Cricket: Brilliance of Bevan defeats bold Somerset

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Australia 243-5 Somerset 208 Australia win by 32 runs (D/L method)

AT LEAST Somerset made a fist of it and a creditable one at that. Australia may have threatened to get away from their opponents but a well- drilled Somerset side, sharp as thorns in the field, tight as clams when they bowled and bold as you please with the bat, did not let go.

If it had not been for the excellence of Michael Bevan, who raised the tempo of the Australian innings with an unbeaten half century, and the quality of the leg spinner Shane Warne, there might well have been a ripple on the smooth surface of the antipodean preparations.

Even so, a sizeable Somerset crowd were given plenty to cheer, once they had recovered from the premature departure of their captain Jamie Cox to the second ball of the innings. Mike Burns and Piran Holloway used every part of the bat as they scythed, hacked, pulled and pushed the score well into the 70s at a run a ball.

Respect did not come into their treatment of Glenn McGrath, the much- feared fast bowler; indeed their treatment of him bordered on the contemptuous. He was not introduced into the attack until the eighth over by which time the partnership was gathering momentum. A dozen runs came off that over and a scowling McGrath was temporarily withdrawn. But it was little better on his return from the Old Pavilion End and he finished wicketless for 44 runs.

At the height of the run-glut Warne entered the fray. Almost immediately he caught Burns on the toe of his boot, two overs later Holloway failed to read the googly and edged to slip, then Warne held on to a full-blooded return catch to account for Robbie Turner and the balance shifted.

There was still plenty of resistance in the form of Marcus Trescothick, Jason Kerr and the rest of a sturdy tail, but the threat had been seen off.

Appropriately it was Bevan who finished things off when he had Matthew Bulbeck caught behind by Adam Gilchrist after a stoppage and a farcical readjustment of the target under the infernal Duckworth-Lewis calculations. The total needed was reduced by three runs because of three overs lost.

But however useful Bevan can be with the ball it is his batting in the short game which sets him apart and makes him so valuable. His average in 104 one-day internationals is 62.19 and although Mark Waugh, who scored a tidy 46 - two more than his twin Steve - has more than 6,000 limited overs runs, he averages 38. And Bevan seems to be getting better.

His was a chanceless innings, steeped in perfectly placed shots. Every one of the 85 balls he faced was a pleasurable anticipation and rarely disappointed. Which summed up the overall Australian performance as well.