Cricket: Rebirth of the leg men

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Somerset 558 and 132-2

Sussex 435

THE SUN has stayed hot and at last the wickets are easy. We have reached the stage of an English summer when the balance of advantage swings from bowlers to batsmen. But this summer their run-making may be somewhat curtailed by the revival of leg spin.

In a day's play at Taunton, Mushtaq Ahmed bowled unchanged for 35 overs and took five Sussex wickets; when Somerset batted again Ian Salisbury bowled 11 overs.

While the off-spinners toiled the leg-spinners turned the ball extravagantly from the rough and even settled batsmen regularly played and missed. With 46 overs of leg spin in a day, the revival is not just Shane Warne. Reports of the death of leg spin are greatly exaggerated.

Mushtaq has already proved a successful investment by Somerset; he is taking wickets and his colleagues like him. To judge by the passion of his appeals, and his tireless action, he is committed to playing an active part in the team.

There was no shortage of runs, of course. Sussex scored 435 and still trailed Somerset by 123 runs. At 411, when Alan Wells drove Mushtaq for four and avoided the follow-on, Sussex were five wickets down and all speculation was about when Wells would declare. However, Wells was out soon after for 144 (20 fours, one six) and the last five wickets fell for 11 runs, three of them to the 6ft 7in Dutchman, Adrianus van Troost, who bowls very fast but with an imperfect guidance system.

The first over of Somerset's second innings was off-spin bowled by Eddie Hemmings, who had Mark Trescothick caught at short leg for a single but Nick Folland, a teacher at Blundells School who scored 101 in the first innings, was still in his prime. He was 63 not out at the close and Somerset were 255 runs ahead. By then the speculation was about when Chris Tavare would choose to declare tomorrow.