ADIL RASHID gave the England selectors an early nudge with a century for Yorkshire as they retained the initiative in their opening LV= County Championship match against Somerset during day two at Taunton.
The all-rounder hit 108 off 190 balls, his third century in as many four-day matches against Somerset, as Yorkshire reached a healthy first-innings total of 450, including five batting points.
They were, however, well placed to bat Somerset out of the game at 402-5.
Liam Plunkett then took two of the three home wickets to fall as Somerset closed on 166-3 from 57 overs. They need 301 to avoid the follow-on.
Rashid’s form with the bat is starting to turn heads. After last summer yielded 825 Championship runs with three hundreds, he has started this campaign in equally impressive fashion.
Now, if he is to build upon his five one-day and five Twenty20 international appearances in 2009, it would seem all he has to is get in among the wickets with his leg-spin. He took 29 wickets at an average of 46.82 in 2013.
Yorkshire president Dickie Bird is present at Taunton, and encouragingly he said during a first-day visit to the press box: “I watched him bowl in the nets this morning, and he’s back to where he was a few years ago.”
Captain Andrew Gale shares a similarly optimistic view about Rashid’s future: “If you look at Graeme Swann’s retirement, there’s no one really putting their hand up as a frontline spinner for England,” he said.
“The lad’s 26-years-old, and he is just coming into his prime. He’s got over 300 first-class wickets, and we’ve seen what he can do with the bat.
“There’s no reason why, during the next year or maybe two, he can’t represent England.”
Rashid and Andrew Hodd, who impressed for 55, continued their sixth-wicket partnership on the second morning, taking it to 108 in 30 overs.
But that was when Somerset started their recovery which was stunted by two Plunkett wickets after tea.
Craig Overton and Johann Myburgh took two wickets apiece as Yorkshire were bowled out just after lunch before Chris Jones (75) and Nick Compton shared 91 for the second wicket to take Somerset to 127-1 after tea.
Plunkett then bowled Compton and had Jones caught at leg slip by Alex Lees during a hostile spell which saw him switch to bowling round the wicket in time to hit Jones flush on the helmet with a short ball and then send him packing.
“I'm not looking too much into the England stuff at the moment,” admitted Rashid, who said Yorkshire were happy with their position in the match.
“Hopefully, I can have another one or two good seasons with Yorkshire with the bat and ball and then maybe it could get looked into.
"We would have taken this (position in the game). When you come to Somerset, it's always a hard place to get a result. But we've got them three down, and hopefully we can knock them over for less than 300 or 350 and win the game.
"All the seamers bowled well. Siddy started it off nicely by getting Trescothick, and Plunkett changed the game a bit with two wickets in his last spell."
LV= County Championship
Somerset v Yorkshire
(Somerset won toss)
Yorkshire First Innings
A Lyth c Gregory b Overton 85
A Z Lees b Meschede 34
K S Williamson c Jones b Meschede 0
A W Gale lbw b Meschede 24
G S Ballance lbw b Gregory 77
A U Rashid c Kieswetter b Overton 108
A J Hodd c Trescothick b Overton 55
L E Plunkett not out 19
R J Sidebottom c Trescothick b Myburgh 13
S A Patterson b Thomas 7
J A Brooks lbw b Myburgh 6
Extras (lb10 w2 nb10) 22
Total (132.5 overs) 450
Fall: 1-69 2-71 3-133 4-179 5-294 6-402 7-403 8-430 9-441.
Bowling: Thomas 29-5-80-1, Gregory 30-7-113-1, Meschede 28-5-105-3, Overton 24-6-72-3, Myburgh 21.5-0-70-2.
Somerset First Innings
M E Trescothick b Sidebottom 20
C R Jones c Lees b Plunkett 75
N R D Compton b Plunkett 32
A N Petersen not out 12
J C Hildreth not out 16
Extras (b5 lb2 nb4) 11
Total 3 wkts (57 overs) 166
Fall: 1-36 2-127 3-136.
Bowling: Sidebottom 13-4-33-1, Brooks 13-4-32-0, Patterson 15-5-35-0, Plunkett 12-0-48-2, A U Rashid 3-0-11-0, Lyth 1-1-0-0.