Somerset toil as Weatherley's best puts Hampshire in control

Hampshire's Joe Weatherley in batting action against Somerset

Hampshire's Joe Weatherley in batting action against Somerset - Credit: PA

Joe Weatherley masterfully scored his highest LV= Insurance County Championship score as Hampshire racked up a massive first-innings lead on Somerset.

Opening batter Weatherley had only previously scored one first-class century, an unbeaten 126 against Lancashire in 2018, but waltzed to a brilliant 168.

Ian Holland and the typically stylish James Vince notched half-centuries as Hampshire rode to 428 and into a first-innings advantage of 248 runs.
Ben Green, after taking three for 31, and Tom Lammonby weathered six overs under the lights to end the day 15 without loss.

During one of the many rain delays during a soggy Bob Willis Trophy meeting with Essex in 2020, Weatherley approached Sir Alastair Cook for some advice. 

The biggest takeaway from a wide-ranging discussion about the mental, physical, tactical and technical aspects of opening the batting was Cook’s advice of: “making big scores when he gets in”.

Last season only mustered a disappointing 406 red ball runs, with a top score of 78, as ‘getting in’ proved difficult. However, his one-day skills increased exponentially, ending up the sixth-highest scorer in the Vitality Blast – which earned him a Hundred contract with Southern Brave earlier this week.

Where in the previous winter those white ball abilities were at the forefront of his training, this off-season he sought to rebalance his attention. 
A lean pre-season saw more focus on his position in the team, with worries that he might be the weak link in Hampshire’s push for a first Championship since 1973.

But the winter work with coaches Tony Middleton, Jimmy Adams and Graeme Welch appeared to pay dividends on a helpful pitch. 
Weatherley concentrated on a more side-on and compact stance, which when coupled with his stillness, has helped improve his alignment and allowed him to play the ball later. The white-ball advancement has also aided him to avoid blocking himself into a shell.

The highly-popular Weatherley brought up his 179-ball century with a drive through mid-wicket. He needed a moment to compose himself before raising his bat to a packed home balcony and receiving a long hug from Nick Gubbins.

Opening partner Ian Holland was equally confident in his 81, as the duo wiped out exactly Somerset’s first-innings score of 180 in domineering style.
The USA-born Australian departed when turning to leg slip, but not before celebrating Hampshire’s highest first-wicket stand since 2016.

Somerset’s inexperienced attack rued most of the day but found a purple patch on either side of the second new ball. 
Gubbins feathered behind for an aesthetically pleasing 37, Weatherley was bowled shouldering his arms and Liam Dawson cut to cover – the latter two wickets handing Peter Siddle and Ned Leonard their maiden scalps for Somerset.

James Vince began his season with a dismissive backfoot drive to the cover boundary as he totted up runs at a rapid rate – his half-century coming in 64 deliveries – as Hampshire’s score kept rising.

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The captain was lbw for 56 and James Fuller was caught behind, before Green belatedly entered the attack to claim a career-best three late wickets – Ben Brown jabbed him to midwicket, Felix Organ was knocked over and Kyle Abbott lost his off stump.

A run out ended the Hampshire innings before Abbott and Keith Barker gave Green and Tom Lammonby a working over in a tricky end of day spell.