County Championship: 22 Somerset & Lancashire wickets fall on eventful first day
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cooper Associates County Ground (day one):|
|Lancashire 99: Leach 5-28, J Overton 3-32 & 7-2: Leach 2-0|
|Somerset 192: Gregory 64*; Maharaj 4-65, Onions 3-40|
|Lancashire (3 pts) trail Somerset (3 pts) by 86 runs|
Jack Leach helped Somerset take command of their Division One game against Lancashire at Taunton as 22 wickets fell on an eventful first day.
Lancashire subsided to 99 all out first up, with England Test spinner Leach ending with 5-28 for the hosts.
Second-placed Somerset were 104-8 in reply but Lewis Gregory's 64 not out lifted them to 192 and a lead of 93.
Leach removed Alex Davies and Matt Parkinson in the penultimate over of the day as Lancashire closed on 7-2.
The left-armer and fellow spinner Dom Bess were called upon to open the bowling with the light fading, and Leach made two important second-innings breakthroughs to further strengthen Somerset's grip on the match.
Somerset began 32 points behind leaders Surrey and the 15th five-wicket haul of Leach's first-class career gave them a great start to their search for a fourth consecutive Championship win.
Lancashire reached 47-1 before losing three wickets in 11 balls, and their disappointing morning was summed up when top scorer Alex Davies (20) tamely prodded a full toss from Leach straight to Craig Overton at mid-on.
Captain Liam Livingstone made just one on his return to the side after recovering from a broken thumb, while Dane Vilas, one of the heroes of Lancashire's brilliant run chase to beat Worcestershire in their previous fixture, edged behind off Leach for 11.
It was the sixth time in 12 Division One games this season that Lancashire, who started two points above the relegation places, have been dismissed for fewer than 200 runs in their first innings.
It appeared that Somerset's hopes of a big first-innings advantage had disappeared when Graham Onions (3-40) and South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj (4-65) reduced them to 81-6 by tea, until Gregory's priceless contribution.
The all-rounder added 33 with Jamie Overton (24) for the ninth wicket and another 55 with last man Leach, who scored 17.
Somerset head coach Jason Kerr:
"I am not worried about any possible penalty over the pitch because our last-wicket pair put on nearly 60 and showed what could be done on it.
"Jack Leach claimed five first-innings wickets, but he would be the first to admit he didn't bowl that well and there was some very poor batting by both sides.
"If you look at how the wickets fell, a lot of it was through very bad cricket. I was very disappointed with the way we batted because there was the opportunity to establish a very big lead.
"I have not spoken to the Cricket Liaison Officer (Dean Cosker) and probably won't do so until the end of the game, but I don't foresee a problem. Let's see how the pitch plays for the rest of the match."
Lancashire seamer Graham Onions:
"It's tough to bowl out a side when you have made only 99, but we fought back well and at one stage it looked there wouldn't be much in it on first innings.
"Their lower order changed that. Lewis Gregory played a lovely innings and it has put Somerset in a strong position.
"But if we can battle hard and get a lead anything could happen.
"The pitch turned, as it did a couple of years ago when I played here with Durham. Now we have to show some character to get ourselves back in the game."