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Honours Even After First Day

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Somerset skipper Tom Abell continued his fine form in the Bob Willis Trophy by top-scoring on the opening day of a see-saw crucial Central Group clash with Worcestershire at Blackfinch New Road.

Abell showed his class in striking 59 to help ensure his side posted a challenging total on a green-tinged pitch offering encouragement to the seamers.

It followed on from his 119 against Glamorgan and an unbeaten 101 versus Gloucestershire earlier in the competition as Somerset totalled 251 all out in 83.1 overs.

Worcestershire continued to probe away, despite the absence of paceman Josh Tongue with a back spasm for the second half of the day, with Dillon Pennington and Ed Barnard picking up three wickets.

A spell of five wickets for 41 runs in 18 overs tipped the game in Worcestershire’s favour as Somerset collapsed to 134-6.

But steady lower order contributions from Lewis Gregory, Josh Davey and Jack Leach steered the visitors to two batting points.

Worcestershire openers Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby then survived five probing overs from Craig Overton and Josh Davey in reaching 14-0.

Worcestershire made one change from the side which drew with Warwickshire with Pennington replacing fellow paceman Charlie Morris.

The visitors made two changes from the team victorious over Gloucestershire – both of them enforced – with Ben Green and Jack Leach in for the injured James Hildreth (hamstring) and Jamie Overton who has joined Surrey on loan prior to a permanent move.

The initial breakthrough for Worcestershire was self-inflicted by Somerset with Green run out for eight with 18 on the board.

Tom Lammonby played Tongue into the covers and set off instantly for what looked a risky single – and Green was unable to beat Ed Barnard’s direct hit.

There was plenty of playing and missing during the morning session but also some fine stroke play from Abell who dominated a partnership of 75 in 26 overs with the resolute Lammonby.

Lammonby on 12 had a let off when Riki Wessels at first slip failed to hold onto a low chance low to his left off Pennington.

The second wicket pair continued to prosper and Abell reached his half century off 89 balls with eight fours just after lunch.

But Pennington, who delivered an excellent eight over post interval spell, broke the stand when Lammonby (28) chopped a delivery onto his stumps.

George Bartlett (18) departed in similar fashion to a ball from Tongue and then Pennington picked up the prized wicket of Abell.

He found the edge of his bat and keeper Ben Cox pulled off a fine low catch away to his right. Spinner D’Oliveira came into the attack and struck in his first over when bowling former Worcestershire wicket-keeper batsman Steve Davies (9) through the gate

It became 134-6 when Jamie Overton (1) edged Barnard and perished to a low catch by Daryl Mitchell at second slip. But Gregory then went on the offensive with a trio of sixes – including two in an over from Barnard – and he and Eddie Byrom added 61 in 15 overs.

Gregory (37) became tied down by D’Oliveira after tea and the spinner was rewarded when dismissing the England white ball player.

He sliced his attempted drive into the hands of Pennington at short third man. Pennington struck with the ball for the third time when Byrom (30) attempted a cut shot and Barnard pulled off a magnificent catch low down at point.

Davey (28) holed out to square leg off Barnard – his 200th first class wicket – and the same bowler trapped Jack Leach (21) lbw to wrap up the innings.

Somerset captain and top-scorer, Tom Abell, said: “Mixed feelings to be honest. At certain stages through today, I certainly would have taken 250.

“But there were also times when we got on top and didn’t quite capitalise.

“There were a few soft dismissals, including myself, but I would say honours were pretty even after day one.

“We rode our luck at times, especially in that first session, played and missed a fair bit and I thought Worcestershire bowled very well.

“But equally, having done the hard work, it’s probably disappointing to have lost a few of the wickets in the manner we did.

“We’ve got ourselves in positions where we could have put them under a lot of pressure. Their bowlers had bowled a lot and we had taken them deep into their third and fourth spells.

“But ultimately we lost wickets at the wrong time and weren’t able to put our foot down later in the day.”

Worcestershire Assistant Coach-Bowling Coach, Alan Richardson, said: “A good day’s cricket. People would have been very happy watching that. I thought both sides would have enjoyed the battle that was going on out there.

“It looked like the wicket had a little more juice in it than the one against Warwickshire and it looks like a good cricket wicket.

“The extravagant movement we saw in the first hour was with the hardness of the ball so it will be a test for us in the morning but then hopefully you try and make inroads later on as the ball gets softer and the bowlers get a few overs in their legs.

“Is 251 a good total? I think we bowled brilliantly. I couldn’t have asked for anymore. That first session, to take only one wicket from a run-out, the boys deserved far more than that and we got those rewards as the day went on.

“Tom Abell applied himself really well and their tail wagged a little bit at the end.”

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