Three wickets from Jack Leach for Somerset and a century from Hampshire’s Sean Ervine were the highlights on day one of this Specsavers County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Hampshire had reached 281 for six at the close of play.
Ervine walked out to the middle when his side lost their first wicket in the fourth over of the morning. By the time he departed for 103 more than 80 overs later he had seen Hampshire to within sight of posting a competitive total. Ryan McLaren helped add 112 for the fifth wicket but Leach was the pick of the home attack with three for 77 off 30 overs whilst fellow left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe ended with two for 81 off 25.
Hampshire opted to bat first on a wicket with green tinges, a decision they might have doubted when Somerset opening bowler Lewis Gregory made an early breakthrough as Jimmy Adams played inside a good length ball with the score on 16.
Somerset introduced spin well before noon, with their leading wicket taker Leach and van der Merwe coming into the attack. The latter was rewarded with his fifth ball when he bowled Will Smith for 16 with a delivery that clipped leg stump. James Vince, returning from England duty, was bowled without scoring by Leach with a ball that pitched on leg, but took middle stump.
Van der Merwe claimed a second wicket just before lunch when he accounted for Adam Wheater, lbw playing back to a full ball, for 21 which made the total 92 for four.
If the morning belonged to the home side then Hampshire spent the second session playing themselves back into the game. Ervine, unbeaten on 39 at the break, went to his half-century when he turned Gregory off his legs to square leg.
McLaren kept Ervine company and together the pair resisted the considerable pressure from the Somerset attack. McLaren went to his half-century with a boundary through the covers off Jim Allenby. The stand ended when McLaren was well caught by Tom Abell off Leach, with the total on 210.
Ervine continued to move closer to his century, which he reached when he clipped Gregory behind square leg for two, his runs coming off 200 balls with 10 fours.
The new ball was only five overs old when Leach was brought back on and with his fourth delivery he had Ervine trapped leg before to end a fine innings.
Hampshire wicketkeeper Lewis McManus and Gareth Berg then remained together to see their side through to the close, by which time McManus was unbeaten on 41 and Berg was not out 12.
Jack Leach who bowled 30 overs on the opening day of the game said afterwards: “It was a tough day and I bowled a lot of overs and was feeling it by the end. It’s been tough, but it was good to be able to bowl so much.”
“There were some pretty good deliveries in my first spell which was a bit weird because then the ball got quite soft and it didn’t spin as much and was different from the start of the morning. Then it started to do a bit more with the second new ball.”
“McLaren and Ervine batted really well. It was a case of keeping going and keeping them as dry as possible through that period when there weren’t so many wicket taking deliveries. You had to stick in there and be a bit more patient which is what we tried to do, but they batted well so fair play to them.”
“If we can get a couple of quick wickets in the morning and get into their tail then we can bowl them out early and bat big.”