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Somerset Dominate Opening Day At Edgbaston

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Somerset delivered another dominant performance as they bowled Warwickshire out for 121 and replied with 80 for two on the opening day of their Bob Willis Trophy match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

Tom Abell’s side took immediate control against the brittle Bears, who chose to bat and soon hit 15 for three in the face of a high-class opening spell of 7-5-4-2 from Craig Overton. The England bowler went on to finish with 14-6-17-3 – superb work on a good batting pitch.

Abell nipped out the tail with 3.2-2-4-3 while Somerset’s bowlers were backed up by razor-sharp fielding which included two direct-hit run outs from the skipper and Tom Banton.

It was cricket bristling with purpose and confidence and, with two wins and 40 points already banked from their first two games, Somerset are strong contenders for a place in the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.

For Warwickshire, it was a day to forget as the batting imploded and the bowling, apart from the excellent Olly Hannon-Dalby toiled fruitlessly in the absence of the injured Liam Norwell and Olly Stone. To cap their joyless day, they also sustained another injury when Matt Lamb suffered a cracked toe while batting. Whether he will bat in the second innings remains to be seen.

With confidence fragile after their collapse at Bristol last Tuesday, Warwickshire soon hit trouble after electing to bat. Overton swiftly removed Rob Yates, who edged a beauty to wicketkeeper Steven Davies, and bowled Sam Hain who played across a straight one.

The last thing the home side needed was a self-inflicted wound but that’s what followed when Ian Bell called captain Will Rhodes for a sharp single. It was a decent call, a run was there, but Rhodes did not run hard enough and was beaten by Abell’s direct hit.

Bell looked in good nick and added 34 in 11 overs with Lamb but departed in infuriating fashion when he tickled a Lewis Gregory delivery down the leg side to Davies. Lamb went on to 22 (46 balls, five fours) but succumbed to the last ball before lunch when Overton completed his consummate morning’s work by bowling the batsman through the gate.

That sent Warwickshire into lunch 65 for five, after which Michael Burgess and Tim Bresnan took the score to 88 before the former played on to Gregory.

Somerset were bowling more than well enough not to require gifts but another wicket was then donated to them. Alex Thomson played his first ball to square leg and embarked upon a single but Tom Banton’s throw arrived before he did.

That was two wickets in two balls. Two in three followed six overs later when Abell had Henry Brookes caught at first slip and Craig Miles pouched by the keeper. When, in his next over, Abell induced a nick from Hannon-Dalby, Bresnan, having again batted resolutely, was left unbeaten on 32 (51 balls, seven fours) and Warwickshire were all out in 45.2 overs.

Somerset’s reply was solidly launched by Ed Byrom (30, 54 balls, six fours) and Tom Lammonby (33, 58 balls, three fours) who added 56 in 17 overs before both fell to Hannon-Dalby, caught at first and second slip respectively. Tom Abell had chance to move past 4000 career First-Class runs before bad light brought a halt to proceedings 13 overs shy of the allotted overs.

Somerset bowler Craig Overton said: “It’s coming out nicely and the work I did during the winter seems to be paying off. Today the ball nipped about a bit early on and then started to swing as the ball got older which was nice. Luckily, I got a few nicks early on to get those three wickets and that got us on a bit of a roll.

“I think it’s a pretty good wicket. There’s a little bit in it for the bowlers but not as much as at Northants last week. I think if batsmen get in you can probably score 300 on it. That would be a good score tomorrow and give us a good lead. We knew looking ahead to this week there was going to be a little bit of rain around so we are pretty pleased to have got most of the day in and moved the game forward so much.

“I’d like to think I’m sending a message to the England selectors. I’ve just got to keep taking wickets. That’s my job and I’ve got to keep doing it and keep trying to push my claims and hopefully another chance comes.”

Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes said: “Somerset have shown us how to bowl at Edgbaston with that fuller length. Fair play to their seamers, they kept coming back and coming hard at us and it’s up to us to come back tomorrow and take some wickets in the morning.

“Craig Overton has been in the England bubble so has been doing a lot of work with the England boys and that showed. He was just that little bit of quality above what we are used to in county cricket so we have got to get our heads around that in the second innings and play him a lot better than we did.
“Two run outs from direct hits were unfortunate but that happens in cricket. Somerset are a very good, well-drilled fielding side.”

Photos via Roy Smiljanic

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