Siddle takes 6 but match finely poised after three days
A middle order collapse from Somerset has moved an excellent game of County Championship cricket forward at the Kia Oval on day three.
Tom Abell added a fluent 68-ball 53 to his career-best 150 not out earlier in the match and Tom Banton also hit a determined 52 as Somerset reached stumps 225 runs ahead of Surrey at 196 for nine in their second innings.
For Surrey, England’s current Test wicketkeeper Ben Foakes had to leave the field after clashing heads with Jamie Overton, at first slip, while taking a brilliant diving catch. A stretcher was initially brought out as a stricken Foakes was given lengthy treatment, but he was eventually able to walk off unaided and will hope to play a further part in a Division One game that could still go either way after three absorbing days.
A wonderful day’s cricket ended on the stroke of 7pm with Jordan Clark having Peter Siddle caught behind by Foakes’ replacement, Ollie Pope, from the penultimate ball, and Surrey grabbed seven wickets for 73 runs after tea.
Somerset fell away alarmingly from 132 for 2 with Reece Topley, Clark, Jamie Overton and Ryan Patel making light of the absence from the seam attack of Sam Curran, who can only bowl a limited number of overs on England orders, and an injured James Taylor.
Topley, swinging the ball at good pace in a superlative seven-over spell of three for 9, bowled Craig Overton for nought in between having both Steven Davies (1) and Banton caught by Foakes. It was Banton’s dismissal which caused Foakes’ injury, with the keeper somehow clinging on despite his nasty collision with Overton, who had himself dived for the edge.
Abell’s third wicket stand of 89 with Banton had earlier kept Somerset ahead on points in what has so far been a fiercely-contested and high-quality game, while Peter Siddle’s excellent six for 51 had previously limited Surrey’s first innings to 308 despite a superb 80 from Curran that featured a six and 10 fours – the last of them a dreamy extra cover drive off Siddle.
Surrey, resuming on 204 for five in reply to Somerset’s first innings 337, initially saw Curran and Will Jacks extend their sixth wicket partnership to 73 before Siddle began to tilt the game Somerset’s way.
Curran, on 44 overnight, swiftly completed his half-century – reaching the landmark with a lovely straight driven four off Craig Overton – and continued to attack the bowling, dancing down the pitch to drive Jack Leach back over his head for six when the England left-arm spinner was brought on for a four-over spell ahead of the second new ball.
Jacks, after adding just 14 to his overnight score, fell to Siddle in the fourth over with the new ball when he edged the former Australia fast bowler to second slip where Matt Renshaw took a sharp catch throat-high.
And Renshaw, two overs later, pulled off an even better catch in the same position, this time low to his right, when Curran nibbled at Siddle, operating from around the wicket to the left-hander, and stomped off the field clearly livid with himself.
Curran, indeed, despite his all-rounder status and high talent, is still waiting for his first hundred in senior cricket. Across all formats the 23-year-old has now played 236 innings, 115 of them in first-class matches, with a highest score of 96.
Clark made 10 before being lbw to a Jack Brooks nip-backer and, after lunch, Jamie Overton’s unbeaten 27 from 45 balls – with a six bludgeoned off Siddle over long on – guided Surrey to a third batting point.
Siddle, though, had both Taylor and last man Topley caught at the wicket, for 9 and 1 respectively, to earn Somerset a 29-run first innings advantage.
Surrey hit back with the early wickets of both Somerset openers, Tom Lammonby caught down the legside off Clark for a bright 30 and Australian Test batsman Renshaw bowled by Overton for 10 six runs later.
It was a brilliant piece of fast bowling by Overton, against his former county, as he first struck the left-handed Renshaw on the visor of his helmet with a short ball and then produced a full ball which swung in to pluck out off stump as Renshaw shouldered arms.
Banton was then fortunate to survive his first over against Overton, who hit the shoulder of the bat with a fearsome lifter first ball – Banton collecting four runs as it flew away high over gully – before beating him twice outside off stump.
But the 23-year-old England white-ball international battled hard to build his own invaluable innings, in support of Abell, until his captain edged Patel’s medium pace to Foakes.
James Hildreth was then caught at first slip for 5 off a Clark outswinger and Topley’s dramatic three-wicket burst, culminating in the scalp of Banton, was followed later by Leach chopping on for 17 against a fired-up Overton.
"If we can strike early with the ball, we give ourselves every chance to win the game"
— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) April 23, 2022
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