Cricket: Rose blossoms

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire 424 and 273-5; Somerset 332

SO FAR it has been a dismal season for Somerset, who seemed to be heading for a fifth defeat in six championship matches at stumps here on Friday, when Yorkshire had them 195 for eight, needing another 80 to avoid the follow-on. Chances are they will still lose tomorrow, when Yorkshire seek to bowl them out on a pitch that will invite Richard Stemp to justify himself, but at least the result is not inevitable.

Yorkshire awoke yesterday in some excitement after Friday's successes, but bargained without Somerset's splendid recovery, which banished the prospect of an innings defeat. Somerset had batted poorly on Friday, but now applied themselves sensibly and were justly rewarded. The last two wickets put on 159 runs and a first-innings lead of 92 was somewhat less than what Yorkshire had expected.

Somerset were extricated from their predicament by Graham Rose, a 30-year-old all-rounder who began at Middlesex before going west in 1987. Rose recorded his maiden first-class century against Yorkshire at Taunton in 1991 and made them suffer for the sixth of his career yesterday, having been dropped in the slips on 13.

Putting that aberration behind him, Rose set a fine example to his two remaining partners, frustrating the Yorkshire attack with his diligence, then seizing on frequent opportunities to strike out as the bowling became ragged. Two boundaries despatched crisply through the legside field off Peter Hartley took him to a 100- ball 50 and he had the confidence to drive Craig White back over his head for six, racing to his century off only 60 more deliveries.

Brave support from Neil Mallender, hit on the hand when he had made nine, put on 70 for the ninth wicket before the 18-year-old Matthew Dimond produced a remarkably assured first-Championship innings, finishing unbeaten on 25 when Rose at last departed, nine balls after lunch. Rose was dismissed by a catch by David Byas, who had earlier held a brilliant one-handed effort to remove Mallender.

Yorkshire brows furrowed when Rose and Mallender broke through three times but Somerset soon suffered for the absence of three injured bowlers. Byas hit 12 fours and a six off a rather profligate Mushtaq Ahmed and was assisted by Richard Blakey in turning 55 for three into 148 for four to which White contributed a half century. At 273 for five at the close, Yorkshire lead by 365.

(Photograph omitted)