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Ivo Tennant at Taunton
April 16, 2014
i>Somerset 553 (Myburgh 91, Jones 75, Gregory 69, Hildreth 67, Kieswetter 63) drew with Yorkshire 450 (Rashid 108, Lyth 85, Ballance 77, Hodd 55) and 193 for 4 dec (Lyth 54, Williamson 57)
If ever a match petered out on the final day, this was it. Although Somerset gained a first innings lead of 103, 93 of those runs were knocked off before lunch by the Yorkshire openers and the last two sessions provided nothing more stimulating than the boosting of averages.
The weather was balmy, the crowd somnolent and the pitch lifeless. For a change, there was no danger of anyone being locked in the County Ground: even the omnipresent Dickie Bird had long departed by late afternoon.
Somerset's total of 553 was their highest since July 2011, which might explain why there was no proper balance between bat and ball. That and four cloudless days of scant movement, an unlikely occurrence at this time of year. The intention was that the leading batsmen would all have the opportunity to play long innings and, with the exception of Marcus Trescothick, who was out for 20, that goal was achieved.
George Dockrell remains Somerset's first choice as spinner, but was omitted here because he has not bowled with a Duke ball for the past six months. His turn will come, and soon, because Johann Myburgh is unlikely to bowl any first division opposition out once, let alone twice in a match.
Somerset have some tricky selections over the coming weeks, for their next three matches are Durham and Sussex on their own grounds, and Nottinghamshire, the bookies favourite, at Taunton in early May.
A further Somerset batsman achieved a half century in the morning. Craig Meschede managed this with seven fours and two sixes, and was still at the crease when Steven Patterson had Craig Overton leg before. This first innings lead did not, though, last for long. Alex Lees tucked the new ball bowlers away off his hip, drove Myburgh's off spin for six and nothing seemed more likely than that he would bat all afternoon.
Meschede, however, had him taken at the wicket after lunch, Adam Lyth went to James Hildreth's decidedly under-used military medium, and Andrew Gale was held down the leg side just before tea, off Alviro Petersen. Here, then, was the ideal chance for Gary Ballance to pick up some cheap runs in his quest to retain the England place he acquired in Australia: alas for him, he was held at short extra cover off Myburgh. If anyone played what could be thought of as the innings of the day, it was Kane Williamson.
"I'll take a draw," said Trescothick, Somerset's captain. "We worked hard, did some good things and made more runs at Taunton than I can remember for a long while. To get a 103-run lead on first innings was a real achievement. But Yorkshire made a few too many runs."
As to whether Somerset's groundsman would be asked to continue to cut such pitches, or to provide a more even balance between bat and ball, he said, somewhat ambiguously, "We can alter the pitch as much as we need." They will have to do so if they are to bowl their opponents out twice in a match here this season; to look to garner points for drawn matches would suggest a poverty of ambition.
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