Somerset declined the opportunity to rub Northamptonshire’s noses in the dirt on day two of the LV= County Championship fixture at the County Ground.
When David Willey was caught behind off Alfonso Thomas for a typically brutal 53, the hosts’ total was five short of the follow-on target but, rather surprisingly, Marcus Trescothick chose to bat for a second time.
Given that the visitors had required less than 60 overs to work their way through a batting order not on first name terms with the concept of form, fatigue, even given their schedule, wouldn’t have been an issue.
Perhaps they had studied the form, seen that the County, including today’s effort, had managed to exceed 300 three times out of 21 and thought that using up some time wouldn’t really make that much difference.
Or maybe they just didn’t want to bat last on a pitch that is providing consistent assistance to the seamers.
Whatever the reason, they didn’t despite the fact that everything pointed to that being the correct thing to do.
And there must have been a few doubts when Trescothick and Nick Compton, both hit in front to Willey and Muhammad Azharullah respectively, were having a shower before the score had made it double figures.
That wasn’t the County’s last success of the day though as Colin Ingram fell in the final over of the day, lbw to James Middlebrook, but it is still the visitors who hold the upper hand with a lead of 226 and six wickets remaining.
First thing in the morning, the last rites of Somerset’s first innings didn;t last too long as Andrew Hall found the edge of George Dockrell’s backward defensive.
A total of 375 appeared to be in excess of par and by the time the lunch break arrived that was very much the case.
Middlebrook, Richard Levi and Rob Newton all fell to Lewis Gregory - caught behind, taken at first slip and leg before - before 50 had been put on the board and when Matt Spriegel parried a Peter Trego bouncer to third slip in the session’s final over, things looked pretty bleak.
James Kettleborough, who had battled away gamely, edged Craig Overton behind soon after the resumption and half of the order was gone with 71 posted.
Adam Rossington, who survived a loud appeal for a caught behind off Trego on 30, and Kyle Coetzer provided some resistance along with a few crisp boundaries but neither hinted at permanence and they fell in quick succession, the former dragging on from Thomas and the latter providing Gregory with victim number four.
Andrew Hall and Olly Stone fell to Gregory to give the seamer his first ever six-wicket haul and it should have been seven a couple of balls later only for sub wicketkeeper Alex Barrow to make a right mess of a regulation edge from Azharullah.
Thirty-eight short of the follow-on, Willey was forced to go on the offensive which took him past 50 as Trescothick tried to keep him off strike, but when James Hildreth put down a simple chance to reprieve Azharullah five short of the target, it appeared that the chance had gone.
But Willey, driving at a wide Thomas offering, fell two deliveries later and another innings reverse, for a few minutes at least, was a possibility.