Tom Abell hit a career best 135 as Somerset closed on 339 for seven on day one of the the Specsavers County Championship match against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford.
However, Lancashire seamer Tom Bailey took four wickets in seven deliveries with the second new ball to get the home side back in the game.
Until Bailey made his dramatic intervention deep in the evening session, Lancashire had been on the receiving end of an Abell master-class as Somerset progressed smoothly to 267 for two.
Then Bailey had both James Hildreth and Jim Allenby caught by Alviro Petersen at second slip before cramping Abell for room and having the 22-year-old caught behind by Steven Croft. Lewis Gregory was lbw to his first ball and there was even time in the same dramatic over for Craig Overton to be dropped by Toby Lester, the missed chance denying Bailey his hat-trick in his first game since the Roses match in early June.
Bailey’s three wickets in the over transformed the atmosphere at Emirates Old Trafford and Kyle Jarvis added to the home supporters’ unexpected pleasure when he bowled Overton for nine. At that point Somerset had lost five wickets for 20 runs but by the close the visitors were 339 for seven.
An unbroken 52-run stand between Peter Trego and Ryan Davies was another highlight for Somerset, Trego hitting nine fours in his important 49 not out.
After losing the toss and being asked to bat Somerset enjoyed the best of things. During the opening session which was twice interrupted by rain but ended in bright sunshine with the visitors on 69 for no wicket. Marcus Trescothick reached a thousand Championship runs for the season when he cut Toby Lester for four in the 13th over and was 37 not out at lunch with Abell was unbeaten on 32.
In the afternoon session Somerset progressed to 182 for one with the only wicket to fall being that of Trescothick who pulled Jordan Clark straight to backward square leg when he had made 60 off 109 balls, only to see Simon Kerrigan take a quite brilliant two-handed catch above his head.
That wicket ended the opening stand of 134 but when the players returned to the pavilion for tea there were still 39 overs left in the day and Abell was unbeaten on 97 and his skipper, Chris Rogers, was on 24 not out.
Abell reached his century, the third of his career, with a straight drive off Luke Procter in the second over after tea. He reached three figures off 185 balls, having his 16 boundaries, most of them of the highest class. Somerset’s dominance seemed set to continue, even after Rogers was caught down the leg side by Croft off Jordan Clark for 47, thus ending his 93-run stand with Abell.
Tom Abell was a very happy young man at the end of the day. “It feels pretty nice to have scored my best ever score for Somerset today, especially here. Initially it was pretty tough because the weather was quite overcast and a bit gloomy so I felt that there was definitely a little bit in it for the bowlers.
“It was hard work at the start of the innings but Marus got us off to a decent start and took the pressure off me a little bit and I was then able to find my feet which was pretty nice. At the end of the day we are pretty happy to be in the position that we are in. We had a little bit of a blip towards the end of the day losing a few quick wickets, but the way that Tregs played later on has put us back into a decent position.
“If we have a good morning session and edge past 350 towards 400 I think we will be in a good place. There was definitely something in it with the new ball when they bowled with the second one this evening which put us under a lot of pressure. I don’t see any reason why we can’t do the same when they come to bat. There wasn’t too much spin out there today but Leachy has done really well on wickets that haven’t always spun too much so it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.”