Yorkshire, hot on the trail of a third consecutive Specsavers County Championship title, were jolted and given a bumpy ride by challengers, Somerset, on the first day of the match at Headingley.
Winning the toss, Yorkshire were bowled out for 145 in 61.2 overs, their lowest first innings score since making 136 against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, in May, 2014. With 34 overs to bat until the close, third-placed Somerset had reached 107 for one to keep alive their own Championship ambitions when bad light ended play with seven overs remaining.
Craig Overton with the new ball and Jim Allenby led a Somerset attack which exploited the swing conditions to the full, aided by the downfall of several batsmen to some lazy strokes. Overton, who claimed the first two wickets to fall at a cost of three runs, finished with three for 32 off 15 overs, while Allenby’s figures were even more impressive – three for 16 off 15 overs, eight of which were maidens.
Yorkshire made two changes from the side which thrashed Durham at the same venue last week, Adil Rashid replacing Azeem Rafiq and Liam Plunkett coming in for Steven Patterson, who will not play again this season because of his father’s serious illness.
It is quite fitting that Yorkshire and Somerset should lock horns this week because it will be a year tomorrow (Wednesday) that Brian Close died and he would have been proud that the two county sides he captained should be involved in such a significant battle in mid-September.
However, he would have been unhappy with the constant procession of Yorkshire batsmen back to the pavilion, starting with Overton’s first over dismissal of Alex Lees who edged to Allenby at first slip. Gary Ballance guided Overton into Lewis Gregory’s hands at third slip, the fielder first losing his grip on the ball and then managing to grasp it near his ankles, and after Adam Lyth had spent 44 deliveries compiling 14 he pushed at Allenby and was caught behind.
Jake Lehmann would have gone for a duck if Gregory had not floored this latest chance, off Tim Groenewald, and the Australian and captain, Andrew Gale, threatened to repair the early damage with some attacking strokes, Lehmann taking revenge over Groenewald with three consecutive boundaries. However, Lehmann, having reached 31 with six fours, was too impetuous in the over before lunch and in attempting to pull Peter Trego he popped up a catch to James Hildreth at mid-wicket.
Swing was even more pronounced after the interval and Yorkshire could not cope with it. Gale cut weakly at Overton for Ryan Davies to hold his second catch behind the stumps and Rashid hung out his bat to nick Allenby to first slip. Andrew Hodd received perhaps the best ball of the day which flicked his off-bail, Plunkett swished at Allenby and was caught at first slip, and Jack Brooks lost his middle stump to Groenewald.
Only Tim Bresnan held firm, as he has so often done this summer, and when Ryan Sidebottom was last out to Gregory, the all-rounder had made his side’s top score of 38 from 65 balls with five fours.
There was brief joy for the home fans when Somerset replied and Tom Abell fell lbw to Brooks before a run was on the board, but Trescothick and Rogers kept pace with each other as they coped with both the conditions and Yorkshire’s attack.
Trescothick got things moving with three successive boundaries off Brooks but it was Rogers who was first to the half-century mark with an edged four off Plunkett which evaded Bresnan at first slip to bring him his seventh boundary and raise the century stand for the second wicket.
Rogers had gone on to 58 from 79 balls with eight fours and Trescothick was 45 from 81 deliveries with a similar number of boundaries when bad light came to Yorkshire’s aid.
Somerset bowling coach, Jason Kerr, said: “It was a good day for Somerset to bowl out the county champions for 145 and I am proud of the whole team. I thought the standard of fielding was outstanding and gave support to our bowlers who got their rewards for utilising conditions perfectly.”
“We have out-bowled Yorkshire on Day one and have put the ball in the right areas and if you do that it doesn’t matter who you are playing.
“There was something in the surface earlier and conditions played a part but Craig Overton and Jim Allenby were outstanding and so were Marcus Trescothick and Chris Rogers when we went in to bat. Statistically, Craig is not having his best season but he has not had much luck and today he bowled outstandingly well.
“There is no pressure on us, we are chasing the guys ahead of us and we have nothing to lose.”