Cricket: Hayhurst shows true grit

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Somerset 288; Leicestershire 236-4

NOT every Somerset side down the years have been noted for their ability to graft for runs, but this quality - plus a certain amount of good fortune - has served them well here. Yesterday, under the guidance of Andy Hayhurst, their last four wickets ground out 79 precious runs, giving them a serviceable total of 288.

From 29 for 2 on the first morning, they would have settled for that. Then Andy Caddick, in a lively second spell, and the unlucky Mushtaq Ahmed started to make Leicestershire work hard, suggesting an intriguing match will not only go the distance but remain in the balance until the end.

Leicestershire may well feel they did not quite do themselves justice on the first day, when conditions were so awkward that even an accomplished batsman like Richard Harden had to battle 61 overs for his 40; then fielding lapses disrupted their progress yesterday, when batting was a little more straightforward in sunshine.

But there was still something in this pitch for bowlers able to put the ball consistently in the right place. However, confronted by the second new ball, Harvey Trump and Mushtaq hung around doggedly in support of their captain, whose supply of northern grit was tested to the full when Alan Mullally hit him in a tender part of the anatomy.

His eyes were no doubt still watering as he got his head down again, waited patiently for errors of line and length and took out his bat for 79, made in 83 overs, an innings full of character which was probably worth twice as many at Taunton and which kept his side afloat.

Ironically, his efforts were initially dissipated by Caddick and Andre van Troost, who sprayed the new ball around. Nigel Briers enjoyed a generous supply of bowling which fed his strength off his legs and it was probably as well for Somerset that Phil Simmons was not at his best.

He drove Mushtaq to extra cover, but Briers continued to pick off the half-volleys until, with Ray Illingworth still among those present, Caddick returned with a tighter second spell during which he prised out Briers with a good one which left him late.

Robert Turner, the wicketkeeper, had to go some way to his right for the catch. He then held an even better one when James Whitaker, having been worked over by Caddick, fell to a tentative stroke around his off stump.

Throughout all that, Mushtaq induced all sorts of errors and uncertainty. His luck seemed to even out when he had Vince Wells caught one-handed at slip by Trump, but if he and his colleagues do not moderate their excessive appealing they will soon have very few umpiring friends.