sport

Horton century leads Lancs

Paul Horton returned to the scene of his highest score for Lancashire to hit a fighting century on the opening day of the LV=County Championship Division One match with Somerset at Taunton.

The 31-year-old opener, who scored 173 in the corresponding match five years ago, played a solo hand with 140 as his side struggled to 221 for six, having won the toss. None of the other batsmen reached 20.

Horton faced 256 balls and hit 21 fours. But Jos Buttler's hopes of a big score on his first return to the County Ground since leaving Somerset were scuppered when he fell for 18.

There were two wickets each for Alfonso Thomas and Lewis Gregory, who both emerged with credit for their accuracy and economy.

After the start had been delayed by rain until 12.05pm, Lancashire progressed steadily to 30 in the 16th over when Alex Davies edged Peter Trego to third slip where Alviro Petersen pouched a straightforward catch.

By lunch the visitors had battled their way to 47 for one off 23 overs. Usman Khawaja fell to the second ball he faced after the interval, miscuing an attempted pull shot off Thomas to Chris Jones at mid-on and departing for nine.

Ashwell Prince soon followed, lbw to Thomas on the back foot playing across the line for five, and at 71 for three Somerset could feel well satisfied with their efforts.

Horton reached a sound half-century off 115 balls with a sumptuous extra cover drive for four off Craig Overton. But on 54 he survived a chance to James Hildreth, an edge flashing between the first slip and wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter.

The total had moved to 112 when Lancashire lost their fourth wicket, Steven Croft, on 18, well caught by Kieswetter as he edged a sweep shot off left-arm spinner George Dockrell.

That brought in Buttler to a warm ovation from both sets of supporters. His second scoring shot was a six off Dockrell, lifted handsomely over long-off as Lancashire moved to 130 for four at tea.

The fifth ball after the interval saw Buttler hit another six off Dockrell, this time with one hand off the bat, which did not stop the ball sailing over long-on and into the River Tone.

Thomas had a bit of fun at the expense of his old team-mate, threatening to run out Buttler backing-up, as had happened to him in the one-day international series between England and Sri Lanka. This time it was all smiles as Thomas gave Buttler a friendly hug before going back to restart his run-up.

Horton was on 99 when Buttler had his off stump uprooted by a good length, seaming delivery from Gregory, who claimed his 50th first-class wicket.

Tom Smith got off the mark with a Chinese cut off Gregory for four, the ball just missing his leg stump. Horton then brought up his century, pulling a short ball from Dockrell to the mid-wicket boundary for his 16th four, having faced 209 balls.

The second new ball was taken at 214 for five in the 81st over. It soon accounted for Horton, leg before on the back foot trying to work Gregory through the leg side.

At the close, Horton said: "Every first-class hundred you score is special. I had been averaging under 30 this season and that was my motivation because it isn't good enough for an opening batsman.

"It's a dry pitch, which won't get any better so if we can push on to 300 tomorrow I think we will be well in the game."

Gregory said: "It's a slow pitch, which means it isn't easy to bat or bowl on it. We're pleased with our efforts so far and need to come out with the same approach tomorrow."