Wood reaping benefit of Australian visit

Somerset 553 Yorkshire 403-4;

Yorkshire take advantage of favourable conditions as Warwickshire fight back and Leicestershire win with day to spare
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It has been quite a match for the Matthew Woods of this world ­ well, those of Somerset and Yorkshire at least. Wood of Yorkshire, as befits the senior of the pair, outgunned his West Country namesake with a welcome century at run-rich Bath yesterday.

It confirmed the end of a worrying period for the 23-year-old, who had been suffering from a loss of confidence, despite a hundred in the opening match of the season last year. It needed a visit to Australia in the winter to get him back on track.

Wood and Anthony McGrath forked out for an extended refresher course in the art of batting in Perth under Peter Carlstein, guru to the Hollioake brothers among others. A broken finger on the pre-season tour to South Africa frustrated Wood and kept him on the sidelines until the middle of May, but he has since begun to show signs of a reawakening of his talent.

With Michael Vaughan being put on a central contract by England, the Yorkshire captain David Byas decided it was high time Wood had a second stab at opening the innings, the first attempt having been deemed to have ended in failure the season before. That faith is beginning to be repaid.

Wood had started in the previous match with a solid 90 against Kent at Headingley and the good progress continued yesterday. The innings might have lacked dash, but his journey was a safe and assured passage to three figures.

The effortless pick-up which catapulted him to 104 in the third over after lunch was his second big hit of his four-and-a-half hour stint, during which he had suffered a painful blow to his left hand which needed a fair bit of treatment before he was able to carry on. When he lost his wicket it was to a canny bit of bowling. Richard Johnson had just bounced the batsman, the next ball was a fuller length which knocked back the youngster's off stump, but he departed having done an excellent job and with a sixth first-class hundred to his name, 144 months after his last one.

There had been an Australian theme running through the day. Even before the start an Aussie was in the news, Somerset's captain Jamie Cox, a Tasmanian, announcing he could take no further part in the match after X-rays in the morning revealed that he had sustained a fracture of his left thumb.

There was the continued poor form of Craig White, born in Leeds, raised in Australia, to nag at the England selectors, and then, rather tidily, towards the end of the day, another Australian batsman entered the frame. The South Australian Darren Lehmann steered Yorkshire safely past the follow-on and shortly afterwards reached the 50th hundred of his first-class career.