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John Ward at Scarborough
September 18, 2008
This match is proving to be a good contest, but there will have to be an unexpected batting collapse on a good pitch to squeeze a result out in the time remaining. Somerset's 380 was perhaps about par for the course, thanks to a fine century from Ian Blackwell, but by the close Adam Lyth and Anthony McGrath had fought back impressively for Yorkshire.
Most of the day was played in what might be termed freakish weather conditions for 2008 as sunshine made an appearance. Somerset, 160 for 3 overnight, soon lost Arul Suppiah, beaten by a fine delivery from Matthew Hoggard and caught behind for 61.
The other overnight batsman, James Hildreth, never looked comfortable, and was a victim of a superb spell from Tim Bresnan, who had him in all sorts of trouble before dismissing him caught at slip, at the second attempt, by Jacques Rudolph for 41. The third wicket to fall was Craig Kieswetter, who could consider himself unlucky when a fierce cut off Adil Rashid rebounded painfully from Richard Pyrah's forearm and ended in the hands of Bresnan at cover.
But Blackwell held the innings together with a responsible knock, not the devastating strokeplay for which he is best known, but a sound innings that suited the needs of his side. He has tried to shed his image of village-green slogger and here played like an authentic batsman. He was rarely devastating, but playing his shots with maturity and waiting for the right ball to hit - and he rarely had to wait too long. His 50 came off 72 deliveries and his century off 137. He added 99 for the seventh wicket with Peter Trego, who batted well for his 51 before being trapped lbw by Hoggard.
With Andy Caddick holding up the other end, he moved quickly through the nineties and on to his fourth century of the season. He did not even hit a six until on 111 when he dispatched a low full toss from Rashid over the midwicket boundary. There was also an entertaining and unexpected contribution of 14 from the last man Charl Willoughby, who looked like getting out at any moment - as he usually does - but managed to play an astonishing tennis swat at a ball from Bresnan that went back over the bowler's head for six. He lofted the next ball to extra cover and the innings closed for 380.
Blackwell finished unbeaten on 127 off 167 balls; he hit 14 fours and a six. Hoggard took four wickets for 42 with his probing accuracy and nobody mastered him, while there were three rather more expensive wickets each for Bresnan and Rashid.
Yorkshire began with a new opening pair in Lyth and Michael Vaughan, but Vaughan again disappointed; after scoring 14, he threw his wicket away to an unworthy stroke, trying to pull a short ball from Willoughby well outside the off stump and offered a catch to mid-on.
McGrath then joined Lyth, who had opened his account with a superb cover-driven boundary off Caddick. This was his most prolific stroke, as time and again he pierced the covers, and reached his 50 off 94 balls. McGrath, who hit powerfully to leg, in particular with the pull, reached his fifty just before the close, off 99 balls and stand was worth 96.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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