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April 15, 2014
Somerset 530 for 9 (Myburgh 91, Jones 75, Gregory 69, Plunkett 4-108) lead Yorkshire 450 (Lyth 85, Rashid 108) by 80 runs
Johann Myburgh has been around the cricketing houses. He has played in South Africa and in New Zealand, where, with Canterbury, he was coached by Dave Nosworthy, and has had stints with Hampshire and Durham.
At the age of 33, he does not represent Somerset's future. He could also be said to be keeping George Dockrell and Max Waller, the county's young and promising spinners, out of the side.
In fairness, this is not necessarily a like for like selection, in that Myburgh is effectively a batsman who bowls - rather flat off breaks. And it is hard to quibble with his selection - by the aforementioned Nosworthy as well as Marcus Trescothick - for this match.
He made 91 on what, even after all the winter rain, is an unmarked and rather lifeless pitch, in addition to having bowled 21 overs and taken a couple of wickets in Yorkshire's first innings. There was a little turn on this, the third day, so we should see more of him when Yorkshire bat again.
Somerset responded to Yorkshire's total of 450 by taking a first innings lead of 80, which was no mean achievement given that Trescothick and Nick Compton contributed little with the bat. Instead, James Hildreth made 67, Craig Kieswetter 63 and Lewis Gregory, who flung the bat from the first ball he faced, 69, his career-best score. Myburgh, however, came up with the innings of the day.
He is a squat man, has a decent first-class average (43.10) and is quick to spot a gap in the field. This being Taunton, he will find the ball comes onto the bat and can disappear speedily off it. While Kieswetter was keen to go for the more expansive shots - a pulled six off Jack Brooks and a lofted drive into the Ian Botham Stand - Myburgh, the elder brother, incidentally, of Stephan Myburgh of Netherlands fame, was more circumspect.
It was his highest score in England, made with ten fours. "I am not too much of a stats guy but it is always disappointing not to score a century," he admitted. "I never felt finished with the game after I left Hampshire and Durham - I had only a short contract with one, predominantly in white ball cricket, and at Southampton things just didn't work out. But I have always believed in the ability I was given."
Before all that, Alviro Petersen had gone in Kane Williamson's first over, caught behind off what looked to be an arm ball, and Hildreth had reached 11,000 runs in first-class cricket before he was leg before aiming to swipe Brooks to leg. Kieswetter, who added 112 with Myburgh and who struck seven fours and two sixes, was looking set for a first century of the season - a riposte to those who feel Somerset should have retained Jos Buttler - when he was taken at slip off Williamson.
On the boundary, Dickie Bird, now Yorkshire's president, was attracting as much interest as the cricket. He did not turn down a request for an autograph or an interview even after one had been technologically bungled. Not that Botham would have thanked him for not remembering, standing as he was in the Botham Stand, the identity of England's leading wicket taker. There is a boyish enthusiasm for the game, and for the people he encounters all day, that remains delightful to observe.
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