County Championship round-up: Philander eases burden on captain Trescothick after Somerset batsmen tumble


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The Independent Online

Only spectators lucky enough to find a sunny vantage point protected by a windbreak might have forgotten that it was early April yesterday, but at least there was little chance of succumbing to hypothermia on account of dozing off.

There was frantic activity everywhere, with pitches behaving as they tend to at this time of year and bowlers subsequently ruling the roost. Some 54 wickets had fallen before tea in seven County Championship matches, even with rain interruptions in five of them.

Somerset were bowled out for 147 at Edgbaston, where Marcus Trescothick's decision to bat first seemed odd even before the subsequent carnage. Vernon Philander would have been champing at the bit after taking seven wickets in his opening match for his new county, as Middlesex were beaten by six wickets at Taunton last week.

In the event, it was the South African fast bowler's prowess with the bat that spared Trescothick deeper embarrassment. Philander top-scored with 38. Apart from the showers, his partnership of 47 with George Dockrell was the only impediment to some excellent swing and seam bowling from Keith Barker, Chris Wright (4 for 74) and Rikki Clarke as Warwickshire dealt with the absence of the injured bowlers Boyd Rankin and Chris Woakes.

Seamers were in charge at Chester-le-Street, too, where Durham asked Nottinghamshire to bat after the home captain, Phil Mustard, won the toss for the 15th time in 17 Championship matches. Despite a stand of 66 for the fifth wicket between James Taylor and Chris Read, Notts were dismissed for 161. Samit Patel, who will need to make substantial scores in the Championship to persuade the England selectors to consider him for the Tests against West Indies, fell for 13 as Graham Onions began to build his case for a Test recall with 4 for 42.

Middlesex are facing Surrey at Lord's but they found progress difficult against an attack that will pose problems for plenty of batsmen this season. Joe Denly and Sam Robson constructed a solid start after Surrey elected to bowl but Middlesex lost five wickets for 43 runs after lunch, including Jade Dernbach dismissing Neil Dexter and John Simpson with consecutive balls.

In Division Two, Northamptonshire were bowled out for 132 by Kent while the former Warwickshire and Derbyshire seamer Graham Wagg achieved his best figures for Glamorgan, at the expense of the second of those former counties. Derbyshire crashed to 130 all out at Cardiff.