Specsavers County Championship Division 1 – day two (close)

Somerset 171 v Kent 84-2

THERE is nothing quite like the first day’s play of a new cricket season to sap the optimism built up over the winter.

Having seen yesterday completely washed out, Somerset ended day two of this match perhaps wishing they had spent another afternoon playing cards in the changing rooms.

A wet outfield delayed the start – a strip at the River End used by a crane to install one of the floodlights was the problem area – but, with the boundary rope brought in a touch, play finally got underway for the season at 1.10pm.

Before long, however, Marcus Trescothick lost his off stump on 10 and Azhar Ali, having survived one nick to first slip after the umpires adjudged the ball hadn’t carried, was not so fortunate when he did so again soon afterwards and had to depart for 24.

Mid-afternoon saw a succession of batsmen perish to loose drives outside off stump. James Hildreth (27) played some sparkling shots in his new role at number three before edging to slip; Eddie Byrom (6) and Steve Davies (18) then fell in identical fashion steering to gully.

Tom Abell survived being dropped on a single and helped shepherd Somerset to 140-5 at tea but, straight after it, George Bartlett - brought into the team at the eleventh hour as a replacement for Jack Leach as Somerset opted for the extra batsman – was trapped in front for six.

Abell, having played nicely for 49, threw his wicket away with a top edge to fine leg and Somerset’s tail offered little resistance as Kent wrapped up the innings on 171, Mitchell Claydon taking 5-46 and Matthew Milnes looking sharp for his 3-40.

Somerset’s bowlers then found breakthroughs somewhat harder to come by as Zak Crawley and Sean Dickson made a solid start.

Dickson was put down early by James Hildreth at first slip and the opening pair put on 71 without much in the way of other bumps in the road.

The much-needed breakthrough came via Craig Overton, who enticed Crawley into edging to Marcus Trescothick at second slip for a fluent 37, and Josh Davey accounted for the night-watchman Harry Podmore.

Matt Renshaw saw out the remainder of the day and the former Somerset batsman will play a key role in the morning as his new side look to build on their promising position.

For the home side, early wickets will be key as they look to respond to a day in which the switching on of the new floodlights for the latter part of the evening session was one of few (literal) bright spots.

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr said: “Given all the excitement in pre-season, it is a frustrating start.

“There are no demons in the pitch and a few of our batsmen know they could have applied themselves better.

“Tom Abell played superbly and is very disappointed he didn’t go on – a few of our guys got starts but didn’t kick on.

“I think we bowled pretty well. Brooksy [Jack Brooks] would have liked to have done more with the new ball but I thought he was brilliant when he came back later in the day.

“We have kept them to two and a half an over so they haven’t got away from us. It is a big morning tomorrow.”

Full scorecard – click here.