April 21, 2001

Fairbrother makes Somerset pay for sloppy effort in the field

Neil Fairbrother punished Somerset for a dreadful fielding display as Lancashire closed in on victory in the CricInfo Championship first division match at Taunton.

By the close of the second day, Somerset were 106-6 in their second innings, needing 68 to make Lancashire bat again.

It should have been a lot different. But Somerset dropped eight chances in the field and allowed Fairbrother and Gary Keedy to accumulate 98 for the last wicket, which stretched the total to 378.

Fairbrother played superbly and, although he was dropped on 93, 105 and 130, all the chances came from attacking shots when last man Keedy was with him at the crease.

He reached his hundred from 138 deliveries and finished with 179 not out from 201 balls. There were 27 fours, a six over long on and a five in his innings.

Keedy, who batted with a runner after he injured his back in the opening overs of Friday's play, offered admirable support, although he contributed only eight to the partnership.

Somerset's fielding was in sharp contrast to Lancashire, who have held nearly everything that has come their way so far.

Another costly lapse for Somerset came in the morning session when Joe Scuderi was dropped on nine by Graham Rose at slip.

Scuderi unleashed some handsome off side drives in his 48 before Keith Parsons bowled him. And his stand of 83 in 20 overs with Fairbrother put Lancashire in command.

Somerset's misery was completed by some poor batting second time around. Skipper Jamie Cox and Mike Burns departed within three overs, then Fairbrother returned to the spotlight by grasping fine catches to remove Peter Bowler and Keith Parsons off Mike Smethurst.

Rob Turner also fell to Smethurst, who finished the day with 3-13 from nine overs, while Rose was caught at square leg off Scuderi.

Piran Holloway has restored some pride for Somerset, with an unbeaten 52, while former Middlesex man Richard Johnson bowled well in the Lancashire innings to return 5-107 on his debut.

But Lancashire look odds on to gain a victory that would put them in good heart ahead of this week's meeting with champions Surrey.