Advantage Somerset

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The Independent Online

In scorching heat on a wicket that batsmen dream of, this game curled up and died while Surrey trampled Lancashire into the Oval dust. But even as the match was consigned to the flames, there were tactical points to be made, grudges to be settled, personal targets to be achieved.

In scorching heat on a wicket that batsmen dream of, this game curled up and died while Surrey trampled Lancashire into the Oval dust. But even as the match was consigned to the flames, there were tactical points to be made, grudges to be settled, personal targets to be achieved.

Somerset seized the chance to make Yorkshire toil and boil fruitlessly in the sun. Today these teams play again in front of a full house in an NCL match, and a win for Somerset will put them on top of the league. So, while two batsmen filled their big boots with runs, the opposition were asked to sweat resentfully in the field. Advantage Somerset.

No batsman in the country is technically and temperamentally better equipped to add cheap runs to his aggregate than Peter Bowler. Others, faced with a long afternoon in the grass oven, would rather play a few shots, collect a cameo score and put their feet up. Not Bowler.

He came to Somerset from troubled Derbyshire in 1995 hungry for captaincy. Two years later he was satisfied, but the cares of office blunted his batting skills. Now, under Jamie Cox, he has flowered again, and in his benefit year he is the county's most prolific scorer. Just the man to bore the opposition on a long afternoon.

Keith Parsons stayed with him, cruising painlessly to his highest Championship score when he passed 83, and moving on to a maiden century. Physically Parsons is a right-handed Marcus Trescothick, which means he is not petite and as an established part of Somerset's bits-and-pieces middle order he has the talent, and with experience the responsibility, to take his batting average into the thirties.

Earlier, a warm round of applause greeted Mark Lathwell when he returned to the pavilion having scored 47. After a year out due to injury he has owed his opportunities this season to Trescothick's elevation, and all true Somerset supporters hope that this shy village cricketer with two England caps will cement a place in the side once more.

After this game and events at the Oval the first four positions remain the same - Surrey, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Somerset. But they have strung out a little, and such small adjustments can have big implications come September.

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