Burns suffers rude awakening

Somerset 299 Northamptonshire 28-1
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The Independent Online

Still looking for a first victory of the season in the First Division of the CricInfo County Championship, Northamptonshire would probably have been happy to restrict third-placed Somerset to 299 after losing the toss had it not been for what happened in the first hour or so here yesterday.

Still looking for a first victory of the season in the First Division of the CricInfo County Championship, Northamptonshire would probably have been happy to restrict third-placed Somerset to 299 after losing the toss had it not been for what happened in the first hour or so here yesterday.

The pitch possessed no obvious demons, yet within 17 overs of launching their attempt to close in on leaders Yorkshire and Surrey, who both miss this round of matches, they were 35 for 6.

It was a rude awakening for Michael Burns, captain in the absence of the injured Jamie Cox, who followed his career-best 221 against Yorkshire at Bath with a third-ball duck. Then again, if there is a tricky time to negotiate on this ground it often comes in the first morning and Darren Cousins is not the easiest opponent with the new ball.

Cousins dismissed Peter Bowler in his fourth over when some extra bounce led to a catch at the wicket. Piran Holloway was leg before to Paul Taylor in the next over before Burns lost his off-stump to Cousins in the one after that. Ripley took a diving catch to make Mark Lathwell a second victim for Taylor in his first bowl for seven weeks, Cousins removed Matthew Wood and Tony Penberthy joined the attack to bowl Robert Turner.

Somerset were still teetering at 67 for 6 at lunch but the afternoon offered a complete contrast. Batting sensibly but with enough aggression to punish anything loose, Ian Blackwell and Keith Dutch added 182 in 49 overs before another wicket fell. Blackwell had hit 18 fours in a 150-ball 103 before becoming a maiden first-class victim for the medium pace of Jeff Cook. Dutch went to 84 before he became a fourth victim for Cousins, now 32 for the season.

Northamptonshire lost Mal Loye early in their reply but gained five runs in a curious end to the day when the Somerset substitute, Peter Trego, covering for Blackwell, who was nursing an injured hand, fielded a ball and incurred a five-run penalty under the newly-introduced Law 2.6, because the umpires had not been informed that he was on the field.

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