|Ground:||County Ground, Taunton|
|Scorecard:||Somerset v Sussex|
|Player:||EC Joyce, LWP Wells, LJ Wright, AC Thomas, L Gregory|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2015|
DateLine: 6th July 2015
SOMERSET v SUSSEX
Taunton, Day 1
Close of play: Sussex (145/6) v Somerset.
It was a day of unsettled weather at Taunton, and it is impossible to tell how much this worked in the favour of Somerset, who in the 56 overs possible took a firm grip on the Sussex throat as their seamers removed six Sussex batsmen for 145 runs.
There were three interruptions for rain, and it seemed to disturb the concentration of the Sussex batsmen, who had made a good start to their innings before the rain came. Afterwards they lost wickets, and the day ended with their lower middle order fighting for survival against a team on song.
Somerset won the toss and put Sussex in to bat on a green-looking pitch Ė but locals will tell you this is deceptive at Taunton, still a batsmanís paradise. The feeling is that if the pitch has any help for the bowlers at all, it will be early on, so that perhaps accounts for this decision. It is questionable, however, whether Somerset would have profited so much by it had the weather remained dry.
The match began with some simple bread-and-butter cricket, steady play with little out of the ordinary. Sussex opened with two left-handed batsmen in Ed Joyce and Luke Wells, who moved the score along steadily, the most noticeable happenings perhaps being several fours through the slips along the ground, which the fielders there seemed to be incapable of stopping.
They had reached a score for 47 without loss in just under an hour when a light rain began and the umpires took the players from the field. The delay was not for long, but perhaps it disturbed the batsmenís concentration, as soon afterwards Joyce tried to pull a short ball from Luke Gregory, only to be caught by the wicketkeeper down the leg side. He scored 28, and the total was 56 for one wicket; this immediately became two, as Matt Machan edged his first ball, from the same bowler, into the slips.
When the total reached 72, more rain fell, and an early lunch was taken. After this Wells and Chris Nash were able to accumulate steadily for almost an hour before heavier rain arrived, the score then being 105 for two, and Wells laboriously approaching his fifty with 48. Tea was taken early, and play did not resume this time until 5.15.
The weather was now more settled and partly sunny. Wells, still stuck on 48, was dropped off a low, difficult chance in the slips off Craig Overton, but Nash was the first to go, bowled off the back foot by Overton for 35; 113 for three. Then Wells finally found the single needed to reach his fifty, off 118 balls. It included nine fours, but he had been very slow through the forties. He hit another boundary, but was then trapped lbw by Peter Trego for 54, off 122 balls. Sussex were now less than comfortable at 122 for four, with two new batsmen at the crease in Craig Cachopa, the New Zealander, and Luke Wright.
Cachopa never looked comfortable, and Trego had him caught in the slips for 8, scored off 29 balls; 129 for five. Wright and Ben Brown struggled for survival now against fine bowling, but Somerset were right on top now and they knew it. Brown was next to go, to another slip catch, as Alfonso Thomas returned to take his first wicket of the match; 138 for six.
Wright decided it was time to show some aggression, but Trego just failed to reach a powerful but uppish straight drive off his bowling. This cooled the batsman down, and he was prepared to play for the close in the beautiful evening sunshine, along with Steve Magoffin. The score was 145 for six at the close, with one side more than happy to return to the pavilion, the other wishing it could go on so they could drive home their advantage. It was certainly Somersetís day.
(Article: Copyright © 2015 John Ward)