Bailey blast keeps Lancs in hunt
A sensational burst of four wickets in seven balls by Tom Bailey late in the day revived Lancashire’s hopes on the first day of this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
Bailey’s four strikes plus one from Kyle Jarvis put the skids under a Somerset innings that looked to be steering the visitors into a dominant position thanks to a century from opener Tom Abell.
Then some late hitting by Peter Trego helped Somerset counter the shock of losing five wickets for 20 runs to close the day on 339-7.
Lancashire made two changes bringing in seam bowlers Bailey, playing his first four-day game since the Roses match at Headingley in May, plus left-armer Toby Lester for his third Championship game and first since September 2015.
Steven Croft, continuing behind the stumps, won the toss and put Somerset in to bat in very overcast conditions that forced the floodlights to be on from the start.
In fact two early stoppages for rain saw just eight overs bowled during the first hour before the weather improved significantly for the rest of the day.
Somerset got away to a good start, Marcus Trescothick passing 1,000 first-class runs for the season when he steered Lester to the third man boundary to reach 24 before surviving a big lbw appeal against Jarvis.
The former England opener looked in good touch though, stroking six fours before lunch to reach the break on 37 although his batting partner Tom Abell had a let off when he had made 32, cutting Luke Procter’s first delivery to give gully a difficult sharp chance, low down that failed to stick.
From a position of 69-0 at lunch, Somerset progressed nicely with the century partnership arriving in the 31st over, Trescothick inside edging the unfortunate Jarvis for four to reach his half century while Abell reached his fifty with a lovely cover drive off Simon Kerrigan.
In fact Abell stepping up the scoring during the afternoon with a nice range of shots, but the Red Rose attack kept plugging away and were finally rewarded when Trescothick on 60 pulled Jordan Clark high to Kerrigan who took a quite marvellous catch on the run at backward square leg.
That left Somerset on 134-1 and Clark nearly claimed a second wicket two balls later when visiting skipper Chris Rogers edged through the gap between third slip and gully for four.
After that scare Rogers settled down to help Abell build the visitors total steadily throughout the afternoon on a fairly placid pitch to reach tea in a strong position at 182-1 after 58 overs.
Abell, 97 not out at the break, reached three figures with a classic straight drive for four soon after the resumption-the young opener’s second hundred of the season and his third first-class century.
Soon afterwards Abell edged a drive off Jarvis between second slip and gully on 108 to increase Lancastrian frustration, but Clark finally ended the 93-run partnership when Rogers edged down the leg side to be well caught by the diving Croft after making 47 to leave Somerset on 227-2 in the 73rd over.
The visitors continued to add to their score albeit slowly with James Hildreth joining Abell in a quiet passage of play with no boundary scored for more than eleven overs with the floodlights once again in use as the weather closed in during the final hour.
Lancashire took the new ball after 80 overs with Somerset well on top at 265-2 before Bailey produced an amazing spell to turn the innings on its head with four wickets in seven balls.
Hildreth was the first to go, pushing forward to the fifth ball of Bailey’s first over with the new cherry but edging to Alviro Petersen at second slip to depart for 27.
Jim Allenby fell to the same combination for 1 from the first ball of Bailey’s following over after fencing at a delivery that left him off the pitch, Abell edged the fourth ball of the same over to Croft after nibbling at a ball that nipped back to be out for a career-best 135, and Lewis Gregory was then lbw first ball.
It was a stunning effort by Bailey who came close to completing a sensational over with a hat-trick, Craig Overton clipping his first delivery to mid-wicket where Lester made a lot of ground but, diving to his left could only get his finger tips to the ball.
Overton departed three overs later when he was bowled for 9 by the deserving Jarvis to leave Somerset on 287-7 with the visitors having lost five wickets in five overs for 20 runs in a stunning turnaround.
Peter Trego hit back with nine boundaries in a hard hitting innings of 49 from 40 balls, and his partnership with Ryan Davies (7 not out) swiftly reached 50 off 49 balls to revive the Somerset innings as they ended the first day on 339-7.
Tom Bailey, who took 4-53, was pleased with Lancashire’s comeback during the evening session today.
“We fought back well,” he agreed.” I didn’t think we bowled too well at the start of the day having won the toss. But that evening session turned out to be a pretty good one.
It was a terrific comeback with the second new ball and Bailey added, “We had to make up for it after being wicket-less in the first session.
“So to come back hard like me and Jarv did at the end there was good.
“For me, I was quite nervous this morning, not having played in the first team for about three months. This evening I had settled into the game and looked to hit a decent length.
“We’re disappointed by that final partnership but that’s how (Peter) Trego plays. But if we can come back in the morning and take three early wickets it will be a good two days.
Bailey has endured a frustrating summer following his injury, but was fairly philosophical about how the season has gone for him so far.
“I was bowling well at the start of the year,” he said. “Then I tore my side in the Roses match which was really disappointing, but these things happen.
“It would have been nice to have a full season. Last year was my first full season without an injury.
“I’ve been fit for a month now, but had to get my overs in the second team but it’s great to just be back in the side.
Looking ahead to final part of the season Bailey added: “Our main aim at the start of the season was to stay up and I think the lads are confident we can do that. It would be nice to win these last three games.
Triple-wicket overs are pretty rare and Bailey admitted: “I’ve never taken three wickets in an over in first-class cricket before, four would have been nice!
“It was a great effort by Toby (Lester), I thought he was going to get it at first, but I’m very happy with that over!
Photo of Tom Bailey by Simon Pendrigh