Somerset Captain Chris Rogers made a half century on day one of the Specsavers County Championship match against Middlesex at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Somerset were eventually bowled out for 236.
Having made a late decision to switch from a dry looking strip to a very green one, the hosts were indebted to Rogers (57), Jim Allenby (44) and Marcus Trescothick (35) for securing a bonus point in testing conditions.
Harry Podmore (four for 54), James Harris (three for 67) and James Fuller (three for 72) profited from excellent seam bowling conditions after the visitors had not surprisingly elected to field.
By the close of a rain-affected day, Middlesex had replied with 51 for one from 16 overs, losing Sam Robson lbw to the second ball of the innings from Craig Overton. Nick Gubbins was unbeaten on 31.
Somerset had put only six runs on the board when Johann Myburgh edged Fuller through to wicket-keeper John Simpson and departed for a duck. However, Rogers and Trescothick then produced the most positive strokeplay of the day, punishing anything loose in their second-wicket stand of 71. Trescothick looked at his imperious best as his first eight scoring strokes brought boundaries before he got an inside edge onto his stumps to give Harris his first wicket.
The Middlesex bowlers failed to make the most of the conditions in the morning session. James Hildreth hit a six over backward point off Fuller before being adjudged lbw for 19 to a delivery from the same bowler. Rogers moved to an attractive half-century off 68 balls, with 10 fours, and was still there at lunch with his side 125 for three off 27 overs.
Soon after the interval came the first rain break, with 30 minutes lost. When play resumed Middlesex bowled a better line and length, reaping the reward with four wickets. Rogers was caught by the diving Simpson leg-glancing a ball from Podmore, who had played in the competition only while on loan to Glamorgan earlier in the season. The 21-year-old followed up by having Peter Trego caught behind for four off a full, swinging delivery. It was soon 154 for six when Craig Overton fell for a duck, chasing a wide one from Harris and offering Simpson his fourth catch. Alex Barrow contributed ten before being caught at second slip by Ollie Rayner off Harris and when rain forced an early tea Somerset were 184 for seven.
The final session saw 27 runs added before Jamie Overton was caught at first slip aiming a full-blooded drive at Podmore. The players followed him off as rain brought a third interruption. All the time Allenby had been compiling a valuable knock and he had battled for 115 balls when he edged Podmore behind to give Simpson a fifth victim. Rayner then took a fine diving slip catch to dismiss Jack Leach for 12 as Fuller took a deserved third wicket.
After the match Chris Rogers said: “The best way for us to win this game is to back our seam attack against their slightly inexperienced attack. They didn’t bowl so well before lunch but then they came back afterwards and bowled really well. That is what I expect us to do and make it very hard for them.
“We didn’t bowl well this evening but if we do bowl well on that wicket then we can bowl them out for about 150. Its that kind of wicket.”
Was the skipper happy with a first innings total of 236? “I would have taken that before we started because there is 20 mm of grass on that wicket,” he said. “It’s sporting and there’s enough there for the bowlers if you put it in the right areas, so our chance is there tomorrow when we get the ball in our hands. I think we are in a pretty good position with runs on the board.”
Talking about the bowling this evening Chris said: “Without a doubt we missed an opportunity. I had a quick chat with the guys about it. These are the kind of wickets where the game can swing quickly and that’s the chance for us tomorrow.”