Jennings' two tons in a match set Durham on victory course

Durham 256 and 223 for 4 (Jennings 105*) lead Somerset 179 (Trego 45, Onions 4-62) by 300 runs

Keaton Jennings became the third Durham batsmen to score two hundreds in the same match © PA Photos

The second day of this match dawned cool and heavily clouded, conditions which were unlikely to buck up Somerset skipper Chris Rogers as he made his way down to breakfast. Still 226 runs in arrears and with both openers having been dismissed on Sunday evening, Rogers knew that his batsmen would have to resist the many skills of Chris Rushworth and Graham Onions if they were to achieve parity on first innings. That task is generally difficult enough, even without the hindrance of seamers’ gloom.

So it must have been devilishly irritating to Somerset’s skipper that his team were bowled out for 179, thus conceding a 77-run lead as much because of their own carelessness and misjudgements as the bowlers’ excellence. Also galling, perhaps, was that Somerset subsided as conditions for batting rapidly improved, albeit that the morning shadows were pale, evanescent things when set beside Sunday’s sharp images.

Some Somerset bats might have been playing shots at shadows on Monday morning and by close of play the home side’s lead had been extended to 300 with Keaton Jennings having become the third Durham batsman after Dean Jones and Paul Collingwood to score two hundreds in a first-class match. Jennings, who is newly qualified to play for England but hardly likely to do so very soon, reached his century off 163 balls with a drive through midwicket off Roelof van der Merwe three overs before play ended. It is a remarkable achievement for a player who was dropped for the last six games of the 2015 Championship season having scored just 473 in twenty innings.

In contrast to his batting on Sunday, Jennings batted with considerable freedom on the second afternoon of his game. He helped Mark Stoneman put on 74 for the first wicket in just less than 13 overs as Somerset’s new-ball attack fell apart. Jennings then reined in his more aggressive instincts a little as he lost three partners in 49 balls but Collingwood was with him when he reached his century in 38 fewer balls than he had needed on Sunday. The pair’s unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 72 in only 14 overs firmly reminded everyone at a floodlit Riverside where the balance of this match lay.

More significantly than any personal achievement, Jennings gives a side a few were tipping for relegation with a wonderful chance of beginning their campaign with a victory. By the same reasoning it seems clear at the midpoint of this game that unless Rogers and his batsmen outdo Leonidas and the Greeks in the First Test at Thermopylae, Somerset will begin their season with a defeat. Rogers’ men may, of course, be saved by the weather but they would be deceiving themselves if they thought that a draw currently represented parity.

Yet for the first 40 minutes of the day, Rogers and Hildreth had resisted Rushworth and Onions very stoutly, adding 43 runs to the total and only rarely being defeated. Whenever Rogers drove unwisely or played and missed, he jerked his head back in savage self-reproof and took a penitential walk to square leg. Hildreth looked in even less trouble until, as he seems annoyingly prone to do in the thirties, he edged a catch to the slips, Ryan Pringle pouching the chance off Onions. Jim Allenby’s first ball was straight and on a good length; it needed to be hit, not to be played with a hopeful half-stride forward, the pad doing most of the work and the bat alongside, as if in comradely solidarity. The latter, though, was what Allenby attempted and Rob Bailey sent him on his way. 79-5.

A quarter of an hour later two more wickets fell to consecutive deliveries and the second of them probably marked a pivotal moment in this game. First Roelof van der Merwe drove wildly at Onions but only inside edged the ball to Michael Richardson. Then Peter Trego cover-drove his first ball straight to Mark Stoneman in the ring and called Rogers for a single. Stoneman’s throw took out the middle stump with Rogers still stretching for the crease. The Somerset skipper departed for 23 with a glance at his former partner; perhaps he was speculating as to the nature of life on planet Trego. 85-7.

The rest of the innings sought to staunch a deep wound with sticking plasters. Trego, hardly in the manner of a sinner seeking atonement, made 45 off 57 balls and added 66 for the eighth wicket with Lewis Gregory. But 20-year-old Brydon Carse marked his Championship debut by dismissing two of the last three batsmen and Durham’s 77-run lead already seemed substantial in the context of the game.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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