Cricket: Rose and Burns revive Somerset

Northamptonshire v Somerset
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Never was the fascination of cricket better illustrated. After the first 16 overs of the day Somerset were 73 for 7 and North- amptonshire seemed certain to take a more than useful first-innings lead. At this point, Graham Rose joined Michael Burns, the luck that was going suddenly deserted Northamptonshire, the eighth-wicket pair put on 170 with increasing certainty and it was Somerset who finished with a lead of 105.

There was still life in the pitch and, after building up an important psychological advantage with his three wickets late on Thursday, Mohammad Akram was a nasty proposition at the start. It was he who removed Peter Bowler with the help of a good catch at third slip, and Paul Taylor, who was brisk and probing, took the next three wickets.

For some time after that, it seemed the eighth wicket would fall at any time. Rob Bailey, Northamptonshire's captain, obviously thought so too, for he made no attempt to vary his seam attack and the offspinner was not introduced until the middle of the afternoon. There was a certain amount of playing and missing which will have kept everyone interested, the ball found the edge of the bat and catches went down, but a wicket would not fall.

Burns might have been caught in the slips when 13 and 27 and Rose was also put down in the slips when 21 and, later, on 100. David Capel, three times, and Richard Montgomerie were the culprits and as the stand progressed the ground fielding lost some of its earlier sharpness.

The pitch appeared to ease, as will happen when batsmen take control. Burns and Rose are capable batsmen and only came together so late in the innings because two nightwatchmen were used on Thursday.

Rose, who soon overtook Burns, played some glorious thumping off-drives; he pulled handsomely, he square cut with excellent timing and was never afraid to hit the ball in the air. His hundred came with a lovely force past cover. That was his 12th four to add to one six: a top-edged hook to fine leg off Mohammad. It took him 136 balls and was the seventh of his career, leaving Somerset with hopes of victory.

Burns also played some good looking off drives, including the best stroke of the day when late in the afternoon he on-drove Capel to the old pavilion for four. The stand ended two runs short of the Somerset eighth-wicket record when Burns swept at Jeremy Snape and was caught at short fine leg, having passed his previous highest score, of 81, by just a single.