Batting at Taunton has traditionally been a, average-inflating exercise. However, since the signing of Murali Kartik over the winter, the wickets prepared have become noticeably tougher to bat on. So noticeable in fact that to be honest they are looking a bit suspect. An overcast first day and Somerset won the toss and bowled, so the expectation would be for plenty of swing or at least seam movement. However that did not appear to be the case as Carberry and Lumb advanced the Hampshire score to 130-1. Adams was the man to fall, in the 30s, though apparently he had been dropped in the first over and then again a short while later. Adams' form is becoming a real concern in the CC, a century on the second day of the season but since then there have been plenty of fifties and plenty of starts but nothing of real substance. Of course I don't doubt his place in the team for a second, it's just that something appears not to be right in either his technique or his approach to an innings. Kartik then proceeded to bowl 23 overs, quite a surprise for a first day in which only 78 overs were bowled due to intermittent rain. Added to that were 3 wickets as Carberry, Lumb and Vince all fell to spin. Carberry however was a rock in the innings, continuing his outstanding form by scoring 71, taking his season stats above 1000 runs. However, once he fell with the score on 130, Lumb and McKenzie combined for a 50 partnership which saw Lumb reach 42, an extension of his good form also.
A pretty predictable collapse followed, as Hampshire went from 180-2 to 186-5, and suddenly Slug was at the crease with CC newbie Dan Christian, who replaced Balcombe as the only change from the side that played Durham at Basingstoke. The selection of Christian is an interesting one, as he clearly offers much, much more with the bat than Balcombe. However, I'm not sure how well he will be able to emulate the role as first change, unless Slug is brought on to bowl first after Cork and Tomlinson. Either way, the pair had added 31 unbeaten when the rain came down to end all hopes of any further play that day, and Hampshire sit in the precarious position of 217-5. Clearly we don't know how the wicket will really play until Somerset have batted as well, but at the current rate even if Hampshire's lower order gets the runs, we are in jeopardy of missing out on 2 batting points. Not something you'd want to do at Taunton. Rain looks like dictating terms today, so if play is able to get underway at any point then Slug and Christian just need to bat as much as they can and look to be proactive in their shot selection and running. Of course, if needed Cork and Tommo can always come out and smash 100 between them. What will also be on Cork's mind is the bowling. The attack picked for this match is in no way the quickest, and given the hstory of the ground, despite Hampshire's day 1 efforts, means that anything wide or short will be dispatched, most probably by Trescothick. It is however a happy hunting ground for Tommo, and so he will be hoping to find the sort of swing that picked him up 8 wickets on the first morning in 2008. If the pitch really is playing into Kartik's hands then Briggs will need a big effort as there will be pressure on him to pick up wickets. Slug and Christian also need to be incisive and look to work away at the middle and lower order to prevent a huge score from being made. Either way Hampshire are in for 3 (well probably 2 and a bit) tough days of cricket.
It will be okay
3 months ago