell top-scoring with 82.

It left Yorkshire 321 for victory (they have chased only seven higher totals in their history), and by stumps they had progressed to 49-1, setting up a fourth day that promises further fascination.

If Yorkshire were to claw their way back into the contest (and it was a long way back from 96 all-out), it was imperative that they had a good morning session.

Thanks largely to Coad and Brooks they had exactly that with the trend of tumbling wickets continuing after Somerset had – rather incongruously in the context of the match – reached 145-1 in their first innings.

Within six overs yesterday both openers had been sent back to the warmth of the pavilion (not the worse fate, perhaps), Coad having Marcus Trescothick caught at second slip by Adam Lyth and Brooks uprooting first-innings centurion Matt Renshaw’s off stump as he tried an expansive drive.

James Hildreth also had his off stump knocked out, this time by Brooks, before the scoreboard flashed up that hearty sight for Yorkshire of 24-4 when Coad had George Bartlett caught behind off an inside edge.

At that stage the hosts’ lead stood at 144 and murmurings of concern could be heard from The Sir Ian Botham Stand to The Andy Caddick Pavilion and all points surrounding.

But Yorkshire’s back-up bowling was not quite as threatening with Tim Bresnan and Matt Waite doing their level best as Brooks and Coad took a necessary breather.

In hindsight Yorkshire might perhaps not have played spinner Karl Carver in this game, seeing as he was not called on to bowl a single over in either innings, and instead picked another seamer in Josh Shaw, whom they left out.

Hindsight, of course, is a wonderful thing, but Yorkshire have not been helped by injuries to pace men Steve Patterson and Matthew Fisher, while Liam Plunkett and David Willey are away at the IPL.

Somerset rallied after those early wickets, Abell and Steven Davies adding 66 for the fifth-wicket in 19 overs to stabilise the innings.

During their stand, Abell was dropped on 24 by Andrew Hodd off the returning Coad, although it was an extremely tough one-handed chance as the wicketkeeper dived full-length to his right.

When Coad had a prodding Davies caught at first slip by Cheteshwar Pujara, Lewis Gregory got off the mark with a six over mid-wicket off Brooks.

But Gregory’s stay was short-lived, Somerset slipping to 107-6 when he inexplicably shouldered arms to Waite just before lunch and was lbw.

After the break another two catches went down, Jack Leaning dropping Craig Overton at third slip off Coad and the same fielder grassing Abell on 69 in the gully off Bresnan.

Leaning, however, should be forgiven the indiscretions; very often he is at the heart of some extremely reliable Yorkshire catching.

The reprieve of Overton cost only two runs, the pace bowler bowled by a good one from Brooks. After Abell went to his fifty from 103 balls, Somerset lost their eighth wicket when a driving Dom Bess was caught at second slip by Lyth off Waite, whom Abell then clipped for a big leg-side six.

Josh Davey lofted Bresnan to Gary Ballance at mid-off, and the innings ended when Abell was bowled swishing at Coad, who maintained his fine start to the season with match figures of 7-128 to follow his 10-130 last week against Nottinghamshire.

Yorkshire’s reply started well when Lyth caressed the second ball of the innings from Gregory to the cover boundary. Fellow opener Harry Brook also square-drove Gregory to the boundary in the opening over, but he fell for 15 when he reached to cover-drive a ball from Davey and edged to Trescothick at second slip.

Forty-six overs were left when Yorkshire began their chase, but only 24 were possible due to bad light.

Lyth (25) and Pujara (six) will resume in conditions for which blankets and balaclavas, fingers crossed, will not be required.