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Jon Culley at Trent Bridge
July 14, 2011
Somerset 386 and 426 drew with Nottinghamshire 492 and 41 for 2
It has been a disappointing season for both these sides, who began as co-favourites for the Championship but will be happy enough now to steer clear of relegation. The safety of mid-table seems an attractive proposition, which may explain why a match that had notable highlights in the shape of three high-quality centuries ended in a very tame draw.
There could have been an interesting finish. When Somerset's lead, 91 overnight, reached 250, there were around 50 overs left in the match and Marcus Trescothick might have pulled out and invited Nottinghamshire to have a go. But if temptation did show itself, it was only to be passed up. He invited the home side instead to bowl his team out.
Thanks largely to Andre Adams and Samit Patel, whose left-arm spin took four wickets, Notts took up the invitation successfully. But by the time they did so only 34 overs remained and the target of 321 was purely academic. There was little reluctance to shake hands and go home when five o'clock arrived.
Appropriately enough, the significant innings of a forgettable day was a forgettable hundred from Nick Compton, whose growing penchant is for solid, dependable displays unadorned with flights of fancy, which is forgivable given that he still struggles to recapture the productive form of his early Middlesex days.
It would not have been his grandfather's idea of fun but it is getting the job done. This season, bolstered considerably by his epic nine-hour unbeaten 254 against Durham at The Riverside, threatens to be his best since 2003, when his first full season at Middlesex yielded 1315 first-class runs, including six centuries.
He ground out 115 here over six and a half hours before a splendid diving catch by Riki Wessels at short extra cover gave Steven Mullaney his wicket. He struck 14 boundaries but probably turned down as many, preferring not to take the risk.
There was good support for him, first from Chris Jones, a 20-year-old Devonian who has played first-class matches for Durham University but was batting for the first time in the Championship. He appeared against Lancashire last season as a nominated replacement for Craig Kieswetter but did not bat or bowl.
He earned his call-up for this match after hitting 149 for Somerset 2nds last week and showed sound technique in a tidy 55 and had just despatched Patel through the covers for his 10th boundary when the left-armer found a little extra bounce to have him caught at slip.
James Hildreth, whose first-innings 137 had been one of the highlights, hit 39 in rapid time before slicing Luke Fletcher to backward point. Kieswetter, who had shared a 290-run partnership with Hildreth in scoring 164 in the first innings, fell for 21 this time, one of two leg-before victims in the space of three overs for Adams, whose dismissal of Peter Trego at 361 for 6 might have prompted the declaration had Trescothick been interested.
Instead, the Somerset skipper allowed the tailenders to swing the bat, which the seam bowler Adam Dibble did with some success on his first-class debut, crashing 39 not out off only 35 balls, including a four and two sixes in the same over off Mullaney. The others were picked off by Patel, who finished with 4 for 70.
Stuart Broad's bowling was again a mixed bag as he sought to regain his form ahead of the opening Test against India. He found a couple of snorters for Kieswetter but nine overs on the day yielded no wickets, although they did take his contribution to the two innings to 53.4 overs, which is the largest number he has sent down in a single match, curiously enough. Given that he has been bowling with his left heel padded and his right ankle strapped, this might seem an odd preparation.
Notts faced 15 overs in the end, during which Wessels was caught behind and Alex Hales followed his brilliant 184 with a rather more ordinary 18 before giving a return catch to Arul Suppiah.
But it was all fairly meaningless and Mick Newell, the Notts director of cricket, signalled his satisfaction with the outcome by declining the chance to criticise Trescothick's caution. His side, after all, had lost four times in a row before this match.
"We will take 11 points for the draw," he said. "It was important that we stopped losing and got some batting points on the board."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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