Cricket / County Championship: Lathwell puts strong case for selection: Glamorgan gain the upper hand despite England hopeful's handiwork as Sussex are skittled

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The Independent Online
Somerset . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185

Glamorgan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .134-2

A REMARKABLE innings by Mark Lathwell, sent in on a sullen, dark green and sometimes spiteful pitch, in which he scored 84 runs out of 105 for 4 in 37 overs, was another confirmation of the impressive form of this 21-year-old right-hander.

If he does not play for England against Australia at Old Trafford next week - the team is due to be announced on Monday morning - then sentences on the selectors will have to be deferred for psychiatric reports. Lathwell punches the ball like a classic welterweight; there has not been so much swift accurate, short-arm jabbing since the days of the young Sugar Ray Robinson.

While four of his colleagues fenced and fell to Steve Watkin and Roland Lefebvre, Lathwell used the bounce and pace to cut and drive 11 fours; he scored 39 of the first 43 runs, 50 of 55 and 65 of 70. The pitch, despite the weight of water in the square over the previous two days, was not quite as helpful to the seam as Hugh Morris would have wished, when he won the toss, but, Lathwell apart, Somerset made a poor fist of it.

Andy Hayhurst was caught behind off a ball that lifted sharply; Richard Harden had his off stump knocked out; Chris Tavare, going back, was pinned by a ball deflecting from front pad to back. Lathwell, who at midday looked odds on for a century before lunch, assuming he had a partner, slowed down as if fearful of being accused of another irresponsible dash and, on the stroke of one o'clock, he drove at Watkin, Colin Metson taking a flying dive to hang on to a ball he can have hardly seen.

Since being called up, then ignored, by England in the Texaco series, Lathwell has scored 127 for Somerset Seconds and told friends, after returning from Lord's: 'I'd rather play for Somerset all summer than hang around the England dressing- room.' Lathwell's is a marvellous natural talent that needs to be burnished and encouraged, not left to wait and become contaminated by doubt.

Nick Folland batted well to stabilise the middle order until run out, sent back by Neil Burns, just before lunch. Somerset did not revive until a last-wicket stand between Andrew Caddick (6ft 7in) and Andre van Troost (6ft 7in). If Gog and Magog had played cricket this was it; Caddick plays the straight man, straight bat, the Dutchman the comedian: the result, fine entertainment and 24 invaluable runs.

Glamorgan's innings began half an hour before tea on a pitch still green and grassy but more uniform in bounce, offering Mushtaq Ahmed little more than frustration. Morris was missed at slip, off Jason Kerr, when five, before the interval and was given a clout on the helmet, when 26, by Caddick. He and Steve James otherwise prospered until, after 22 overs, Tavare called upon the Dutchman again, James's useful innings ending with a slip catch in the first over.

Morris had hit seven fours before he became Van Troost's second victim, to another slip catch. There is much good cricket to come.

(Photograph omitted)

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