Cricket: Misfortune for Fletcher

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The Independent Online
Somerset . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .267-6

Middlesex

IT WAS low and slow and minus Lathwell or, to put it another way, festival cricket without the fizz and pop. Not that anyone was to blame, Wednesday's downpour having killed off any hoped-for life on the new square and Mark Lathwell was laid off after being stung by an insect.

Lathwell's late withdrawal through infection was, if you get the drift, just about the bottom line and left Somerset scratching around for openers once they had lost the toss. Andy Hayhurst, normally a regular at No 2 but having been injured and then dropped following a loss of form, was summoned from Taunton.

He could not make it to the Rec on time though and Ian Fletcher and Nick Folland went in to face the music against Middlesex. Having said that, this makeshift duo provided the most harmonious batting seen all day, standing firm throughout the first session and putting on 120 before being separated.

Folland was finally seen off for a valiant half-century when he lifted Neil Williams into the covers. Four overs later and Williams struck again, although in a less predictable fashion. Generally, there had been a lack of bounce but a lifter sent Fletcher to hospital with a broken right index finger.

This was only Fletcher's third Championship innings in three years and, having scored a career best 65 here after coming down from Loughborough University, it was just his luck to learn that he now faces at least a month out of the game. Meanwhile, Somerset continue to suffer.

Chris Tavare and Hayhurst may have put on 52 at a crawl across 24 overs, but when Tavare was cut off three short of his 50, Williams inflicted further pain. Graham Rose was struck on the elbow and retired hurt and, five balls later, the Middlesex seamer had Mushtaq Ahmed leg before for a duck. Finally, Matthew Keech added to Somerset losses by bowling Neil Burns in the next over.

Durham's Ian Botham, who had taken just four first-class wickets this season, took 4 for 11 from 6.5 overs as he and Philip Berry (3 for 39) restricted Glamorgan to 300. Durham were five without loss at the close.

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