LIAM DAWSON has been backed to stake a positive first-team claim on his return to the Hampshire side.
The all-rounder was dropped for the County Championship win over Sussex last time out but has returned to the ranks for the home clash with Somerset.
With James Vince away on England duty for tomorrow’s one-off t20 international with New Zealand at Old Trafford, the 25-year-old has been handed another chance in the line-up, although he may have to slot in at number four with Sean Terry expected to open the innings alongside skipper Jimmy Adams again.
Dawson has been short of big scores so far this season but has certainly not been completely out of touch with the bat.
He has a highest of 40, which came in the clash with Yorkshire, but has often got himself into the 30s and then got out – a source of frustration for both the player and the coaching staff.
But he showed he also provides a useful extra dimension to the bowling attack as he picked up two for 59 from 18 overs – including the key wicket of Tom Abell (88) – as Somerset closed day one on 310 for six.
Director of cricket Giles White believes there is now an extra element of competition for places with James Tomlinson also back in the side after Fidel Edwards’ departure.
White said: ‘Dawson was good. He spun a couple past the bat and it was a very good ball to get rid of Abell who was well set.
‘He bowled with good control and it was good to see him and Danny Briggs working in tandem, which we don’t see a lot in the early part of the season.
‘Hopefully those two can pair up and have an influence on this game.
‘The players coming back into the side are quality players. Liam was very good and I was very pleased for him to get some overs.
‘The nature of the wickets we play on when you bowl spin you don’t always get the overs that you want.
‘It was a good opportunity for him to bowl well and show us what he can do.
‘That’s good for him and good for the team.
‘When players are left out, you always think they will respond positively. They are good characters.
‘Liam went away and was picked for the second team and came back in with James Vince with England.
‘We hope Liam can back it up with some runs which will be great. James Tomlinson has also worked hard.
‘He always gives 100 per cent and he’s been excellent for us over the years.
‘He’s had a lean spell recently and it was nice to see him get an important wicket.’
White added: ‘The boys worked hard throughout the day.
‘Somerset are slightly ahead but not by a long way.
‘We need a couple of early wickets to get in to bat as soon as we can.’