By Richard Latham
Will Jacks’ second half-century of the match guided leaders Surrey to their fourth LV= Insurance County Championship win of the season, a three-wicket success against Somerset at Taunton.
But the home side put up a valiant fight on the final day, Lewis Gregory finishing 110 not out, his fourth first class century, and Peter Siddle making 42 to extend their second innings total from 319 for eight overnight to 394 all out.
That set Surrey 193 to win in excellent batting conditions. They slipped to 70 for three before Jacks followed his first innings 88 with 62 in a total of 195 for seven. Kasey Aldridge claimed a career-best four for 61.
Surrey took 22 points from the game and Somerset only one It was the home side’s fifth defeat in seven Championship games and saw them slip to second from bottom of the First Division table.
Somerset’s ninth-wicket pair of Gregory and Siddle battled away for more than an hour and a half at the start of the day, neither looking in any trouble.
Unbeaten on 71 at the outset, Gregory carried on where he had left off the previous evening, batting with confidence on the now placid surface.
A back-foot forcing shot off leg-spinner Cameron Steel through the covers for his eighth four brought up his hundred off 166 balls.
Siddle looked equally assured as the partnership grew to 91 before the Australian fell lbw to a very full leg stump delivery from Dan Worrall.
Somerset still required a last-wicket stand to hold out much hope. But Marchant de Lange edged his second ball through to wicketkeeper to give Worrall his third wicket.
There was time for three overs of the Surrey second innings before lunch. Ryan Patel struck 2 fours off Siddle to help take the score to 21 by the interval.
Patel and first innings centurion Rory Burns continued to be positive at the start of the afternoon session, the latter pulling Gregory over mid-wicket for six.
Everything was looking straightforward for the visitors until a major wobble on 65, begun by Burns, on 25, pulling a catch to fine-leg off Kasey Aldridge.
Without a run added, Patel was brilliantly caught at slip, one-handed to his left by Gregory off the left-arm spin of Roelof van der Merwe.
Jamie Smith could make only four before having his off stump uprooted by Aldridge and, at 70 for three, Surrey were suddenly on the back foot.
Tall seamer Aldridge went past the outside edge several times. But Ben Geddes and Jacks were unmoved, gradually averting any thought of a crisis.
They built steadily until Jacks eased the tension with 3 fours in an over off van der Merwe. By tea, the pair had added 58 and a further 65 runs were required.
In the final session, Jacks was given a life on 38 when Abell spilled a straightforward chance at second slip off the impressive Aldridge, who struck later in the same over as Geddes, on 25, pulled a short ball straight to square leg.
That brought in Hashim Amla, unable to bat higher after a spell absent from the game through illness, with the total 137 for four and 56 needed.
He fell for nine, lbw to Siddle, and when Abell atoned for his earlier miss with a fine diving slip catch to send back Cameron Steel, Surrey still required 32.
Jacks had hit 12 fours when having his middle stump ejected by Siddle. Jordan Clark and Jamie Overton saw Surrey to their target, leaving Somerset with precious little to show for a hugely spirited effort.
Surrey head coach Gareth Batty said: “I feel like we were pretty much on top on all four days, but all credit to Somerset because they came back fighting,
“We allowed them in at times and it probably got a bit tighter than it needed to be at the end. But it’s the sign of a good team and one that is used to winning that we found a way to make sure we came out on top.
“The bowlers were fantastic in the first innings. Dan Worrall has been great for us on and off the pitch since he walked through the door.
“Rory Burns then batted magnificently in conditions that weren’t easy. He is the best and most consistent opener in the country for me.
“Will Jacks is coming of age as a cricketer. He has been mucked around a bit going up and down the order because of the strength of the squad we have and has never grumbled.”
Aldridge added: “Having only entered the game as a concussion replacement, there wasn’t a lot of pressure on me and I was delighted things went so well.
“It took a monkey off my back getting my maiden first class wicket in the first innings. Today the original ball wasn’t doing much, but when it was changed the replacement started swinging around corners for me, which helped a lot.
“Hopefully, I can push on from here, get more wickets for Somerset and develop into a genuine all-rounder.”