Lewis Gregory’s career-best intervenes after Ben Duckett’s delight

At Trent Bridge, Lewis Gregory scored career-best performances

Fracture occurs after back injury heals. Lewis Gregory‘s bowling career has followed a similar path. It is understandable that he frequently chooses to refer to himself as a batting allrounder given how demoralizing the routine has grown. 

However, everything fell into place on a bowlers’ day at Trent Bridge as he returned career-best figures of seven for 84 as payment for his years of effort.

That bowlers’ day took some time to become apparent. Ben Duckett and Haseeb Hameed, with varied degrees of luck, helped themselves to surprisingly easy early-season runs on a depressing April day when Gregory struck for the first time, leaving Nottinghamshire 164 for 1.

It was easy to regret Gregory’s back problems, which have contributed to the fact that he has only played 12 limited-overs matches for England, as he labored through the early half of the day, returning eight very routine overs for 33. 

After a brief rain delay shortly after lunch, though, batting did not feel as secure. In nine overs, five wickets fell for 33 runs as he started to loosen the reins a little and play the ball both ways. Nottinghamshire eventually paid the price for their misdeeds.

As the captain of The Hundred team Trent Rockets, Gregory is familiar with the area, but don’t make too much of that in the West Country, where people only see that as a temporary absence of no real significance that is best kept quiet. 

He will be looking for a repeat of Somerset’s 2019 innings victory here, when he took six for 68, with his effort. Well, maybe, but it might be wise for him to pass on the wager.

Ben Duckett and Haseeb Hameed had the early part of the day to themselves; their opening partnership had been worth 125 in 32.1 overs when Duckett was bowled by Craig Overton with a soft inswinger. 

With the new ball, Overton only bowled three overs before hobbling off with a hurting left foot. He quickly came back and finished his spell, occasionally kicking the footholds in displeasure. There is no better sign of spring than an Overton brother kicking the footholds.

With the same upbeat ingenuity that saw him score 1,102 Championship runs at 72.28 last summer, nearly treble his average from the previous season, Duckett is approaching an Ashes summer. There is no more watchable batter among county cricket regulars, and it is best if he stays on the circuit for a while.

Duckett can come off as captained contemptuously at his finest. Since he is far too laid-back for that, there is no sense of disrespect; rather, over the past year, there has been a sense that he should be free to do as he pleases if he feels like it. 

Because of his casual demeanor, bowlers often miss the mark when facing him. He is also a small man who can be aggressive when necessary, so there isn’t much room for error.

He managed 75 bouncy runs in 91 balls. He was almost playful in his performance against left-arm spinner Jack Leach, a teammate from England, who has seen his stock rise. 

He reverses swept his second ball over square leg for six and later added an over-the-shoulder scoop for good measure, much like the court jester Will Somers might have dared to try to amuse King Henry VIII on a day when his leg ulcers were giving him gip.

“I assessed the pitch and decided it was going to do a bit and tried to put the pressure back on the bowlers,”

Duckett said.

“This place is a bit like my second home with being my base with the Trent Rockets,” Gregory said. “I’m not quite back to my best but there are signs. There are still things that I’m not quite there with but what is exciting is that there are signs: I feel pretty good physically.”

By the end, Somerset had lost two of its own. Even though there might not be much play on the second day due to the weather, Notts might end up in charge. 

A good matchup at the top of the schedule pits Stuart Broad (wicketless through five overs) against Australian Cameron Bancroft, who has aspirations outside of the Ashes.