DURHAM overcame traces of over-indulgence to capitalise on Marcus Trescothick’s generosity in asking them to bat at Chester-le-Street yesterday.
While Keaton Jennings made a steadfast 80, other batsmen tucked ravenously into some tasty offerings then got out.
An eighth-wicket stand of 65 between Gareth Breese and Jamie Harrison saved the day, but it was slightly tarnished by the last three wickets going down for five runs.
Durham were all out for 308, leaving Somerset to face six awkward overs, and in the final one Trescothick survived a sharp chance to Breese at third slip off Chris Rushworth as they closed on seven without loss.
The Somerset captain appeared to have ignored the evidence from last year, when his side visited a week earlier and he set a trend among visiting skippers by inserting Durham, only to lose the game.
On that occasion Durham scored 250 then dismissed Somerset for 132, but after the recent dry weather this is surely a better pitch and it wasn’t long before Trescothick’s gamble began to backfire.
He wasn’t helped by a mystifying glut of no-balls as tearaway paceman Jamie Overton sent down eight in his first seven overs and Peter Trego and Craig Meschede took the eventual tally to 15.
Durham romped to 50 for one after ten overs and although the rate barely slipped they were undermined by the slightly careless loss of three wickets by lunch.
While others scored swiftly then perished, the more vigilant Jennings held things together until he fell for 80 just before tea.
He has become the lefthanded version of the tall, obdurate opener Durham hoped to have for many years in Michael Gough, who is umpiring in this match.
Jennings’ scalp provided a second wicket in successive overs for Lewis Gregory, who suddenly found some assistance from the pitch.
He had Paul Collingwood lbw on the back foot for 31 with one which kept a shade low, then found extra bounce and away movement to have Jennings caught at first slip.
That made it three wickets for Gregory, who had bowled the opening over and seen the second and third balls pulled in front of mid-wicket for four and six by Mark Stoneman.
National selector James Whitaker had not settled into his seat in time to appreciate the strokes and Stoneman added only a single before trying to cut a short, wide one in the third over and edging to Craig Kieswetter.
Perhaps the left-hander’s powerful shots had damaged the ball because it had to be changed after only eight deliveries.
Presumably Durham will be able to get their money back.
The change of missile didn’t help 20-year-old Overton, who replaced his twin Craig in the Somerset side and sent down five no-balls in an opening three-over spell which cost 24 runs.
Scott Borthwick pulled the first ball of the 11th over to long leg for four to take the total to 54, only to follow an away swinger from Peter Trego and give Kieswetter his second catch.
As at Northampton last week, the South African duo of Jennings and Michael Richardson did not appear inclined to surrender. But the indiscipline of the visiting attack may also have prompted Richardson to get a little carried away.
He had contributed 29 to a stand of 65 in 15 overs when he drove at Overton and sliced a catch to gully in the over before lunch. Somerset had bowled only 25.5 overs in two hours.
Whereas the lunch score on the first day at Northampton was 70 for two, this time it was 119 for three, with Jennings on 40.
The run-up problems were mystifying as Trego overstepped with his second ball and Meschede with his third and sixth before he switched ends and did it again.
The afternoon session began with Overton needing to bowl one ball to complete his seventh over and he succeeded in over-stepping for his eighth no-ball.
He was replaced by Meschede, who bowled a lively spell and succeeded, along with Trego, in stemming a run-rate which had stood at almost five an over. Meschede beat Phil Mustard a couple of times before having him lbw for 19 offering no stroke.
Collingwood turned the first ball he faced in front of square leg for four in trademark fashion, prompting Trescothick to post two men to block the shot.
Of more concern to the Somerset captain was an overrate reading minus four because of all the no-balls, so he turned to the harmless off spin of Johannes Myburgh, helping Collingwood to continue his fluent progress as 20 came off the first three overs.
The Durham skipper also pulled Gregory in front of mid-wicket for six and drove him to the extra cover boundary just before his downfall.
Jennings, who had ten fours in his 117-ball half-century, left anything of good length outside off stump but profited impressively from anything too short. He had no option but to play at the ball which snared him.
It became 238 for seven when Usman Arshad pushed too firmly at Myburgh and edged to slip, but Breese took a liking to his fellow off spinner and Harrison took up where he left off in his careerbest 65 at Northampton.
Runs continued to flow when the second new ball was taken, but Trego nipped one back to have Breese lbw for 45 and Graham Onions quickly went the same way.
He and Rushworth both troubled the Somerset openers and will hope to make swift inroads this morning.
At Durham University.
Durham First Innings
M D Stoneman c Kieswetter b Gregory 11
K K Jennings c Hildreth b Gregory ........80
S G Borthwick c Kieswetter b Trego .....14
M J Richardson c Gregory b Overton ...29
P Mustard lbw b Meschede ..................19
P D Collingwood lbw b Gregory ............36
G R Breese lbw b Trego ........................45
Arshad c Trescothick b Myburgh ......... 5
J Harrison not out .................................37
G Onions lbw b Trego ........................... 0
C Rushworth lbw b Gregory .................. 0
Extras (b1 w1 nb30 pens 0).....32
Total (88 overs) ......................308
Fall: 1-16 2-54 3-119 4-157 5-219 6-222 7-
238 8-303 9-303
Bowling: Gregory 20-7-59-4. Overton 16-
2-79-1. Trego 21-7-61-3. Meschede 16-4-
54-1. Myburgh 14-2-53-1. Hildreth 1-0-1-0.
Somerset First Innings Close
M E Trescothick not out ........................ 6
C R Jones not out ................................. 0
Extras (b1 pens 0) .....................1
Total 0 wkts (6 overs).................7
To Bat: A N Petersen, N R D Compton, J C
Hildreth, C Kieswetter, C A J Meschede, J
G Myburgh, P D Trego, L Gregory, J Overton
Bowling: Onions 3-2-1-0. Rushworth 3-1-