Wickets are carelessly tossed away as Somerset start in sorry fashion
Fifteen wickets fell on an extraordinary day at Taunton – but it is Derbyshire who have control over Somerset in a match that could prove pivotal in the race to remain in Division One of the County Championship.
Somerset won the toss and chose to bat but were dismissed for 103 as visiting seam bowler Tim Groenewald took five for 33.
Piyush Chawla, batting at No 9, top-scored for the hosts with 27, before Derbyshire reached 220 for in reply.
Recent overseas arrival Chawla was the biggest threat with the ball as well as the bat, taking four 87 to at least give Somerset hope. But much of that hope was erased as sixth-wicket pair Tom Poynton (53 not out) and Richard Johnson (55 not out) put on 93 to frustrate this hosts in the final session last night.
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Somerset's director of cricket, Dave Nosworthy, had urged his players to forget about last week's innings victory over Middlesex at Lord's – which appeared to have eased their relegation fears.
Forget it they clearly did, slumping to 68 for seven at lunch and 75 for nine shortly after, before Chawla took it upon himself to hit out. The Indian spinner, who was later required to bowl 21 overs, hit Tony Palladino for four successive fours to carry Somerset into three figures, before eventually being caught on the boundary.
Somerset have not won at home in the Championship all season– and their hopes of breaking their duck in their penultimate Taunton match of 2013 were all but wiped out in the opening 24 overs, as seven wickets fell. There was some assistance for the seamers early on, with Derbyshire's pace men rewarded for holding their line, while Somerset were also guilty of giving several wickets away cheaply.
Marcus Trescothick, having won the toss and opted to bat, was the first Somerset man to fall. He held his bat out and was caught at third slip by Wayne Madsen for 17 off Mark Footitt, before Nick Compton edged a decent ball from Palladino to second slip for 4.
Both wickets fell with the total on 25. Somerset have struggled all season to adapt after losing early wickets – and the slide continued as Chris Jones edged Palladino to wicketkeeper Poynton for one.
Of all the Somerset dismissals, though, Craig Kieswetter's was the most baffling. The wicketkeeper has been in sparkling form of late – but in the space of three balls, he managed to swing at one that went for four; offer Groenewald a tricky caught-and-bowled chance that was dropped; and, finally, drive flamboyantly to Ben Slater at mid-off for nine.
Alex Barrow offered no shot as he was bowled by Groenewald for one to one that nipped back in, before James Hildreth played across the line and was lbw to Palladino for seven.
When Craig Meschede was strangled down the leg side and caught behind off Groenewald for six as he tried to flick to fine leg, Somerset were 53 for seven.
Lewis Gregory pushed forward and edged the second ball after lunch behind for nine to give Groenewald his fourth wicket, before Palladino took his fourth by bowling Alfonso Thomas, who offered no shot, for five.
Chawla took the fight to Derbyshire with his flurry of boundaries, but he was eventually caught on the cover boundary to give Groenewald his fifth wicket as Somerset were all out for 103.
In reply, Derbyshire fell to 127 for five before progressing to 220 for five by the close. They had an early escape when Paul Borrington was dropped by Kieswetter off Gregory without scoring – a difficult chance in front of first slip.
Borrington was first out, when he fell victim to Chawla's first delivery, caught by Trescothick at slip for 27. The same combination – Chawla and Trescothick – then dismissed Madsen for seven.
Meschede, who has something of a golden arm when it comes to dismissing the game's biggest names, continued his run of form in that area by pinning Shivnarine Chanderpaul lbw for four, as 52 for none became 67 for three.
Slater was out for 45 as he tried to turn one from Chawla round the corner and was caught at backward short leg by Hildreth, before Alex Hughes played for the spin against Chawla and was lbw for six. But Poynton and Johnson both reached fifty in successive overs to give their side a healthy lead to defend.
Pitch inspector Bill Hughes was on the ground, and, given the high number of wickets to fall, the Taunton wicket will continue to be monitored for the duration of the match.