Philander makes instant impact
Vernon Philander needed just three balls to grab his first wicket for Somerset before Middlesex reached 118 for four on a rain-reduced opening day of the LV= County Championship season at Taunton.
The South Africa seamer, serving as Somerset’s overseas player for the first two months of the summer, had opener Sam Robson caught behind for a duck in the first over when the match began at 2.45pm and went on to claim 3-21 from 12 overs before bad light ended play at 5.35pm.
But the equally impressive Joe Denly stood firm on his Middlesex debut and was unbeaten on 64 when a heavily curtailed day ended with only 36 overs bowled.
After Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick had elected to field, Philander’s opening spell of seven overs, which yielded just eight runs, showed why he has made such a successful start to his Test career.
As well as dismissing Robson, he had two confident appeals against Chris Rogers rejected and also caused Denly plenty of problems.
Rogers looked to have weathered the storm when Philander was removed from the attack. But, on 17 and with the total on 51, the Australian surrendered his wicket carelessly to the medium pace of Craig Meschede, pulling a short ball to fine-leg where George Dockrell took a straightforward catch.
Denly survived the early threat from Philander to produce some crisp drives in an innings that blossomed as the afternoon wore on. He reached an excellent half-century after tea from 90 balls, with nine fours.
The former Kent player looked in fine early-season form and had helped take the score to 90 for two when Philander pinned Dawid Malan lbw for 12.
Middlesex skipper Neil Dexter could contribute only eight before becoming Philander’s third victim, bowled by a delivery that appeared to keep low.
At 114 for four the visitors were in trouble, but the weather came to their rescue as heavily overcast skies saw umpires Rob Bailey and Martin Bodenham decide the light was too poor to continue with a possible 19 overs left in the day.