Somerset 320 (Jones 130) v
Tour Match, Taunton, day one
For a long while, as The Ashes officially kicked off at a sunny Taunton, it looked as if Australia’s woes were continuing. Their bowlers were put to the sword on the opening day of their first tour match ahead of next month’s first Test by two Somerset batsmen with a point to prove.
Axed England opener Nick Compton and out-of-favour Somerset batsman Chris Jones compiled a huge second-wicket stand of 170 following the early loss of Marcus Trescothick to James Pattinson. However, the home side lost their last eight wickets for just 16 runs in an astonishing collapse to Australia’s opening bowlers Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson.
Starc had Craig Kieswetter and Craig Meschede bowled, with Alex Barrow and George Dockrell failing to lay bat on ball and being trapped leg-before. He ended with figures of four for 33 from 16.1 overs, with Pattinson - who added the wickets of James Hildreth, Peter Trego and Jamie Overton to that of Trescothick - taking four for 56.
Nathan Lyon had earlier reasserted himself as Australia’s lead spinner and appears to have seen off the threat from Fawad Ahmed and Ashton Agar, at least for the time being.
On a typically flat Taunton pitch, he got through 23 overs at a cost of 75 runs and also broke the second-wicket partnership by having Compton caught by his captain Michael Clarke, whose return to a cricket field following a flare-up of his back problem was a welcome sight for all.
The majority of the day, though, belonged to Jones and Compton before the dramatic evening collapse that would see five Somerset batsmen dismissed for ducks. Compton survived some initially testing bowling from Starc and Pattinson before laying into the change bowling of Peter Siddle and James Faulkner - whose combined figures of 30-3-132-1 must surely give the tourists some cause for concern.
He made 81, but it would be Jones who would steal the day’s batting headlines. He has been unable to break into Somerset’s first eleven so far this season - partly it must be said due his commitments at Durham University - and boasted a first-class average of little more than 17 coming into today.
However, he breezed past his previous highest score of 69 and completed a maiden century off 188 balls, against what must be close to Australia’s first-choice bowling attack.
Following the departure of Compton, he added a further 119 with James Hildreth, who made a typically fluent 66 and continued to show why those that argue for his inclusion in an England squad may well have a point. Both, though, fell early in the collapse that was to follow as Australia fought back to undo the damage of a bruising opening two sessions of their Ashes tour.