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Tom and Steve back to their best on day one

Tom Abell led from the front as Somerset reached 234 for four before rain washed out the final session on the opening day of this Specsavers County Championship match with Surrey at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Having walked to the crease with his side in trouble at 46 for three after being invited to bat first, the young skipper played immaculately to be unbeaten on 88 at tea.

Steve Davies was 68 not out against his former club, having added 138 for the fifth wicket with Abell.

Surrey skipper Gareth Batty had exercised his right to field first, influenced no doubt by heavily overcast skies at the start of play.

Marcus Trescothick’s first five scoring shots were boundaries as he and Eddie Byrom, making his home debut for Somerset, put together a stand of 43 in 11.2 overs.

Stuart Meaker then had Trescothick caught at second slip for 26 from an attempted drive, with only his second ball of the morning.

Rikki Clarke quickly built on the breakthrough in his return to Surrey’s Championship side by striking twice with successive balls in the 15th over.

Tim Rouse, like Byrom playing his first Championship match at Taunton, fell for a duck, caught behind off a slashing back-foot shot and the vastly more experienced James Hildreth was pinned lbw by the following delivery.

Byrom was unfazed by the wickets falling at the other end and built his innings impressively, leaving the ball well early on and gradually producing a greater number of attacking strokes.

The 20-year-old Zimbabwean left-hander was unbeaten on 38 at lunch, while Abell looked solid from the outset and had progressed to 18.

Having added to his score with a swept four off Gareth Batty from the third ball after the interval, Byrom advanced to the next and was bowled.

At 96 for four, Surrey were well on top. However, their seamers were not getting much out of a slow pitch, which had been used for the previous day’s NatWest Blast T20 clash between the teams.

Abell and Davies batted with increasing confidence and for Abell, in particular, it was a test of nerve. The 23-year-old Somerset captain had been left out of the previous four-day game against Yorkshire at Scarborough, which his team won. You would never have known it, as Abell demonstrated rock solid defence from the start before unleashing a string of attractive shots to reach a half-century off 101 balls, with 9 fours. It was a landmark warmly applauded by home supporters.

Davies also had a point to prove against his former colleagues after making just one previous Championship half-century for Somerset in his first season with the Club. He timed the ball sweetly for a fluent 81-ball fifty, with four fours and a six over mid-wicket off Batty.

The rain which began at teatime persisted and umpires Nick Cook and Nigel Cowley abandoned play for the day after a 5.20pm pitch inspection.

Afterwards Steve Davies said: “When I came in we just had to soak up a bit of pressure. It was great batting with Tom and we are both short of runs this year so it was nice to get a big partnership.

“I’ve been working hard in the nets for a while but there is no substitute for being out in the middle so it’s been a fairly good day for me. I’ve tried everything to turn things around and I think it was just a blip in form and I certainly feel better now than I did at the start of the season. I owe the team a few runs and it was nice to get them against Surrey.”

Captain Tom Abell said: “Of course there is a feeling of relief to get some runs on the board after the season I have had so far, but I’m even more pleased that it was a good day for the team.

“Eddie Byrom was fantastic up top and after a few wickets fell quickly we have managed to turn things around. I really enjoyed batting with Steve Davies. We both were in need of runs and hopefully today signals a change of fortune for us.

“It’s just a start as far as I am concerned. I know people have been saying the captaincy has affected my form, but I see it as a batting issue and have gone back to basics with my technique in an effort to put things right.”

For today’s scorecard please click here

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11/07/2022 11:00 - Southport