CRICKET: Harden's dogged resistance

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The Independent Online
Somerset 247-8 v Glamorgan

The Quantocks were misty and so was much of yesterday's cricket. The pitch, it was reported, was a belter but to those of us who remember uncovered wickets this one even smelled green and devious. Somerset's batsmen are unlikely to disagree.

Andy Hayhurst followed the perceived wisdom, electing to bat, and after an hour was taking guard himself with the score at 43 for 3, a turbulent sequence that included two dropped catches at second slip. Glamorgan, with their seam battery and sharp ground fielding, were spring-heeled and jubilant.

Darren Thomas, Glamorgan's 20-year-old Morriston flier, proved pacy and hostile. His ability to make the ball lift surprisingly and quickly, in conditions where the batsman is waiting for lateral movement either off the pitch or through the air, made him a dangerous proposition. Steve Watkin, in such circumstances, is still a Test bowler and the supporting cast maintained the pressure.

Marcus Trescothick was out second ball trying to block; Peter Bowler played over a swinger, Mark Lathwell, dropped on nine, was unluckily run out by Tony Cottey's throw from cover and the captain himself was brilliantly caught by the bowler, Robert Croft.

That left Richard Harden to make this his day. Solid, defiant, cheerfully retreating into his shell before striking swiftly at any proffered tasties, he needed 150 balls to reach his half-century after driving and pulling Thomas for three fours in two overs when the young man changed ends.

Harden's resistance was infectious and, Mushtaq Ahmed apart, the Somerset tail proved equally stubborn as the pitch eased and the outfield quickened on a day of almost unbroken sunshine and cold wind.

Harden added 46 with Rob Turner, in 23 overs, 31 with Graham Rose in 15 and, when Andrew Caddick arrived, even the new ball failed to disturb the even tenor of a Taunton evening. Caddick left after another 75 runs but by then the unbeaten Harden had reached a richly deserved century - which included 14 fours - in the 110th over, after six hours and 290 deliveries of concentration.