Somerset's Title Hopes Take A Blow

Somerset's hopes of a first County Championship title dipped when they were bowled out for only 202 by Lancashire on a grassy Taunton pitch.

Somerset's hopes of a first County Championship title dipped when they were bowled out for only 202 by Lancashire on a grassy Taunton pitch.

Peter Trego ensured the home side picked up only a solitary batting point with a battling 81, receiving too little support as Oliver Newby claimed four for 72 and Glen Chapple three for 33.

But Somerset stormed back when Lancashire began their reply, with Andy Caddick taking two early wickets and Charl Willoughby getting the valuable one of Stuart Law as the visitors closed on 56 for four.

The toss looked likely to prove important after both captains had surveyed the green wicket clearly prepared to produce a decisive result.

It was Law who called correctly and Somerset plunged straight into trouble as Marcus Trescothick fell for a duck in the second over. Aiming to strike Newby through mid-wicket, the former England opener edged a catch to Law at second slip.

Captain Justin Langer soon followed, caught behind driving at Chapple, and at 20 for two Somerset had lost their two most experienced top-order batsmen.

It was 33 for three when James Hildreth attempted to leave a delivery from Newby and edged another catch to wicketkeeper Luke Sutton.

Zander de Bruyn did his best to stop the rot with 39 off 66 balls, including seven fours. But just as the South African seemed to be getting into his stride he edged Tom Smith to Paul Horton at first slip.

The wickets kept falling as Ian Blackwell popped up a return catch to Smith and at lunch the score was 95 for five. With only 11 runs added after the interval, Craig Kieswetter top-edged an attempted pull shot off Newby and Sutton took the skied catch.

Even one bonus point looked beyond Somerset when Alfonso Thomas was pinned lbw on the back foot by Chapple. But Steffan Jones helped Trego add 41 for the eighth wicket to start the fightback.

Trego was dropped by Horton at slip on 27 and went on to complete a fine half-century off 76 balls, with six fours. Jones' resistance ended when he was caught at cover off Newby, but Caddick came in at number 10 to play a key hand.

He and Trego added 51 to take the score to 202 before Trego was caught behind driving at Gary Keedy, having faced 151 balls and extended his boundary count to 10.

Caddick (24) lost his middle stump to Chapple without further addition, but Somerset had done better than looked likely at 110 for seven and took the field with a bounce in their step.

The evergreen Caddick turned the clock back with two classic lifters to dismiss Horton and Karl Brown, both caught behind, while Willoughby found the outside edge of Law's bat on the drive and Trescothick held on at second slip.

It was 45 for four when Mark Chilton was clean bowled by Willoughby for 17 and at the close Somerset were back in with a chance of the victory they need to stand any chance of overhauling current leaders Nottinghamshire.