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Lewis gives Somerset the upper hand

Lewis Gregory’s second Specsavers County Championship century gave Somerset the upper hand on the third day of this Specsavers County Championship match against Surrey at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The 26-year-old all-rounder made an unbeaten 129 from 153 balls, with 10 fours and five sixes, as his side were bowled out for 398, from an overnight 243 for five.

That gave Somerset a first innings lead of 18 and Gregory was soon in the thick of the action again, claiming two wickets as Surrey, without illness victim Dean Elgar, struggled to 152 for five at the close.

The hosts were also without a key player in seamer Jack Brooks, sidelined by a calf problem. First innings centurion Rory Burns again held Surrey together with 78 to guide them from a perilous 43 for three just before tea.

The day began with Somerset trailing by 137. Steve Davies had added four to his overnight score of 54 when falling lbw to Gareth Batty, but Gregory, who started the morning on 18, moved confidently to his half-century off 69 balls, with six fours and a six.

Craig Overton contributed 15 to a seventh-wicket stand of 51 before Conor McKee had him caught behind off a glove. The second new ball was taken at 303 for seven at which point Gregory started to cut loose.

Twice he effortlessly lifted deliveries from Ryan Patel over long-off for six and when Morne Morkel dropped short he was dispatched him over the longest boundary at mid-wicket.

It was 353 for seven at lunch, with Gregory on 96. Shortly after the interval he went to three figures off 121 balls, with eight fours and four sixes.

Tim Groenewald helped add 64 and Jack Leach a further 32 in stands dominated by Gregory, but Somerset fell agonisingly short of a fifth batting point when last man Brooks, nursing his calf injury, had his middle stump uprooted by Rikki Clarke.

The slender advantage of 18 runs still looked useful as Surrey plunged to 19 for two, Mark Stoneman edging Gregory to Marcus Trescothick at second slip and Scott Borthwick falling lbw to Overton.

With Elgar unable to bat, Somerset pressed home their advantage. Leach bowled Patel between bat and pad with some flight and spin and at tea the visitors were 49 for three.

That became 94 for four when Gregory continued his memorable day by hurrying a ball through Ben Foakes’ defence to trap him leg before for nine.

Skipper Burns was in defiant mood. Using his feet well to Leach, the left-hander brought up his second fifty of the game off 108 balls, with six fours.

Will Jacks, on a pair, needed to be patient getting off the mark, but helped Burns add 54 before Leach produced another key breakthrough. Burns advanced down the track once too often and was stumped by Davies as the ball beat his outside edge. The celebrations of bowler and fielders confirmed it as potentially a match-winning moment.

Morkel was sent out as nightwatchman to join Jacks, who had shown good temperament in moving to 31, and the pair safely negotiated the last two overs of the day with their side leading by 134.

At the close of play Lewis Gregory said: “Its been a nice day for me, and you have to savour days like this. Hopefully there will be a few more around the corner.

“Any day that you can contribute to the team, especially when they need it, is satisfying. The guys down at the bottom end were brilliant and hung around really well. Tim [Groenewald] played a gutsy knock to hang around as long as he did and all the boys were very good today. We put on a few vital partnerships which set us up for what we did this afternoon.

“We’ve put ourselves into a really good position and the Rory Burns wicket at the end was vital. It’s set us up nicely for the final day.

“We will chase as many as we have to, but we still have to take five wickets. The first session is going to be crucial to see if we can force a result. The boys will be right on the money and hopefully we can nick a couple of quick ones in the morning and go from there.”

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Next MatchSomerset V Warwickshire

20/05/2019 11:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground

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