Going seamingly for Durham

Even without the injured Steve Harmison, Durham's widely-envied crop of home-grown seamers had Somerset on the ropes yesterday as they attempted to close the 15-point gap which separates the visitors from the relegation zone.

Even without the injured Steve Harmison, Durham's widely-envied crop of home-grown seamers had Somerset on the ropes yesterday as they attempted to close the 15-point gap which separates the visitors from the relegation zone.

Durham still have to visit Taunton, and the outcome of these two matches will be crucial to both sides' chances of avoiding the bottom three.

On the ground where he made 74 not out in England's 10-wicket defeat of West Indies two weeks earlier, Marcus Trescothick was the only Somerset batsman apart from Peter Bowler to look comfortable until he was bowled by a snorter from Simon Brown.

It kept a trifle low, but the fact that it nipped into the left-hander, contrary to Brown's usual movement, was chiefly responsible for breaching Trescothick's back-foot defence.

Melvyn Betts and Neil Killeen picked up a wicket each and then John Wood was rewarded with three as Somerset subsided to 88 for 6, still needing 55 to avoid the follow-on. Bowler eked out a 135-ball half-century, however, and shared an unbroken stand of 56 with Graham Rose.

The progress Durham have made on the seam front was emphasised by the sight of the 35-year-old Paul Jarvis plying his trade for the opposition. When Durham were ass-embling their first-class squad nine years ago, they courted Jarvis, who hails from just down the road in Redcar. Instead he went south for five injury-plagued years with Sussex, then west, where the sun is finally setting on a career which has long been in decline.

Given this opportunity by injuries and unavailability, Jarvis made a dreadful start. But before Durham were all out for 292 the old familiar pouting was back as he strove for the third wicket which would have taken his career total to 650.

He was out of luck with his first delivery yesterday when Betts skied a hook to long leg where Rose, possibly thinking he was in danger of crossing the rope, knocked the ball down with his left hand.

Jarvis looked appalled and was similarly unimpressed when Brown edged him between first and second slip during a last-wicket stand of 33.

With a third batting point so close it was surprising that Brown should waft airily at a ball from Jamie Grove straight after lunch. Grove finished with the flattering figures of4 for 58.

Good bowlers should not need to post two men deep in an attempt to buy wickets from miscued hooks. But having snared Muazam Ali that way on Friday, the policy continued, and both Betts and Killeen tried to oblige before good sense prevailed. Betts remained unbeaten on 33.

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