Cricket: Lara lies in wait

Somerset. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .355-9 dec

Warwickshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57-0

THESE things are sent to try us. One look at the overnight scoreboard and the locals were preparing to invade the County Ground for what they hoped would be more than just a glimpse of cricket's latest purring run machine. Thanks to the weather, though, Brian Lara could pack away his pads for the day and all that dried up was the anticipated flood of spectators.

Warwickshire, their two openers in residence, had set the scene perfectly - Lara next to bat and the prospect of another three-figure contribution to come from the West Indian left-hander. Never mind Somerset's bowlers might be the ones suffering.

No, the attraction was to see whether Lara could continue making progress towards at least equalling another of cricket's first-class records, the one relating to the most hundreds made in successive innings. The figure stands at six and is shared by C B Fry, who made his mark at the turn of the century, Don Bradman in the 1938-39 season and Mike Procter in the 1970-71 campaign.

Lara, arriving in this country on the back of his mammoth 375 against England in last month's Antigua Test, had a word for his new employers. 'I hope they expect a lot from me,' the 24-year-old Trinidadian said. Of course they did and in no way have Warwickshire been disappointed.

Lara first took 147 off Glamorgan at Edgbaston to round off April and, when Leicester visited his new home ground earlier this month, he registered 106 in the first innings and an unbeaten 120 in the second. With a total of 748 runs from his last four innings behind him, Somerset appeared ready for the taking.

And while another Lara century may have grudgingly been conceded, no one would have begrudged Somerset their prospective gate takings. A five- figure sum was said to have been washed down the drain yesterday, and now the county pray that the clouds lift in time for what they hope will be a near sell-out crowd of 6,000 to watch this afternoon's Sunday League match.

In the meantime, following yesterday's washout, the best Lara can hope for is that Somerset, with a lead of 298, set Warwickshire a reasonable chase tomorrow and that either Dominic Ostler or Roger Twose are dismissed fairly rapidly.

Andy Caddick, Somerset's Test bowler, should be back in action this week. Caddick, England's leading wicket-taker on the West Indies tour, is missing the Warwickshire game with a shoulder injury. But the Somerset coach, Bob Cottam, described the problem as 'not serious'. Somerset's next Championship match, against Lancashire at Southport, starts on Thursday.

(Photograph omitted)