Somerset 427 & 129-5 Kent 208: Langer leaves opening but Kent still have it all to do

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The Independent Sport

After dominating the first five sessions, Somerset were in danger of making things difficult for themselves as Kent clawed their way back from an apparently hopeless position. Fittingly, it rests on the shoulders of the Somerset captain, Justin Langer, to make sure it does not happen.

His decision not to enforce the follow-on with a first-innings lead of 219 raised a few eyebrows around the County Ground. That is not to say it was the wrong decision, simply that it was not the usual one. As such it inevitably invites close scrutiny. And given that Langer's first act, as Somerset's second innings began, was to call for the quick single that resulted in Marcus Trescothick being run out, the murmurings intensified quickly. Yet a good case could be made for Somerset batting again. They had, after all, scored at nearly five an over first time around and could have topped 600 had so many batsmen not given away their wickets. With a similar rate of accumulation, Langer probably reasoned, his side could be streets ahead and still have the greater part of two days in which to bowl Kent out again.

By last night's close, however, Somerset were not streets ahead, and neither did they have many obvious routes left by which to get there. Five down, they lead by 348 overall, but one more wicket would let the Kent bowlers at their tail. Langer is unbeaten on 65 and much depends on him to add the 60 or 70 more runs needed to get the sums right.

After Trescothick, Somerset immediately lost Zander de Bruyn, caught at second slip, to be 22-2. James Hildreth steered Ryan McLaren straight to gully and another double setback, when Peter Trego edged Martin Saggers to the wicketkeeper and Ian Blackwell chipped tamely back to bowler James Tredwell, left them 103-5.

Earlier, Langer's bowlers had served him well as the ball swung under overcast skies, helped by a stiff breeze, to dismiss Kent for 208. Charl Willoughby, Alfonso Thomas and Steffan Jones took three wickets each, Ben Phillips holding a brilliant catch in the dismissal of Yasir Arafat.