Jake Libby produced another impressive performance as Worcestershire CCC conceded a first innings lead of 51 to Somerset on a see-saw day in the Bob Willis Trophy Central Group top of the table encounter at Blackfinch New Road.
Libby achieved his fourth fifty plus score in eight innings in the Trophy and is now the leading run-scorer in the competition with 475 runs at an average of 59.37.
He shared in partnerships of 57 with Daryl Mitchell and 66 with Tom Fell to lay the sort of platform that has become Worcestershire’s trademark this season in topping 400 on three occasions.
Worcestershire were on top shortly after lunch when the total stood on 123-1 but there was then the delay for rain and the picture of the game changed after tea.
Fine bowling from the Somerset attack plus a couple of loose shots meant they were dismissed for 200 after being 123-1 at one stage – a first innings deficit of 51.
But then Club Captain Joe Leach made a quickfire breakthrough in bowling Ben Green (0) – his 18th victim in the Trophy – as Somerset reached 16-1 before bad light brought a premature close.
Jack Libby said: “We knew that on that pitch wickets always come in clusters. Obviously, we are a bit disappointed to be behind them on first innings but we are still in the game and a big spell from our bowlers in the morning will keep us in it.
“It is seaming sideways. They bowled well in spells and, the spell they bowled really well in, they got a lot of reward for.
“We didn’t get a lot of reward with the new ball in the first innings and hopefully we can get a bit more luck in the morning and take a few more of the edges.
“They are probably the best bowling attack in the country and have been taking wickets for fun this year. We knew that going into the game and put up a good fight to start with. It was a shame to lose such a cluster of wickets.
“I rode my luck a bit just before lunch but you have to on that pitch a little bit. It’s always nice to get runs but I would have liked to have kicked on.”
Worcestershire had resumed this morning on 14-0 after a fine opening day bowling performance had seen them dismiss Somerset for 251.
There was still encouragement in the pitch for the seamers but Mitchell showed early aggressive intent in upper cutting a wide and short ball from Craig Overton to the third man boundary and leg glancing him for another four.
Libby, who passed 3,000 first class runs in his career when on nine, twice turned Josh Davey off his legs for boundaries in the same over.
The half century came up via a cut for four by Mitchell in the first over from Lewis Gregory after he replaced Davey at the Diglis End.
Gregory made the first breakthrough when Mitchell, after another solid knock was lbw for 31 to a delivery that kept low with 57 on the board.
New batsman Tom Fell, full of confidence after his recent impressive contributions, got off the mark by steering Gregory to third man.
Spinner Jack Leach bowled tidily in his first competitive appearance for 10 months but then Libby released his control by straight driving a six and four in the same over.
Libby edged a Jack Brookes delivery which flew through the hands of Leach at first slip.
But he and Fell experienced few alarms in the short period of play after lunch before the heavens opened.
Libby went past the fifty mark when he turned Jack Brookes off his legs for two. It came off 114 balls with one six and seven fours.
The players left the field at 121-1 from 40.2 overs and there was a lengthy delay in which 10 overs were lost.
On the resumption, Fell (26) was confronted by a Brookes delivery which shaped as if it was going to move away but went straight on and dislodged a bail as he shouldered arms.
Jack Haynes (4) lost his off stump to Gregory and Libby’s fine knock ended on 58 when he drove at Brookes and fell to a fine low catch by ex Worcestershire keeper Steve Davies.
Riki Wessels opted for a typically aggressive approach which paid handsome dividends as he struck Brookes for five authentic boundaries in the space of 15 deliveries
Brett D’Oliveira (8) was lbw to a ball angled into him from Craig Overton.
Wessels, having made 32 off 36 balls, went for a pull right out of the middle of the bat against the same bowler and fell to a fine catch at square leg by Ed Byrom.
Ed Barnard (0) was bowled aiming a blow on the leg side off Davey and Ben Cox (8) perished at third slip off Overton. Joe Leach (6) nicked Davey to first slip and he claimed his third wicket by bowling Tongue (0).