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John Ward at Scarborough
September 20, 2008
Somerset 380 (Blackwell 127, Suppiah 61, Hoggard 4-42) and 317 for 8 dec (Hildreth 63, Blackwell 55) drew with Yorkshire 414 (McGrath 128, Rudolph 98)
Predictably, the match ended in a draw, with the loss of most of the first day's play through bad light being too great an obstacle for two evenly balanced sides to overcome on a sound pitch. Yorkshire did have a few glimmers of hope during the day, after Darren Gough had lit up the first half-hour, but in the end Somerset saved the match comfortably. The stalemate has left both teams a little less likely to attain their immediate seasonal goals: Somerset of winning their first championship and Yorkshire of avoiding the dreaded drop to Division Two.
It was clear that the only way, barring exceptional circumstances, of obtaining a result in this match on the final day was for a Somerset batting collapse. In the first hour of play, this looked just possible, and the man chiefly responsible was Yorkshire's retiring captain, who may well be playing his final day of first-class cricket in his home county.
Gough took it upon himself to bowl the first over of the day, and struck with his third ball. He produced a superb delivery that cut in off the pitch and bowled the makeshift opening batsman, Craig Kieswetter, for 10. At the other end Tim Bresnan gave him superb support, and removed the other opener, Arul Suppiah (19), who groped outside the off stump and was caught at the wicket. Gough struck again with another delivery worthy of his great years: the ball swung in to Justin Langer before moving away off the pitch and clipping the edge of his bat for another keeper's catch. Langer was so confused that he did the un-Australian thing and walked. Somerset were 39 for 3.
But that was where it stopped. Gough nowadays has to keep to brief spells, and when he left after five magnificent overs, Somerset drew a deep breath and fought back. Not even Matthew Hoggard could match Gough's brilliance, and Zander de Bruyn and James Hildreth fought their way out of trouble, taking their team through to lunch without further loss.
This partnership, which realised exactly 100 runs, was the main factor in Somerset's escape. de Bruyn fell for 45, a good diving catch by Adam Lyth at short leg off bat and pad, Rashid being the bowler. Hildreth carried on to reach his fifty, which took him 108 balls after a very wary start, and then fell for 63, caught at silly point after a ball from Rashid lifted, took the shoulder of his bat and lobbed up easily.
But then came the partnership that ensured the draw. Ian Blackwell restrained his natural aggressive instincts, taking no risks - on 11 he reached 1000 runs for the season - while Peter Trego was more aggressive, but he attacked with discrimination in scoring 45 off 53 balls. He hit a ball from Michael Vaughan out of the ground for six, but finally skied a catch to mid-off. By then, the match was virtually safe, even though Marcus Trescothick, batting lower down with an injured shoulder, was caught at midwicket off the left-arm spin of Jacques Rudolph for just a single.
At tea Somerset led by 218 runs ahead with three wickets in hand, and Yorkshire needed a hat-trick, or near it, straight after tea. It didn't happen. With the match safe, Blackwell opened up a bit, hit a six, reached 50 off 85 balls and then holed out at extra cover for 55. Alfie Thomas and Andy Caddick enjoyed some stress-free batting practice. Appropriately, Gough bowled the final over; less appropriately, Thomas creamed his last two balls for four through the covers.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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