Lathwell's reminder of past success

Somerset 553-5 dec Yorkshire 119-0
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The Independent Online

If April is the cruellest month, then cricket is the cruellest game. Mark Lathwell was dismissed for 99 last week and yesterday his attempt to reach three figures for the first time since September 1998 was thwarted by his captain Jamie Cox, who declared the Somerset innings closed at lunch on 553 for 5.

That left Lathwell stranded on 98 not out ­ a brilliant innings of flawless timing on what is clearly his favourite ground. Bath-time has an entirely different meaning for the diminutive Somerset batsman. If he had reached his hundred before the interval it would have been a remarkable achievement, and not merely because two of his 12 previous centuries have been scored on this ground. He only joined the run-feast at 11.25am at the fall of Matthew Wood's wicket.

At least Lathwell looks to have rediscovered his immaculate touch. Some of his strokeplay was exceptional, the rest just left the large crowd gasping. There were three sixes, a dozen fours and a plethora of stunning shots scattered like gems among the 109 balls he faced as he helped Somerset pile up the biggest total against Yorkshire since Kent amassed 580 three years ago.

At the other end Michael Burns picked up where he had left off on the opening day. He barely broke sweat as he added a further 59 to his overnight 162 to reach his maiden double hundred and reach the highest individual score against Yorkshire since Alec Stewart's unbeaten 271 four seasons ago. It was also the highest individual Somerset innings against Yorkshire, surpassing Viv Richards' 217 at Harrogate in 1975.

By the end of his landmark innings the admirable Burns had been on duty for the best part of eight hours. When he finally gloved an attempted sweep off James Middlebrook to be caught behind he had hit a six and 28 fours and had shared in his third three-figure stand, this time 132 with Lathwell.

There was more of the same after lunch, runs galore, little hope for the hapless bowlers who flogged away all the same. The only difference was that this time it was Yorkshire who were in the driving (and the cutting and pulling) seat.

Yorkshire's own Matthew Wood and his opening partner, Scott Richardson, made untroubled progress to the fourth hundred stand of the game to date. Both batsmen were on 56 when rain brought a premature end to proceedings, with a third of the day's allocation of 104 overs left unbowled.