Cricket: Middlesex no match for Somerset

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The Independent Online
It was unlikely that Middlesex would avoid the ignominy of losing all four of their group matches in the Benson and Hedges once they had allowed Somerset to score another 115 runs from their last 12 overs yesterday.

The only time they were on terms with their huge target was when Paul Weekes and Mike Gatting were adding 71 in 15 overs for the second wicket, but without Mark Ramprakash who has a pulled hamstring, they had no one capable of maintaining a sustained challenge.

Weekes has turned into a most competent cricketer. He is a well organised batsman and a beautiful striker of the ball as well as being an accomplished off-spinner and a tiger in the field. Now that Gatting is a selector, Weekes's merits will surely be discussed when England teams are chosen.

Middlesex had reached 24 in the eighth over when Jacques Kallis shuffled across his crease to a ball from Graham Rose which went down the hill at the Pavilion End and had him caught behind. Gatting, who nowadays has a strong look of the Ancient Mariner about him, took a while to get off the mark and then square cut Keith Parsons for a thumping four.

With Weekes playing some lovely drives between mid-off and mid-on, runs came fast until Gatting went forward and tried to push Jason Kerr square on the off side and was extremely well caught behind by Robert Turner diving to his right. This would have been the moment for Ramprakash to have come in.

As it was, wickets now fell too frequently for Middlesex to effectively continue the challenge. Jason Pooley was lbw, half forward to Rose, and Weekes was fourth out at 177 driving Rose to long on. Keith Brown was the next to go, lbw trying to work Michael Burns to leg.

Scott Moffat and Keith Dutch quickened Middlesex pulses a fraction when they put on 54 in seven overs for the sixth wicket. But after Poole drove Rose for six, Dutch swept Parsons to deep square leg and although Moffat went on to reach his fifty in 36 balls with six fours Middlesex by then had too much to do.

In the morning Peter Bowler and Richard Harden had set about the Middlesex bowling in fine style.They put 101 in 12 overs and Harden's 66 came from 49 balls with three sixes and three fours. The Somerset score was finally taken out of Middlesex's reach by Turner, who hit 30 in 11 balls including 20 in the last over of the innings off Ricky Fay.

The Australian coach, Geoff Marsh, said he had "no worries" following the first practice session of the Ashes tour at Lord's yesterday. Marsh, the former Australian opener, saw his squad ease gently into their work, with nets being followed by some short catching and ground fielding sessions. The Australians will net again at Lord's today before travelling on to Arundel for the traditional tour opener against the Duchess of Norfolk's XI tomorrow.

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