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Gregory’s Graft Grants Great Somerset Success

The weather played havoc with the week’s Specsavers County Championship fixtures, whose starting days were spread over Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Among the worst hit of all was the First Division game at Mansfield, where the John Fretwell Sporting Complex played host to its first first-class fixture. Sadly, the game won’t linger long in the memory, except for Kyle Abbott, who took six for 37 as Nottinghamshire were bowled out for 162. Hampshire had reached 93 for two in reply by the end of the first day, after which the rain prevented any further play.

Despite two whole days being lost to the weather at Canterbury, Somerset were still able to record an emphatic ten-wicket victory in a low-scoring game. The visitors chose to field first, and immediately had Kent in trouble, the first day having been rained off. The wickets fell steadily, and they were all out for just 139 in 41 overs. Lewis Gregory was the star, taking a career-best six for 32. At 35 for four in reply, Somerset weren’t having it all their own way, but a vital career-best 63 from 20-year-old Tom Banton gave them a narrow lead, as they reached a total of 169. There was still time for Kent to slip to 24 for two by close of play.

After the third day’s play was lost, Gregory picked up three wickets in seven balls on the way to figures of five for 21 and a match analysis of 11 for 53 – no wonder many were claiming that his form this season should put him in consideration for an England Test call-up. But with Anderson, Archer, Broad, Curran, Woakes and Wood already in the shoot-off for three slots, he’ll have to keep on pressing hard. Kent slumped to 59 all out, narrowly exceeding their lowest-ever total against Somerset of 55, made at Tonbridge on 12 June 1926. That left Somerset with a target of 30 to chase down, which they did in 6.4 overs. After six games, they are already 26 points clear of their nearest rivals, Hampshire.

A further ten points behind them come Yorkshire, who drew in another rain-affected game in Guildford. Day one was a wash-out, but Surrey then scored 313, batting into the third day. Jamie Smith made 56 on his Championship debut, having scored a century on his first-class debut in the season-opener in Dubai against MCC. For Yorkshire, Steven Patterson took five for 81. Just under 28 overs were played on day three, and on the final day Yorkshire were bowled out for 148 before they made 30 without loss following on in another day when under 40 overs were bowled.

In the Second Division, just 11 overs of play were possible in Leicester, where the home side made 36 for three. Meanwhile, at Worcester the home side were bowled out for 98 in 38.1 overs, with Adam Finch making 2 not out on his debut. For Lancashire, Jimmy Anderson took four for 24, and Graham Onions also picked up four wickets. That was the last of the play on the first day, and the next three days saw just 33.2 overs’ play, during which time Lancashire reached 110 for three, with Finch unable to take his maiden first-class wicket.

Almost two full days’ worth of play were possible at Chester-le-Street, where Durham slumped to 81 for seven before Ben Raine (a career-best 82) and Brydon Carse, with his highest score of 77 not out, put on 154 for the eighth wicket – a county record for that partnership against Northamptonshire. All out for 253, Durham then found Ricardo Vasconcelos in good form, as he made an unbeaten 105 to help his side up to 254 for six, whereupon the match between the two bottom sides ended as a draw.

The two matches that started on the Tuesday had some better weather. In Swansea, it was a case of runs galore, after Glamorgan made a good first-innings total of 394. At 217 for eight, that seemed unlikely, but in Graham Wagg they have a lower-order batsman with a double century to his name, and here he made exactly 100 while adding 167 for the ninth wicket with Lukas Carey, who hit a career high 62 not out. That achievement was put into context when Billy Godleman and Tom Lace (a maiden century, 143) put on 291 for the third wicket. Godleman wasn’t done, and by close of play he had reached 211 not out as Derbyshire reached 504 for four before becoming the fifth man out on the final morning, having scored 227. He eventually declared on 598 for five. The home side reached 184 for two in the 40 overs before the end of the match, and they currently trail Lancashire by nine points at the top of the table.

At Arundel, Will Beer hit a career-best 97 as Sussex scored 351 for eight declared, with much of the second day lost to the weather. Gloucestershire had two centurions in their reply, as Gareth Roderick hit 158 and Ryan Higgins made a career-best 119 not out, his second century of the season. With ten bowlers used by Sussex, the visitors were able to reach 444 for six by the end of the match and the hosts are a point behind Glamorgan.