James Rew’s maiden double-century turns screw on Hampshire

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Hampshire 58 for 2 trail Somerset 500 (Rew 221, Aldridge 88, Bess 54, Abbott 4-56, Dawson 4-118) by 442 runs

James Rew confirmed his emergence as the brightest batting prospect in the LV= Insurance County Championship by becoming Somerset’s youngest-ever first-class double-centurion on the second day of the match with Hampshire at Taunton.

At the age of just 19 years and 181 days, Rew extended his overnight score of 77 to 221 before being last man out in his side’s first-innings total of 500, having walked to the crease on day one with the scoreboard reading 41 for 4. The young left-hander’s memorable knock occupied seven hours and 42 minutes, 310 balls, and featured 23 fours and four sixes. His previous four Championship centuries this summer had already established him as the leading run-maker in the competition.

Kasey Aldridge and Dom Bess also contributed to Somerset’s impressive recovery from 80 for 5 before a last-wicket stand of 108 with Shoaib Bashir, who hit a career-best 44 not out, piled on the misery for Hampshire. By the close, the visitors had replied with 58 for 2, having lost Joe Weatherley to the opening ball of their innings after spending a draining 120 overs in the field.

The day was all about wicketkeeper Rew, already an England player at Under-19 and Lions levels, from the moment Somerset began an overcast morning on 196 for 5. He required just one moment of luck when, having added only nine to his overnight score, he was dropped at slip by James Vince off the bowling of Liam Dawson.

A classic cover-driven four off Dawson brought up Rew’s century off 184 balls and the remainder of the innings featured what are fast becoming trademark traits of composure, patience, sound technique and sensible shot selection. There was also a plethora of sweetly timed strokes on both sides of the pitch.

Aldridge, a fellow graduate of their county’s Academy, lost little in comparison as the pair extended their stand to 188, a Somerset record for the sixth wicket against Hampshire. He had hit 13 fours and moved to within 12 of a ton when Dawson found an edge with a ball that turned and wicketkeeper Ben Brown took the catch.

Bess, back with the club where he launched his career, marked the first innings of a short-term loan from Yorkshire by being positive from the start, hitting seven fours and a six in partnership of 94 in 22 overs with Rew before falling to another catch behind off Dawson, who was extracting some help from the dry pitch.

The left-arm spinner quickly cleaned up Alfie Ogbourne, making his first-class debut, and Jack Brooks on his way to figures of 4 for 118. But if Hampshire thought their trials were almost over at 392 for 9, they were proved cruelly mistaken by another 19-year-old in Bashir, who marked only his third Championship appearance by coolly settling in to strike three sixes and three fours in a 61-ball knock.

With Rew cutting loose at the other end, the tenth-wicket stand occupied less than 17 overs. The ball flew to and over a short boundary on the town side of the ground with increasing regularity before an on-driven single took Rew to 200 off 297 balls, a moment he greeted with an understated clenched fist salute.

His marathon display of concentration ended when Vince, who had introduced himself into the bowling attack for the first time at 480 for 9, trapped him lbw looking to clear the ropes again. Several Hampshire players offered handshakes as the fresh-faced hero of the hour left the field to a standing ovation.

It seemed the day could not get worse for Hampshire. But after tea had been taken, Brooks penetrated Weatherley’s defence with his first delivery to knock back off stump. Fletcha Middleton and Nick Gubbins had responded aggressively with an unbroken stand of 39 when the rain that threatened for most of the day arrived to interrupt proceedings.

The resumption brought another first-ball drama, Middleton fending a steeply rising delivery from Aldridge to third slip and departing for 24. The rain returned with seven runs added and another restart at 5.45pm saw 4.2 more overs bowled before a third shower and stumps.

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