Edwards spurs turn in fortune for Somerset

Somerset 318-5 v Nottinghamshire
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The Independent Online

It has not been a happy time for Somerset, bottom of the Second Division and winless; out of the C&G Trophy and not exactly setting the lower tier of the one-day league alight either.

It has not been a happy time for Somerset, bottom of the Second Division and winless; out of the C&G Trophy and not exactly setting the lower tier of the one-day league alight either.

Yet they have some serious thoroughbreds in the stables, from knowing warhorses to eager colts. And yesterday, in surroundings more used to sporting success than failure, The Recreation Ground, home to Bath Rugby club, something finally stirred.

Two of Somerset's newer faces, Neil Edwards, 20, and James Hildreth, 19, whose combined ages add up to six months fewer than Somerset opener Peter Bowler, managed to raise local hopes and suggest that fortunes might be on the change.

Paul Franks however, who has been down the wunderkind route since making his debut for Nottinghamshire at 17, threatened to put the skids under Somerset, and has accounted for all five wickets to fall.

Thankfully, his colleagues just could not bowl the sort of line that would have produced wickets, especially early on in the overcast conditions and on a greenish pitch that had persuaded Nottinghamshire captain Jason Gallian, on winning the toss, to put Somerset in.

They did beat the bat, but all too often the ball flew past England wicketkeeper Chris Read as well. Edwards survived four chances, three in the slips and one to cover point, but he rode his luck obdurately and in Hildreth had a perfect foil for his patient approach.

Edwards was at the crease for four hours and 45 minutes, Hildreth a breezier, and chanceless, two hours. Together they added 104 for the third wicket before Hildreth became Read's third catch of the day.

Edwards, who had already had a hand in piling up Somerset's first century opening stand of the season with Bowler, got rather bogged down in the eighties after that and shortly after tea succumbed for 87 to the irrepressible Franks, who generated pace and bounce.

Those noble efforts by Edwards and Hildreth were later overshadowed by the burly Ian Blackwell, who proceeded to smash the ball to all parts for a 30-ball half-century, before rain brought a premature end to the day, with 19 overs remaining to be bowled.

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