Hildy shows his class on day one
James Hildreth’s 47th First Class hundred was the highlight of day one of this LV= Insurance County Championship between Surrey and Somerset at the Kia Oval.
Hildreth showed his class as he battled to 107 as Somerset closed on 280 for six.
Lewis Goldsworthy also caught the eye as he and Hildreth shared a fourth wicket stand of 144 in 50 overs, the youngster making a gritty 48.
Hildreth, acting captain in the absence of Tom Abell, won the toss before Somerset set out towards what they hope will be a match-defining first innings total in the final Group 2 fixture before qualification for the end-of-season divisional finale that will decide who wins this year’s LV= Insurance County Championship title.
Somerset must at worst draw here to make sure of Division One status in August and September, while Surrey began the game 22 points behind group leaders Somerset and 17 points adrift of second-placed Gloucestershire (the top two qualify for Division One) and had only a mathematical chance of finishing second.
Indian Test off spinner Ravi Ashwin, signed for this game only as an overseas player replacement for injured New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Jamieson, bowled the first over of the match at the start of a five-over new ball spell and finished with one for 70 from 28 overs.
Surrey, indeed, fielded three frontline spinners with off spinner Amar Virdi and slow left-armer Dan Moriarty also sharing 37 overs, while Somerset have England’s Jack Leach in their ranks. However, only the odd ball spun markedly on a sluggish surface as Hildreth’s determined partnership with Goldsworthy shaped the opening day.
Jordan Clark made an early breakthrough when he bowled Devon Conway for 21 – the New Zealand Test opener inside-edging an attempted drive – and Somerset were 113 for three 20 minutes after lunch after Steven Davies, lbw to Virdi’s second ball, and Tom Lammonby, who shouldered arms to Ashwin’s arm ball and was bowled off stump, had both departed for well-made 42s.
Hildreth, who hit 13 fours from 211 balls and cut and swept the spinners with excellent judgement, dug deep before an inswinger from the Jordan Clark took out his off stump 10 minutes from the close.
Goldsworthy and George Bartlett (2) had by then also gone to the second new ball, strangled down the legside by Clark and leg-before to Rikki Clarke respectively.
At the close of play, Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr said: “It is obviously a used surface, so there was a lot of anticipation around the toss but you still have to bat well first up and it was an outstanding innings today from James Hildreth. Both he and several others assessed the conditions very quickly and batted in the right manner to put us in what is a strong position, especially with two good players [Roelof van der Merwe and Ben Green] still at the crease for tomorrow morning.
“I thought Lewis Goldsworthy showed immense maturity in that partnership with Hildy and his 48 was a brilliant effort by someone who is still in the infancy of his career. In his debut season he has already had opportunities across different formats and has shown he can play under pressure as well as having batting skills. Surrey came back well towards the end of the day with the second new ball and perhaps it is a pitch where they could have used their quicker bowlers a bit more.”
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