|Scorecard:||Yorkshire v Somerset|
Overnight: Yorkshire 296; Somerset 58/1 (J Francis 26*, Ponting 15*)
Lunch: Somerset 243/2 off 53 overs (J Francis 93*, Hildreth 10*)
Tea: Somerset 434/7 off 90 overs (Dutch 12*, Turner 2*)
Close: Somerset 451; Yorkshire 63/3 off 23 overs (Wood 25*, Harvey 5*)
Struggling Somerset found Yorkshire just the tonic they needed to revive their fortunes as the home side endured another dismal day at Scarborough. They took a first-innings lead of 155 runs and by the close were still 92 runs ahead and had taken three vital Yorkshire wickets in the second innings. They will be hoping to wrap up an outright victory even on the third day.
The weather was warm and sunny as play began, but it soon clouded over and remained generally cloudy, with occasional brief periods of sun. There was another large holiday crowd of more than three thousand.
The spectre of injury was soon evident, although not of the usual kind: it was umpire Mark Benson who was unable to stand due to a foot injury, and Yorkshire bowling coach Steve Oldham had to stand in at square leg, while Barry Dudleston took the bowler’s end at both sides.
Steve Kirby, out of bowling form recently, almost made a sensational start to the morning. His second ball reared viciously at Ricky Ponting, forcing a hurried defensive stroke, and his next ball, equally testing, squirted to fine leg off the inside edge. Then came an excited appeal for a catch at the wicket, which umpire Dudleston turned down. With Chris Silverwood also bowling well from the other end, the Somerset batsmen suddenly found themselves seriously tested for the first time.
But Ponting survived the early onslaught, the bowling reverted almost to normal; and Ponting flourished, cracking boundaries as easily as if they were nuts, while John Francis lent useful support. Francis added four runs while Ponting raced to his fifty, off 54 balls, and another 35 to his overnight total. His straight and off-side driving were particularly impressive, while his pulling excelled on the rare occasions he was given a chance. He was then almost bowled by Harvey, perhaps taking the keeper so much by surprise that the ball missed the stumps that he let it go through for four byes.
Kirby returned for a second spell and again troubled Ponting at first, keeping him on 66 for a considerable time. He had just scampered a single to take him finally to 67 when reserve umpire Richard Kettleborough arrived from Middleton where he had been umpiring a second-team match, to take over from Oldham.
Then Francis, who had scored 9 runs in 78 minutes during the morning, suddenly came to life and drove Richard Dawson for two sixes in an over. Before long he had gone to his fifty off 116 balls, and then really began to open up with more aggression, reaching 65 by the end of the next over, sweeping and cutting powerfully. Then he enjoyed a life, coming down the pitch to Dawson and having the ball come off his pads to silly mid-off, who missed a shy at the stumps.
Ian Harvey disappointed as a bowler and took some punishment, 15 coming off one over. Then Ponting became only the fifth player to score a century when making his debut for Somerset in a championship match, achieved in style by stepping down the pitch and lofting Dawson for six over wide long-on. It took him 115 balls. It also brought up the 200 with just one wicket down, and Yorkshire were suffering severely for their mediocre batting of the first day.
Mark Lawson was again brought on just before the interval, but Francis hoisted him over the leg boundary to beat his previous highest score of 82. Immediately afterwards he lost Ponting for 112; the Australian tried to work Dawson on the leg side and was well caught by Andrew Gale, stretching at silly mid-off to take the catch off a leading edge. Ponting faced 133 balls and hit 15 fours and 2 sixes. The pair had added 197, and Somerset were 228 for two.
Lawson took more punishment as James Hildreth got off the mark with a straight drive for four, and then pulled him into the midwicket benches for six – and this was the last over before lunch. After the interval, with Kirby returning, he scored four more with a nudge through the slips, along the ground, and then found the gap less accurately later in the over, to be caught by Matthew Wood at second slip. Somerset were 251 for three.
Michael Burns came in and immediately began striking the ball firmly. He gave the stage to Francis, though, who finally reached his maiden century, a fine effort of concentration and strokeplay, off 171 balls. He still showed no inclination to get out, knuckling down again, except when Harvey bowled a long hop that he was able to pull for six. Then finally he slashed at a ball from Silverwood outside the off stump and was caught by the wicketkeeper Ismail Dawood for 109. He faced 188 balls and hit 11 fours and 4 sixes.
Ian Blackwell was helped on his way by another Harvey long hop that he could pull for six, followed by an action replay later in the over. Burns flourished with him, although he was dropped off a hard chance to square leg on 43. He went to his fifty off 41 balls, mainly through hitting the dross for boundaries. When Dawson replaced Harvey, Blackwell hit him into the North Marine Parade with a massive slog-sweep, with two more to follow in the next over, the second also out of the ground. His fifty came off 34 balls.
Sixes continued to fly from Blackwell’s bat, as the Yorkshire bowling appeared totally incompetent. Twice the ball had to be replaced. The 400 came up after 78 overs, with only four wickets down, a sign of Somerset’s dominance. Darren Lehmann eventually effected the breakthrough, as Blackwell hammered him straight into the midriff of Dawson at midwicket. He made 73 off 64 balls, with 4 fours and 6 sixes; 405 for five.
Aaron Laraman began tentatively, but then appeared to settle, drove a handsome upright four and then drove Lehmann straight at Michael Lumb at mid-on, to depart for 9; 415 for six. Then the batting stagnated a little until Burns, trying to speed things up, overbalanced when he swung at Dawson, the ball coming off his pad, and he was stumped by Dawood for 74 off 94 balls; 431 for seven.
After tea, Turner did not add to his single before he drove at Dawson and was brilliantly caught by the diving Harvey at second slip; 436 for eight. Simon Francis (1) swung at Lawson and was bowled at 451 for nine, and the very next ball last man Nixon McLean swung a catch straight to Dawson at long leg to bring the innings to a close. Dutch was left unbeaten on 9.
Somerset therefore took a lead of 155 on first innings. Dawson finished with the best figures, despite all the sixes hit off him, three for 79. There were two wickets each for Silverwood, Lawson and Lehmann.
When Yorkshire went in again, Andrew Gale, to his relief, was able to push McLean into the covers and take a single to avoid his pair. The aggressive Wood hit a handsome boundary off the front foot through the covers, six runs coming off the first over.
The opening stand put on 19 and was looking sound before Gale (9) slashed at McLean and was brilliantly caught at third slip by Dutch, diving far to his left to pluck the ball almost off the ground. Worse was to follow at 35 as Lumb (11), having played a superb pull for four, hooked at McLean and was caught off the glove by wicketkeeper Turner.
Anthony McGrath played a couple of fine strokes in his 12, but once again a Yorkshire batsman was guilty of a soft dismissal, having made a start to his innings. He went for a big hit off Dutch, checked his stroke and holed out at mid-on, reducing Yorkshire to 54 for three.
Harvey came in next, and tempted both fate and umpire Kettleborough by blatantly exercising his pad rather than his bat outside the off stump to Dutch. But he survived until the close, although Yorkshire will have to play much better if they as a team are to survive until the close on the morrow.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)