Cricket: Reeve search for success stalled

Northants 185 and 122-5 Somerset 290 Match drawn
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THE weather has been especially cruel to Somerset so far this season, for it has now prevented them from winning their first two Championship matches. At The Oval, in their first, Surrey looked like following-on before rain ruined most of the last two days, and now they had every chance of winning on the last day at Northampton when only one over was possible in the first three and a half hours.

There is a buzz to Somerset's cricket this season and the main reason is undoubtedly the presence of Dermot Reeve in their dressing-room. He is a stimulating and infectiously enthusiastic fellow who has galvanised a side which has not in recent years won the matches it should.

Reeve himself is enjoying the challenge, but modestly gives most credit for the improved performances this year to Somerset's new captain, Peter Bowler. "He has an excellent technical cricket brain and his pre-season talks to the players were brilliant when he drew on his own experiences like playing at Derbyshire with Michael Holding."

He and Bowler obviously have an excellent relationship and Reeve was at pains to point out that it is Bowler who is in charge in the dressing- room.

Reeve then spoke of his own part. "I tell the players that cricket won't be with them forever and they should make sure they do their best and enjoy it. Self-esteem is so important and is fuelled by doing your best.

"They must all ask themselves if they have prepared themselves properly. And they must be prepared to make sacrifices if necessary, for example, they must eat the right food.

"It's my job to get them to want to play cricket each day and to help themselves. They must learn to play to their strengths and cut out their weaknesses.

"I try and take the pressure off the players. It's difficult if you're not doing well and you are coming to the end of a one-year contract. But I do what I can."

Reeve is enjoying the challenge. "Especially the pre-season practice when we were all getting to know each other. I found that I had a much more talented bunch of players than I thought and that's exciting."

Did he miss playing? "Well, the other day against Somerset I would have loved to have been out there bowling. We needed a few dot balls to steady it down and I could hardly sit still." And predictions? "Too early for that. The season's hardly begun but we aren't a bad side."

Not a bad side at all. Somerset may well cause some uncomfortable surprises this season, they might even win something.

Play eventually began again at half past three and there was not time for Somerset to win. Andy Caddick soon had Tony Penberthy caught behind when he was late in trying to get his bat out of the way.

The rain started once more an over later and after a half-an-hour break there was time for 3.5 more overs in which Capel drove Rose to extra cover before it began again. It was utterly frustrating for everyone but at least we knew we had reached the point of no return.