Somerset batsmen guilty of lack of urgency

Somerset 510 Hampshire 83-0 (Somerset lead by 427 runs)
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The Independent Online

There has been a steely look to Somerset of late, most notably in the batting, highlighted by the way they chased down the second-highest fourth-innings total in the history of the County Championship to defeat Yorkshire in the previous match nine days ago.

And they had entered this match in search of a fourth successive Championship victory – the last time they managed that was 14 years ago – as they continued to push their way towards the top of the First Division.

Sadly the steel was not quite so evident when it was Somerset's turn to bowl at an equally potent Hampshire batting line-up.

The admirable Charl Willoughby was a model of movement and economy, but the same could not be said for Andrew Caddick. It is remarkable that the former England fast bowler is still performing at this level at the age of 40. He played his first match of the season against Yorkshire last week after recovering from a back operation and shoulder problems but he failed to pick up a wicket.

The Hampshire openers Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams helped themselves to 40 runs off Caddick's first half-dozen overs – 32 in boundaries – as they hammered their way towards three figures. The long-promised rain finally arrived in the tea interval, bringing a premature end to proceedings on a day when progress by the Somerset batsmen had been painfully slow.

James Hildreth, already well into three figures, batted through what was left of the opening session – a heavy shower drove them off for 55 minutes after just four overs – and into the afternoon without hitting a single boundary. He passed 150 for only the fifth time in his promising career, but given the fact that prolonged heavy rain was forecast, perhaps Somerset should have injected a little urgency into their run-gathering from the outset.

After Hildreth's seven-and-a-half-hour innings ended with a lame, tired-looking chip to Dimitri Mascarenhas at mid-on, it was left to Alfonso Thomas, who shared in a stand of 87 for the seventh wicket with Hildreth, to get things moving. The South Africa-born all-rounder did nothing dramatic, proceeding with caution, but still managed to hit nine more boundaries as he amassed his highest score for Somerset. He and David Stiff, who is also no slouch with the bat, added a breezy 53 for the eighth wicket, the latter clouting a huge straight six off the Pakistani leg spinner Imran Tahir which necessitated a replacement ball.

Thomas was last man out, caught in the deep by James Tomlinson when looking for an 11th boundary, but he had at least ensured that Somerset had passed 500 for only the second time this season. They also banked a maximum five batting bonus points, again another second of the summer.