Matt Renshaw, Tom Lammonby set up batters’ day for Somerset in Bristol

Somerset 319 for 4 (Renshaw 94, Lammonby 76, Hildreth 53, Abell 52*) vs Gloucestershire

Matt Renshaw and Tom Lammonby shared an opening stand of 172 to give Somerset early control of their LV= Insurance County Championship match with arch-rivals Gloucestershire at Bristol.

Overseas recruit Renshaw hit 94, off 141 deliveries, with 16 fours, while 21-year-old Lammonby lost little in comparison, striking 11 boundaries in his 131-ball innings of 76.

The two left-handers put together their chanceless partnership from 43.4 overs after Somerset had lost the toss and paved the way for a first day total of 319 for four on a benign pitch at the Seat Unique Stadium.

James Hildreth contributed 53 and Tom Abell an unbeaten 52. Zak Chappell, one of three new loanees in the Gloucestershire side, was pick of the home attack with two for 49 from 18 overs.

Renshaw and Lammonby dominated the morning session after Gloucestershire had elected to field in bright sunshine on a pitch with only a suggestion of greenness.

Lammonby had a stroke of fortune on six when getting a leading edge to tall seamer Chappell. The ball spiralled back over the bowler’s head and fell safe.

Ryan Higgins beat Renshaw’s outside edge a couple of times, but Somerset’s opening pair soon settled and batted with increasing assurance.

Renshaw accelerated impressively and, despite being briefly becalmed in the forties, went to his half-century with a single off Brad Wheal, making his Gloucestershire debut on loan from Hampshire.

The Australian had faced 85 balls and hit nine fours. Lammonby was particularly effective through the leg-side with some meaty pulls and drives as the partnership progressed to 114 off 31 overs by lunch.

The afternoon session began with Lammonby moving to fifty with an edged boundary off Higgins, having faced 94 deliveries and hit nine boundaries.

There looked to be little in the pitch for Gloucestershire’s injury-hit attack. But Chappell had stuck to his task, bowling a probing line from the Pavilion End, and was suddenly rewarded with two wickets in quick succession.

Having previously demonstrated sound shot selection, Lammonby looked to guide ball that was too straight over the slips and miscued a simple catch to gully.

In his next over Chappell produced the best ball of the day to beat Renshaw’s back-foot defensive shot with one that squeezed between bat and pad. From looking untroubled, Somerset had lost both openers and were 174 for two.

Gloucestershire’s fightback continued when Tom Banton, who had lofted left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar over long-on for six on his way to 18, edged a defensive push off Higgins through to James Bracey.

The wicketkeeper took a fine low catch, one-handed diving to his right, and at 207 for three Somerset were in danger of relinquishing their stranglehold.

Skipper Abell and the vastly experienced Hildreth, 18 years to the day since scoring his maiden first class century against Durham, steadied things and took the score to 229 at tea.

By the time Gloucestershire took the second new ball, a further 43 had been added under continuing blue skies, but with a stiff breeze blowing across the ground.

Abell and Hildreth were looking rock solid, but having reached a 96-ball fifty, the latter pushed forward to left-armer Matt Taylor and edged through to Bracey.

The stand of 85 had re-established Somerset’s dominance and Abell reached a 125-ball half-century with a glorious off-driven four.

But Gloucestershire kept decent control of the run-rate and could also take positives from an absorbing day.

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