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John Ward at Headingley
June 12, 2009
Yorkshire 277 and 26 for 1 (Sayers 4*) lead Somerset 230 (Kieswetter 83, Hoggard 5-56) by 73 runs
After a rather insipid first day's play, the second more than brought the game to life, with some strong individual performances swinging the balance of the match throughout the day. Pride of place goes to Matthew Hoggard, who tore apart the Somerset top-order with a superb spell of swing bowling. Behind him comes Craig Kieswetter, the man who led the visitors' fightback, followed by Alfonso Thomas, who carried on the job, along with several other sturdy performers. Their efforts mean the match is intriguingly balanced, with the likelihood of a result - a situation not common enough in an era of high-scoring draws.
Yorkshire, who began the day on a less-than-glorious 269 for 8, added only eight more runs before their innings closed, with scarcely a ball struck in anger. Charl Willoughby and Thomas took a wicket each, thus both finishing the innings with three, though Willoughby's economy (30 runs off 23.3 overs) was the more impressive.
After their insipid batting, however, Yorkshire fought back with a roar, mainly in the form of the once (and perhaps still future) England bowler Hoggard. He came steaming in from the Kirkstall Lane End to bowl one of the best his spells in years. Marcus Trescothick contributed to his own downfall; shades of David Gower, he drove loosely at the fourth ball he received, which moved away to brush the edge on its way to the keeper. Two balls later Justin Langer fell to an even better delivery, fencing at a ball that moved away and giving Gerard Brophy another chance. Somerset were rocking at 0 for 2 in the first over.
Rather surprisingly, Rana Naved opened at the Rugby Stand End instead of Tim Bresnan, and at first did not altogether keep the pressure on, although he later improved. James Hildreth decided attack was the best method of defence and hit five boundaries, two in the same over from Hoggard, in his 20 before he steered a ball from the latter to third slip. With Zander de Bruyn trapped lbw first ball, Craig Kieswetter found himself required to save the hat-trick, which he did by jamming down on a good yorker. The noble Hoggard was rested after a spell of 7-2-25-4; to quote the Yorkshire coach Martyn Moxon: "That's what he's capable of with the new ball, a bit of swing and seam, a bit of bounce, that's him at his best. He's been working hard in the nets on his bowling, but it's different in a match and this is a nice start back for him."
One outstanding performance begat another, however, and Kieswetter was the man who led a stirring Somerset fightback. He soon overtook the surviving opener, a rather moribund Arun Suppiah, and scored most of the runs with little apparent difficulty and very little fuss. He lost Suppiah for 20 in the over after lunch, lbw to the left-arm spinner David Wainwright, and then Peter Trego (3) to a brilliant catch by Andrew Gale at second slip off a full-blooded slash - off Hoggard. But he then found a capable partner in Thomas, a big hitter who played with admirable restraint, and the recovery began. Their eventual partnership of 52 finally lost momentum as Kieswetter himself seemed to lose his touch after reaching the seventies; finally, on 83, he slashed at a widish ball from Ajmal Shahzad and Brophy took a fine diving catch.
Yorkshire again showed their annoying inability to complete the job quickly as the largest stand of the innings followed, 66, with David Stiff playing a noble innings of 28, his best in first-class cricket, before edging a sharp spinner from Wainwright to slip. The spinner followed up with a beautifully flighted ball that had Michael Munday edging to slip, before Thomas, with the last man at the crease, hammered him for a fine straight six. It was as well he did so, as in the next over Willoughby, showing nifty footwork for a tailender as he constantly retreated far towards square leg, was bowled as soon as Shahzad got one in the blockhole.
Thomas, whose 50 took him 115 balls and included only two fours, was unbeaten with 64. Hoggard finished with 5 for 56, while Wainwright's 3 for 49 was also a very creditable performance. The total was 230; Yorkshire led by 47 runs - more than they would have expected at the start of play, less than they would have expected soon after lunch.
Yorkshire had 13 overs to face before the close. Jacques Rudolph went for his shots from the start, playing some fine strokes, but also taking a few risks. Just two overs from the close, one of these brought about his downfall, for 22 off 28 balls, through a mis-hit into the covers off the deserving Willoughby. With Somerset batting last, on a dry pitch Moxon believes will take increasing spin, Yorkshire can be said to have a slight advantage - but, after the events of today, it is clearly still anybody's game.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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