Cricket: Jones punishes jaded tourists

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Somerset 554 New Zealand 223-4

IT WAS always going to be difficult for the tourists to lift themselves for their first Vodafone Challenge match after their excellent World Cup run, and so little heed should be taken of the scoreline.

At least that is what the England and Wales Cricket Board are hoping as they try to whip up a fever of anticipation for the Test series starting on Thursday.

New Zealand are not exactly the greatest draw in world cricket and the fact that a weakened Somerset side were allowed to accrue 554 runs will do nothing for ticket sales, unless of course England supporters want to take the opportunity to see their team cruise, as opposed to limp, past 200. If the marketing men want to throw off the shackles of grey- suited constraint then they could use this novelty as the central theme to their advertising. That and England scoring runs would certainly be new and different.

Still, at least the New Zealand tour has started in record-breaking fashion. Somerset recorded their highest-ever total against a touring side and the eighth-wicket partnership between Steffan Jones and Adrian Pierson of 172 equalled the county record set by Ian Botham and Viv Richards in 1983.

Jones went on in merry fashion to emulate Gregor Kennis and score a maiden century and it will be of mild concern to the tourists that they allowed another 147 runs to be scored before finally bringing the innings to a close.

There was a distinct world-weariness about much of the bowling and it did not help that the pitch was so flat that it would have not raised a murmur if at either end gravestones had appeared with a list of bowlers, RIP.

Daniel Vettori made the occasional ball turn and bounce and will have benefited from the long bowl but after four sessions in the field the Kiwis looked as if they were playing in third gear and saving themselves for the real stuff at Edgbaston.

There was the same lethargy when they batted. An opening attack of Jason Kerr and Jones is unlikely to spoil many batters' breakfasts but in the first four overs they found the edge of the bat three times.

Roger Twose and Matt Horne were reprieved by the slip cordon before Twose was caught by Keith Parsons off Jones, but the fielder will have suffered as Horne made the most of his second life, reaching 91 before edging Kerr behind with only two overs remaining.

Stephen Fleming played some pleasing strokes before shuffling across his stumps and being adjudged lbw to give Jones his second wicket on a day he is unlikely to forget and when Nathan Astle slogged and missed at Pierson it seemed that the Kiwis were jaded after their exploits of the previous month.

With pounds 11,000 as incentive for any county who beat the tourists, Somerset kept attacking fields, allowing Craig McMillan to profit from his aggressive attitude. At 223 for 4 and with 176 more runs needed to avoid the follow- on he will have to continue in the same vein.