Fiery Rankin ruffles Somerset's feathers

Somerset 262 Warwickshire 86-0
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The Independent Online

Even though they have won only three matches so far, it would be foolish to discount a surge from Somerset to threaten Durham's drive towards a third Championship title in four years.

Indeed, as Marcus Trescothick went about his business in familiar fashion yesterday morning there was an ominous look to the picture developing after the Somerset captain jumped at the opportunity to bat first on a surface that he correctly supposed would offer little assistance to the bowlers.

Trescothick was not long in scoring the 22 he needed to pass 1,000 first-class runs for the season for the fifth year in a row and crashed the ball to the boundary with typical disdain, reaching 50 off 69 balls.

But Warwickshire's now cautious approach to pitch preparation – understandable in the light of eight points docked earlier in the season – has not led their bowlers to abandon hope. And yesterday offered rewarding proof that a willingness to bend the back can be worthwhile even on a pitch as slow and placid as this one.

No one demonstrated that truth to greater effect than Boyd Rankin, who delivered a hostile spell brought him three wickets in the space of 22 balls at a cost of two runs, including the key wicket of Trescothick.

If the former England opener could be considered slightly unlucky, caught down the legside in an attempted glance, he had been ruffled by Rankin, who hit him on the body and the head with a venom that made the pitch look anything but sluggish.

Rankin had already seen off James Hildreth and Craig Kieswetter in the space of four balls. Hildreth pushed at a ball that bounced more than he expected to be caught at second slip, while Kieswetter chopped on.

Andrew Miller had bowled Arul Suppiah with a full-length delivery that swung late, and left-arm spinner Chris Metters struck with his first ball when a misdirected Nick Compton sweep was taken with brilliant anticipation by slip Rikki Clarke.

At 155-5, Somerset were in a bit of a spot and were indebted to Lewis Gregory and Peter Trego for the consolation of a couple of batting points.

So far, by contrast, the Somerset bowlers have been able to make very little happen and Warwickshire will resume on 86 without loss.

Warwickshire have made a move to attract Leicestershire's batting prodigy James Taylor to Edgbaston next season. The 21-year-old is tied to Leicestershire until the end of 2012 but Warwickshire have offered to buy him out of his contract.

Leicestershire, who lost Stuart Broad to Nottinghamshire four years ago, will resist the approach, but the ambitious Taylor knows that England – one of whose selectors, Ashley Giles, is also the Warwickshire coach – will want to see him tested against First Division attacks before he is given a chance to play at Test level.