Somerset survival hopes fading away

Somerset 191 Leicestershire 207-5

AFTER THE season they have had, with just one victory to their name, the surprise is that Somerset have not already been relegated. Yet they arrived at Grace Road still with a mathematical chance of clinging to First Division status.

After the season they have had, with just one victory to their name, the surprise is that Somerset have not already been relegated. Yet they arrived at Grace Road still with a mathematical chance of clinging to First Division status.

But all that changed yesterday in the space of 42.3 overs – 11 balls fewer than they faced collectively when beating the same opponents in a Norwich Union League match the day (and night) before.

Yet another flabby batting show that left them pointless threatens to take the arithmetic out of the equation, promising Second Division Championship cricket at Taunton next year.

As stoutly as Michael Burns battled there was a certain symbolic look to his unbeaten 97, a score that leaves him eight runs away from reaching 1,000 runs in a season for the first time. It was also a frustrating fourth score in the nineties for Burns who, rather like Trevor Ward later in the day, had made batting look like child's play, while his Somerset colleagues played with the naïvety of children. He saw his last two partners, Richard Johnson and Simon Francis, falling in successive deliveries to Darren Maddy.

The pitch began slightly damp and, in consequence, Leicestershire's acting captain, Iain Sutcliffe, put Somerset in. Javagal Srinath, the sometime Indian Test bowler, generated late movement into and away from the hapless Somerset batsmen and had three of the top four back in the Pavilion inside his first five overs.

And yet it seemed whenever a visiting bat was put to a home ball the boundary was peppered; there were 32 fours in all, 16 of them by Burns. One more and he would have had the consolation of a three-figure haul.

But all that good work was obliterated by Ward, who hammered Leicestershire past the Somerset total and to a first batting bonus point. It was his best innings at Grace Road this season and a timely one since he is out of contract at the end of this season.

He fell a couple of overs short of the close for 84, made of 150 balls and containing 13 boundaries. It was his second highest innings of the season and the fourth time he has missed out on a hundred.

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