April 14, 2003

Simon Francis takes a hat trick but the students hold on for a draw

The Somerset pace attack gave just a hint of what lies in store for their supporters when they reduced Loughborough UCCE to 90 for 6 at the County Ground before the students recovered to 132 for 7 to hang on for a draw in their three day match that ended today.

Resuming on their overnight total of 160 without loss, Peter Bowler and Rob Turner moved comfortably onto 191 before Bowler was dismissed for 84.

Skipper Mike Burns joined Turner and took the score onto 307 before the wicket-keeper retired hurt on 139, which brought Ian Blackwell to the crease.

The second wicket pair of Burns and Blackwell added 120 in just 13 overs before Somerset declared on 427 for 1 at 2.25 pm. By the time the innings closed Burns had reached 118, whilst Blackwell had blasted his way to an unbeaten 75, from 46 balls which included 3 x 6's and 10 x 4's.

Facing a daunting 496 for victory Nixon McLean quickly made inroads into the Loughborough students second innings when he removed Rob White in his second over as the Northants youngster gave a catch to Richard Johnson at mid off, to give the West Indian his first wicket for his new county.

The students moved onto 35 before McLean struck again a few overs later, when he tempted Jimmy Adams into edging a catch to Rob Turner.

Simon Francis was looking equally as dangerous, but bowling without much luck, until the seventeenth over when with the score on 60 he claimed his first scalp when he held on to a caught and bowled chance from his brother John who had made 20.

The game appeared to be slipping towards an inevitable draw when Francis suddenly brought it back to life when he struck again in the twentieth over taking a hat trick to reduce Loughborough from 90 for 3 to 90 for 6 in the space of just three balls.

McLean claimed another wicket with the score on 107, when he had David Wigley caught by Rob Turner, but the Loughborough eighth wicket pair held on bravely to reach 132 for 7 at the close, by which time Vikram Atri had reached an unbeaten 57.

The Somerset pace duo claimed all of the wickets to fall, with Francis ending with 4 for 47, whilst McLean took 3 for 49.

At the end of the day Somerset captain Mike Burns said: "This has been a very useful run out for us against one of the strongest university sides. Simon Francis bowled well, and has probably bowled his way into the team for Friday, whilst Nixon McLean had a good spell and took wickets."

West Indian Test star McLean said: "I just wanted to get some more overs under my belt and I was pleased with the way that it went for me today. Towards the end there was a bit more in the wicket for me, but it was just nice to register my first wickets for my new county."

Meanwhile due to a cancellation the Centre of Excellence at the County Ground is able to offer individual coaching at at special discount price over the next three days.

Somerset Cricket Development Oficer Andrew Moulding told me: "In view of the last minute cancellation we can now offer individual coaching at the bargain price of £20 for one hour , which discounts further to £18 for Somerset members."

These sessions are only available during the daytime this week and anyone interested in taking advantage of the offer should contact the Centre of Excellence on 01823 352266.