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George shows his class as Somerset end day one on top

A sublime century from George Bartlett transformed Somerset’s fortunes on a dramatic opening day of this Bob Willis Trophy match against Gloucestershire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The 22-year-old former England Under-19 batsman ended unbeaten on exactly 100, his fourth First Class century as Somerset were dismissed for 237, having been 89 for five and 176 for nine after losing the toss.

His valiant innings lasted for 143 balls and featured 17 fours whilst David Payne claimed four for 44 and Ryan Higgins four for 72. However, a last-wicket stand of 61 between Bartlett and Jack Brooks frustrated the visitors.

By the close of play, Gloucestershire had slumped to 13/4, Chris Dent and Graeme van Buuren falling to Craig Overton whilst Ben Charlesworth and nightwatchman Josh Shaw fell to Josh Davey in the first seven overs.

The start of the day had seen Somerset struggle after visiting skipper Dent had elected to field, with threatening clouds gathering.

Left-arm seamer Payne, fresh from eight wickets in the previous game against Glamorgan, bowled Eddie Byrom (0) at the start of the third over.

With the total on 29, Somerset captain Tom Abell edged Shaw through to wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick, departing for ten, and at the end of a morning session which was interrupted for 40 minutes by a heavy shower, Somerset were 42 for two.

Higgins grabbed an important scalp soon after the interval, pinning James Hildreth lbw for 13 and it was 57 for four when opener Tom Lammonby was caught low at third slip by Tom Lace off the same bowler, having made 24.

Gloucestershire looked to be in charge when Steve Davies was caught down the leg-side by Roderick off Payne for 16 in the 35th over.

However, Bartlett, who was back in the starting line up following a concussion, looked in excellent form from the outset and by tea he had moved confidently to 43 off 89 balls.

Craig Overton provided support as batting began to look more comfortable under clearing skies and had contributed 32 to a stand of 75 when he fell leg-before to Higgins with the total on 164 in the final session.

A clatter of wickets followed as Roelof van der Merwe edged Payne to George Hankins at second slip, Jamie Overton was caught behind off the same bowler and Davey was taken at first slip by Dent off Higgins.

At 176 for nine, Somerset looked in danger of ending their innings without a bonus point.

However, Bartlett began to cut loose and found a reliable partner in Brooks who once again this season provided valuable runs at number 11.

Bartlett continued to punish anything short through the covers and point. A richly-deserved hundred was reached with a single to third-man off Taylor and the young batsman leapt to punch the air in celebration.

Brooks was caught at mid-off for 24 off the next delivery, but the momentum was with Somerset and Craig Overton was quick to build on it by trapping Dent lbw for five in the third over of Gloucestershire’s reply.

Charlesworth edged to second slip, van Buuren was caught behind and Shaw fell leg-before as the fiery Overton and accurate Davey threatened with virtually every ball.

At the close of play George said: “I’ve been playing here since I was a kid and it has always been a dream of mine to score a hundred at Taunton. To achieve it and help the team out of a tough position made it a very special day for me.

“We try to score as many runs as possible as a team, but with the way our bowling attack is firing, any total we make seems to put us in a strong position. Now we must avoid any hint of complacency, keep getting the ball in the right areas and hopefully we can force a win.

“Once I got in, it became a lot easier. I pride myself on my off-side game and today it worked well.”

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