Long way back for Warwickshire

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Alfonso Thomas

Alfonso Thomas belied the reputation of the Taunton track, taking 5-41 to put Somerset well on top on the first day

Alfonso Thomas claimed 5-41, his best figures in this country, as Somerset bowled out Warwickshire for 127 on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division One clash at Taunton.

The South African all-rounder took four of his wickets in the space of just 23 balls during the morning session, reducing the visitors to 80 for five at lunch after they had been put in. Varun Chopra top-scored with 45.

A green pitch made batting unusually testing at the County Ground. But by the close Somerset had reached 145 for three, Arul Suppiah unbeaten on 61 and James Hildreth 35 not out.

The home side elected to leave extra grass on the wicket in a bid to make it more bowler-friendly and Marcus Trescothick must have been delighted to win the toss.

But Warwickshire’s demise was more the result of poor batting than any extravagant seam movement. After the early loss of Ian Westwood they progressed to 63 for one as Chopra was dropped on two by Peter Trego at third slip off Ben Phillips.

But Thomas turned the tide with a devastating spell from the Old Pavilion End, varying his pace and sending back Chopra, Darren Maddy, Rikki Clarke and Tim Ambrose at a cost of just 14 runs.

There was no sign of a recovery after lunch as Ant Botha was bowled by a delivery from Phillips that nipped back. Jim Troughton made 22, but then drove at a wide ball from Charl Willoughby and got an inside edge onto his leg stump.

It was 112 for eight when Imran Tahir had two of his stumps flattened by Willoughby after a poor innings that failed to trouble the scorer. Then Boyd Rankin missed a Thomas full toss and was also bowled.

Chris Woakes put the pitch in perspective by making 28, but had to take risks as he ran out of partners and was the last man dismissed, having hit three fours and a six.

Somerset were soon in trouble themselves as Trescothick got a leading edge to Andrew Miller and was brilliantly caught right-handed by the bowler on his follow through.

When Nick Compton drove at a good length ball from Miller and gave a thick edge to wicketkeeper Ambrose it was 29 for two and Warwickshire were back in the game.

But Zander de Bruyn steadied things with 34, including seven fours, and Suppiah reached a studied half-century off 102 balls. Batting was looking a lot easier as he and Hildreth added 67 before the close.

Compton was in the Somerset side as a substitute for Craig Kieswetter, away with England’s ICC World Twenty20 winning squad attending a celebration function at Downing Street. Kieswetter is due back at Taunton tomorrow to take part in the rest of the match.

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