50's for Steve, Tom and Hildy on day one

Steve Davies top-scored against his former county as Somerset twice fought back from testing situations on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship Division One clash with bottom placed Worcestershire at Blackfinch New Road.

The wicket-keeper batsman hit a fluent 72 and there were also half centuries from Tom Abell and James Hildreth as Somerset recovered from 11 for two and then 115 for four to reach 324 for nine by the close.

Worcestershire handed a Championship debut to wicket-keeper batsman Alex Milton, who picked up three catches, and on loan Nottinghamshire paceman Luke Wood.

Somerset’s new overseas player, Azhar Ali, made his first appearance for the County as the replacement for the injured Australian batsman Matt Renshaw.

Brett D’Oliveira opted to put the visitors into bat after winning the toss and the new ball attack of Magoffin and Wood made a double breakthrough.

Magoffin asked questions of both batsmen during an initial spell of 6-4-5-1 and he accounted for Edward Byrom (5) – caught behind by Milton who replaced broken rib victim Ben Cox after 76 successive Championship appearances spanning five seasons.

In the next over Wood trapped Marcus Trescothick lbw for six in his first appearance since May after recovering from a broken metatarsal with the total on 11.

Azhar Ali and Hildreth were initially watchful but then flourished during a third wicket stand of 99 in 28 overs.

Hildreth, a century-maker at Taunton in the early season fixture between the sides, was the dominant partner and reached a 99 ball half century with 11 boundaries but his partner provided a solid ally.

The game edged back in Worcestershire’s favour with two wickets to Dillon Pennington during a fiery pre-lunch spell.

Azhar Ali (37) pushed forward and nicked through to Milton and then Hildreth (57) shouldered arms and was bowled at 115 for four.

A second Somerset period of recovery was instigated by Abell and Davies during a partnership of 126 in 33 overs.

Davies straight drove Moeen Ali for six and was first to his half century from 72 balls with also eight fours to his name.

Abell followed his team-mate to fifty in more circumspect fashion from 107 balls.

Moeen broke the partnership when Davies (72) played back and nicked to Milton who held onto a sharp chance.

The 31-year-old claimed another wicket as Peter Trego (1) was leg before.

Magoffin returned with the second new ball and picked up a second wicket as Abell – 70 from 151 balls with 13 fours – was lbw.

However, then the Overton twins, Craig (31) and Jamie (28), plundered 51 in eight overs before falling to Moeen and Ed Barnard respectively.

For the scorecard click here

At the close of play Steve Davies said: “I think we’ve had a pretty good day. It would have been nice for either myself, Tommy or Hildy to go on and get a big score, but there was a little bit in the wicket all day.

“Certainly Ed Barnard bowled really well and got a little bit out of the wicket, so all in all we are pretty happy with the day.

“It’s always nice to come back here. I was at Worcestershire for a long, long time but I’ve not actually played here for a while so it was nice to come back and get a few runs.

“At times I thought the pitch was pretty flat. There is a little bit in it if you bowl in the right areas which I think is pretty hard into the wicket and back of a length.

“Moeen Ali also seemed to get a bit more spin from the centre of the wicket after we came back out after tea and that was a positive sign for us with Leachy in our team.

“Jamie and Craig’s partnership at the end was pretty vital and for us so we are pretty happy so far.”

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