WORCS v SOM, Worcester, 20th - 23rd August 2003 Day 1
Somerset win toss and bat. A brilliant start from Edwards, races to 45 before edging behind.
Wood & Burns then produce a quality second wicket stand, both bringing up 50s at lunch: 151 for 1.
The restart sees Wood dismissed all too quickly. This was a good, controlled knock of quality which hopefully will give a great deal of confidence to all, not just Woody himself.
Coxes arrival is greeted with some livelier bowling; an appeal or two, an edge and a caught behind without scoring. Is the bowling suddenly improving or is the wicket starting to misbehave?
Webley joins Burns next, and a bit of a nervous start before he gets going, making a steady 20 before he too fell caught behind.
That brought Blackie to the wicket and four quick, beautifully timed boundaries in close succession. Could this be another ton in the making? A very loud appeal for a caught at silly point and the umpires confer before he's given not out, Blackie explaining to a querying Rhodes that the ball has actually been hit into the ground before rising off his boot and into silly-point's mits. Spinner Batty is now on, and there seems to be the odd ball bouncing higher than it should have. Shortly afterwards an lbw appeal from Batty is upheld and Blackie's clearly unhappy - he didn't look to have moved across in front of his stumps (although I was at mid-off!), and his journey back to the pavilion gave clues that he might have edged the ball first. There were quite a few Worcs appeals during the day which looked a bit theatrical, but you sensed their great relief at getting rid of another dangerman relatively cheaply.
Laraman is next in, joining Burnsey at the non-striking end, when, after another boundary Burnsey edges to Hick at slip off Hayward after a very good captain's innings of 89. I reckon he's almost satisfied with this score - there isn't quite the anger that usually accompanies a dismissal nowadays, and there isn't any question about the dismissal, so I interpret only a mildly disappointed skipper at missing out on a century. Well done Burnsey!
Turner then joins Laraman, and it's Laraman who seems to be the one to push the score along, while Robbie keeps what seems like a good defence until he becomes another of Hayward's victims (who seemed to be bowling with a bit more pace and accuracy than his previous spell), getting what looked like a leg glance catch. Robbie caught Rhodes bowled Hayward for 4.
Not sure what the scorecard order was, but next in is Stef, perhaps promoted because of his 60+ in the Northants game last week. First ball from Hayward is very well dug out - a good yorker. Second ball is caught Hemp bowled Hayward for nought.
Johnson's arrival, and a couple of quick boundaries before tea.
At this stage I thought I'd give the pitch an inspection. Well what can I say. Incredible! About 22 yards from crease to crease. If only I knew what to look for!
A quick burger, and standing in line with batsman, I see Laraman dismissed, edging the ball to Rhodes for a brisk but valuable 29. Perhaps the pitch is doing something?
Nixon is last man in giving good support to Johnno who is dominating, hitting a quickfire 29 before skying to Hayward close to the boundary. 296 all out in under 75 overs.
Perhaps a bit short of what we estimated earlier in the day, but 1 lbw, 8 catches, only one of which was not an edge (I think) suggests there may be something for our bowlers.
Worcs start in an extremely cautious manner, Nixon bowling some extremely quick deliveries, Johnno keeping a very good line & length, but with no luck. Lots of false strokes, some playing and missing, but still no wicket. Laraman is the first change replacing Johnno, and once again bowling a good line & length. Stef on from the other end for Nixon, and the Worcs batsmen seem be getting a bit tied down. Laraman gets the breakthrough, Singh edging to Robbie for 14.
In comes Mr Hick, who has that annoying knack of taking us to the cleaners. Stef bowls a second maiden in a row, and Laraman seems to be obtaining variable bounce giving the batsmen something else to worry about. Then Hick starts to open up with some well-timed shots, some slogging shots, and some Worcester supporters start to murmur, 'give Hick 20-odd and he'll give you a century-plus'. This was particular sweet music to our ears as shortly afterwards, Laraman bowls another delivery that bounces a bit low and Mr Hick's stumps are in a mess, bowled Laraman for 23.
Rhodes arrives as nightwatchman, and Peters is still there on 44 at the close. A very entertaining day's play. Hopefully the wicket will misbehave a bit more tomorrow and we can take full advantage.
Probably won't report tomorrow - I'm not driving!!!