Somerset takes command thanks to George Bartlett’s century
George Bartlett hit his first century of the season to give Somerset the upper hand at Lord’s on the first day of their County Championship match against Middlesex.
After being dropped on 25, Bartlett cashed in to share a third-wicket partnership of 183 with captain Tom Abell and change the visitors’ fortunes.
Somerset lost both openers within the first five overs, but Bartlett – who was eventually bowled for 121 – and Abell oversaw their recovery to 325 for 6 at stumps, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore producing a fast hit of 68 from 60 balls.
Middlesex’s Tim Murtagh and Ryan Higgins each took two wickets, with the remaining wickets split by Ethan Bamber and skipper Toby Roland-Jones.
After winning the toss and batting first, Roland-Jones justified his decision with his opening delivery, convincing Steve Davies to direct it to Stephen Eskinazi at first slip.
Only three overs later, Eskinazi took his second catch of the morning, catching Tom Lammonby at the second attempt from Murtagh, leaving Somerset in danger at 10 for 2.
With the experienced Middlesex combination establishing early movement, Abell and Bartlett had to absorb some pressure before eventually gaining control with the skipper timing his shots on both sides of the wicket.
Bartlett appeared less confident at the crease at first, struggling to stay on top of Roland-Jones in particular, and he was fortunate to survive when Eskinazi put down a loose edge off Bamber.
The post-lunch phase became a race to the half-century mark, with Abell being the first to do so when he cut Bamber to the point boundary and his partner not much following.
The shot that got Bartlett to 50 was less impressive – an accidental edge off Roland-Jones that sailed between wicket keeper and first slip for four – but the 25-year-old clearly increased in confidence after that.
When Middlesex strayed from an all-seam approach, Bartlett pummelled Luke Hollman for two fours in his first over, and another neat cover boundary off the leg-spinner put him to his century in 174 balls.
Abell appeared to be on course to join his teammate in three figures until he drove at Higgins on 77 and speared to gully, where Eskinazi held on to secure a much-needed breakthrough for the hosts.
Kohler-Cadmore, on the other hand, kept his side’s momentum going, smashing Sam Robson back into the pavilion for a six and then thumping Murtagh for consecutive boundaries.
Bartlett’s nearly four-and-a-half-hour innings came to an end when he lofted Higgins towards mid-on and Roland-Jones read the catch correctly, sprinting to his left.
But Kohler-Cadmore kept going, leg-glancing Bamber’s full-toss to the fence to bring up his half-century at a run a ball – and inflicting more misery on Murtagh with consecutive sixes over the short boundary.
Murtagh had the final say, bowling Kohler-Cadmore around his legs with the following ball, but Somerset had already done enough to earn their second bonus batting point by the time Bamber had James Rew caught behind in the penultimate over of the day.