James Anderson hit form in time for England’s forthcoming Test series against Sri Lanka with three wickets in five balls for Lancashire against Somerset in the County Championship.
Only James Hildreth’s battling century spared Somerset’s blushes on the third day, with last season’s leading run-scorer in first-class cricket making 130 after a middle-order collapse sparked by Anderson.
Jamie Overton contributed 51 to an eighth-wicket stand of 139, which frustrated the visitors after Somerset had slumped to 150 for seven on a flat pitch in bright sunshine.
They were eventually bowled out for 313 but, thanks largely to Hildreth’s efforts, there was only time for one over of their second innings, which was negotiated successfully by nightwatchman Tim Groenewald.
With a lead of 180, Lancashire will still cherish victory hopes, particularly if the pitch wears significantly, but Somerset will expect to bat better second time around.
The day began with the hosts 14 without loss in reply to Lancashire’s 493 but the first ball of the second over saw Marcus Trescothick play too early and offer a comfortable return catch to Kyle Jarvis, having made only five.
Chris Rogers joined Tom Abell and the pair took the score to 76 with few alarms before Abell fell lbw pushing forward to the left-arm spin of Simon Kerrigan.
Rogers reached his first Championship half-century for Somerset and with conditions looking so much in the batsmen’s favour, the experienced Australian looked to have laid the foundation for a big score until Anderson intervened.
In his last game before preparing for the Test series against Sri Lanka, England’s leading wicket taker had Rogers play forward to depart to a catch at short cover with the first ball of the 43rd over.
Roelof van der Merwe played around Anderson’s next delivery and fell lbw, and although Peter Trego survived the hat-trick attempt, the fifth ball struck him high on a pad and after some deliberation umpire Alex Wharf raised his finger.
Anderson’s seven-over spell after lunch brought three for 19, and Ryan Davies was stumped advancing down the pitch to Kerrigan before Craig Overton was bowled by a good length ball from Jarvis as Somerset collapsed.
Hildreth looked untroubled and at last found a reliable partner in Jamie Overton, who mixed his natural aggression with sensible defence as the pair mounted a recovery.
Hildreth moved to a chanceless and typically fluent hundred off 169 deliveries with his 12th four, a sumptuous cover drive off Anderson.
Overton reached his fourth first-class half-century off 89 balls, with seven fours, and was within five of matching his career-best 56 when caught behind off a bottom edge looking to cut a wide ball from Neil Wagner.
Jack Leach soon followed, but Hildreth had almost ensured Somerset would not start their second innings until the final day when caught on the midwicket boundary, pulling a short delivery from Wagner.