The drizzle had stayed with them long enough to restrict the first two days of this match to a miserly total of 58 overs, and so deals and negotiations were already afoot by Friday.
Yorkshire's first-innings 306 was almost entirely dependent on the Australian Darren Lehmann's 177, while for Somerset the in-form Andy Caddick took six wickets. The home side responded briskly, thanks to a cavalier 79 not out by Simon Ecclestone, and dutifully declared 103 behind. Yesterday began with the Yorkshire captain David Byas at the crease, in charge of the declaration equation.
The prologue to the farce was when Lehmann, imperious in the first innings, flailed at the first ball of the day to be caught behind. At this point Somerset should have rewritten the agreement, but within four overs the joke bowlers were on - the Somerset skipper Peter Bowler and opening batsman Mark Lathwell offered dreadful long hops and full tosses, while the fielders seemed to be under instruction simply to escort the ball to the boundary. Byas's century will only be counted as first-class when memory of the morning has faded. But awful bowling can sometimes induce red mist in the eyes of professional batsmen - this beer-match duo collected three unworthy wickets between them.
Byas asked Somerset to score 341 at just over four an over. Immediately, Lathwell collected a pair, lbw to Hartley both times shuffling hopelessly across the stumps. He is too talented, this great village cricketer, for this sad situation to last much longer and it would be cruel if he did not face Leicester in Tuesday's Benson & Hedges quarter-final.
Somerset never got into the chase - even before their collapse they were edging forward at just three an over. Hartley, bustling in from the old pavilion end, put the result beyond doubt with three wickets in four balls, finishing a neat and destructive spell with 5 for 34. But the initial damage had already been inflicted by Craig White's swing bowling, attacking with spirit from the river end. He dismissed Bowler and Mike Burns - a newcomer who has so far relished his move from Warwickshire - in successive balls. Piran Holloway was another early participant in the procession, flapping recklessly at Gavin Hamilton as Somerset subsided immediately after lunch with the loss of three wickets. Hartley then took Yorkshire to the brink of a mid-afternoon victory.
Tea was delayed after a defiant little cameo by Mushtaq Ahmed, who slogged 33 off 22 balls, and then Kevin Shine joined the only rock of the Somerset disorder, Richard Harden, whose pugnacious fifty was his eighth in 10 innings. Shine assisted his partner to this little landmark, but with a White yorker the now-inevitable result occurred at four o'clock.Reuse content