Cricket: Lathwell lets the ball do the work Head Demiy secyline

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The Independent Online
reports from Trent Bridge

Somerset 320-8 v Nottinghamshire

Two years ago tomorrow, Mark Lathwell made his Test debut on this ground, thrust into the sharp end of an Ashes series at the age of 21. He made a respectable enough start, scoring 20 and 33, but after returning 0 and 25 at Headingley in the next Test was summarily discarded. He has been seeking to repair the damage to his career ever since.

Some uncomfortable memories will need to have faded if he is to realise the potential England's selectors perceived in him then and days such as this can only help, as he put down the foundation for what may prove to be a decent first-innings total.

With shade temperatures in the upper twenties, it was not a day for running about and Lathwell, timing his strokes well from the outset, sensibly let the ball do the work, scoring 92 of his 110 runs in fours during his three and a half hours in the sun.

Somerset's batting order was disturbed by Andy Hayhurst failing to appear at No 3 on his return after injury and wicketkeeper Robert Turner struggled to be of much assistance to Lathwell after Peter Bowler had given a catch to slip off the left-arm spin of James Hindson.

Turner crawled to 12 in 21 overs before a testing post-lunch spell by Chris Cairns eventually earned his wicket and it was left to Richard Harden, enjoying a highly productive season, to restore the innings to better lines with a painstaking half-century, backed up forcibly by Simon Ecclestone.

Tim Robinson's decision to field first seemed like a calculated risk. Mushtaq Ahmed's leg breaks will be no easy proposition in the fourth innings on a pitch already taking spin but perhaps Nottinghamshire would fancy themselves more to chase runs than to bowl out a team chasing a fifth successive win.

Without Chris Lewis and Kevin Evans and with Cairns restricted by a side strain, their resources were limited enough even before young seamer David Pennett cried off through food poisoning and Andy Pick limped off with a troublesome knee.

Pennett's sick note prompted an emergency call to Bobby Chapman, who should have been playing for the second XI. He had Harden brilliantly caught at square leg and Cairns benefited when Piran Holloway slipped over in flicking the ball to leg but the most penetrative bowling came from the slow left armers, Hindson, whose spin beat Lathwell's sweep, and Usman Afzaal, whose two wickets were his first in the Championship.

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