Another three wickets for Jack Leach plus Tom Abell giving a reminder of his immense promise were the highlights on day two of this Specsavers County Championship match at the Cooper Associates County Ground as Somerset responded positively to Hampshire’s first innings score of 338 .
Somerset’s 22-year-old opener hit 79 off 132 balls with 11 fours, sharing an opening stand of 87 with Marcus Trescothick who made 36 as the hosts closed on 257 for five.
Peter Trego contributed 42, James Hildreth 40 and Jim Allenby 37 not out, but none of the home batsmen were able to push on to the big score needed to establish control of the game.
Earlier, Leach had finished with six for 108 as Hampshire added 57 to their overnight score of 281 for 6, David Wainwright making a valuable 35 not out. The Somerset left-arm spinner now has 43 First Class wickets to his name this season.
The ball turned from ball one of the day, but more for the Somerset spinners, whose counterparts were unable to settle on the right pace to exploit the pitch to the full.
From an overnight 281 for six, the visitors slipped to 303 for nine before a valuable last-wicket stand of 35 between Brad Wheal and David Wainwright, who contributed 35 not out with the ball deviating considerably for Leach and fellow left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe (three for 99).
Leach sent back Lewis McManus (43), Mason Crane and Wheal. But Hampshire could feel satisfied with their efforts as both sides collected three bonus points from the innings.
Somerset were left with nine overs to bat before lunch and reached the interval on 40 without loss, Trescothick and Abell surviving comfortably against six overs of seam and three of spin.
Trescothick looked in little bother until trying to hit Wainwright over the top and falling to a catch at long-on. His disappointment was matched by that of Chris Rogers, who had made 11 when giving leg-spinner Mason Crane the charge and offering a leg-side stumping to McManus. Abell, who had reached his half-century off 67 balls with some handsome leg-side shots, profited from a couple of reverse sweeps as confidence grew, but then aimed a cross-batted paddle at Wainwright and departed lbw.
At tea the score was 170 for three. That became 183 for four when Hildreth, who was looking in good touch, swung across the line towards the short boundary on the town side of the ground and fell leg before to Will Smith. Trego and Allenby then added 69 for the fifth wicket before Trego hit a checked drive in the direction of mid-off where Smith took a tumbling catch.
Bad light and spitting rain brought play to a halt at 5.40pm. With the requisite number of overs already bowled, the umpires abandoned any hope of a resumption at 6pm.
After the close of play Tom Abell said: “The ball came off the bat better for me than it has lately. We said at the start of the day that when it came to our turn to bat we needed to try to get stuck in and take responsibility when we batted. There is definitely something in it for the spinners so we had to get stuck in and we are pretty happy at the end of the day with the position that we are in.
“I fed off the way that Tres started and it gave me the confidence to play my shots against the spinners. When the ball was new it came on quite nicely but there was a little bit more spin when it was harder which is what we found as well.”
“It was great to get off to a good start but then we lost a couple of quick wickets which was disappointing, but then towards the end the partnership between Jim and Tregs has put us back into a good position.
“If you had given us the score that we have ended with at the start of the day then I think that we would have settled for it. We like to think that we have got a lot of batting to come so hopefully we can take advantage of the situation and put them under pressure. We have got to make sure that tomorrow we apply ourselves, although it might be tricky early in the morning, so we have got to make sure that we get our heads down, apply ourselves correctly and look to bat as big as we can.”