Cricket: Ramprakash's Sunday best

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Somerset 144; Middlesex 145-2

Middlesex win by 8 wickets

THE colour of the cricket matched the clothing here yesterday, sky blue Middlesex giving a near-cloudless performance while Somerset's red faces were quite in keeping with their burgundy strip. It was all over soon after 5.30, the champions enjoying a real Sunday afternoon stroll that ended more than 16 overs short of the regulation distance.

Somerset's decision to bat left them surveying the wreckage at the Rec, five blown away for 47 in the first 21 overs, and though Middlesex had a couple of early alarms, Mark Ramprakash and John Carr carried on in much the same fashion as the previous afternoon. The only difference this time was that they proved inseparable.

The pair had helped to steer Middlesex past 300 in the Championship game and now they added 140 more at a shade under five an over. Ramprakash on the rampage is becoming a familiar sight on Sundays, Middlesex emerging victorious on the back of each of his three half-centuries.

He had made 88 and 84 at Lord's to see off Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and here made 73 off 98 balls in an innings which included nine fours and two sixes. Carr, meanwhile, contributed a fifty of his own as the pair made a mockery of what had gone before.

With the white ball swinging around on a wicket that did not encourage attacking strokes, Somerset were on the slide from the moment that Mark Lathwell - pronouncing himself fit again after suffering from an insect sting - fell leg before wicket to Norman Cowans in the third over. While this was the only success for Cowans, the Middlesex seamer reeled off his 10 overs for a dozen runs.

John Emburey's figures were better still, 10 coming from his 10 overs, five of which were maidens. He also took out Mushtaq Ahmed, whose top score of 32 showed Somerset that the spirit of adventure was the key, thanks to a stunning catch at short midwicket by Robin Sims.

Graham Rose (28) and Neil Mallender (20) also rallied Somerset, Mallender offering the hint of an upset when he removed Desmond Haynes and Sims in two wicket-maidens that left him with figures of 3-2-3-2. It was the last time, though, that Somerset smiled.