Cricket: Maynard makes merry as Glamorgan stay focused

Somerset 252 Glamorgan 159-2
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The Independent Online
Taunton was a place of near monastic calm in comparison to Canterbury yesterday, with nary a pitch inspector in sight. At least it was until Matthew Maynard strode to the crease and decided to respond to Somerset's first innings of 252, by launching a blistering assault every bit as exhilarating as the one's performed here by Ian Botham and Vivian Richards in the previous decade.

Outscoring his partner, Hugh Morris, unbeaten on 49, at over two runs to one, Maynard charged to an unbeaten 76 off 71 balls. With the clean tones of his power play ringing out around the ground, all bar Andy Caddick felt the power of his desire to bring the Championship pennant back to Walesfor the first time since 1969.

It was a captain's innings and more; a scruff of the neck response to all the controversy and ire that has been in the air since Surrey's announced their enfeebled side to play Kent, the other Championship contenders. With the weather set fair for the next few days, Glamorgan's efforts will be directed towards extracting 24 points (though they probably only need 21) from the 22 yards here at Taunton rather than the goings-on down in Kent.

Maynard's treatment of the rookie Ben Trott, in particular, was so brutal it verged on bullying, as the young pace bowler's two overs were despatched for 21 runs, including a mighty pull for six over mid-wicket.

It was not all one-way traffic, though, and Somerset, following Caddick's double strike to remove Steve James and Adrian Dale, had their chances, spilling a trio of dropped catches, including Maynard on 70.

If they had held them, the chances are they could well have been contesting this game, a position they will now find difficult to resurrect without the the services of their inspirational leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who failed a fitness test with a recurring sore knee.

Fortunately for Glamorgan supporters, their team had no such problem with their overseas player. When you have Waqar Younis bowling for you it does not really matter what the rest get up to, and despite bowling under the handicap of Taunton tummy - he had to leave the field to see Messrs Armitage and Shanks after his first spell - Waqar removed the mainstays of Somerset's batting in two fiery spells either side of lunch.

Had he not been indisposed, the home side would surely not have made the 252 on a pitch that offered early assistance to the seam bowlers, but which had flattened out after tea.

Getting both bounce and movement with the new ball, the Pakistani fast bowler plucked out Piran Holloway's off-stump in the fifth over of the day with a classic outswinger that the left-hander appeared to misjudge as he drove at thin air.

The same could not be said for Simon Ecclestone, who at least made contact, albeit only thin enough to find Hugh Morris at first slip. With Steve Watkin (3 for 31) picking up Rob Turner with a tennis ball bouncer only the most gullible would try and hit - Turner did and picked out Darren Thomas at long-leg - and Robert Croft winkling out Marcus Trescothick, Waqar was able to operate in short bursts. It proved an effective tactic too and, just as Mark Lathwell and Michael Burns were threatening to put together a telling partnership, Waqar scattered their stumps to finish with 4 for 41.

As has befitted a career that has yet to get beyond the highly promising, Lathwell's dismissal, playing around a gentle inswinger, brought to an end another sweet but unsatisfying cameo. He is a talent in limbo, a claim that was put into perspective after he was outscored by Peter Bowler, a grittier but infinitely less talented batsman.

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