Yorkshire 438 Somerset 309-4: James Hildreth on brink of emulating Graeme Hick run spree of 1988

His innings ended in frustration when, with a firm straight hit, he was caught by Adil Rashid in his follow-through for 82

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The Independent Online

It remains one of cricket’s mysteries of recent years that James Hildreth’s international career has never gone beyond England Lions level. Few batsmen can have been mentioned more often in selection meetings only to be passed over.

Yet his talent is undisputed. Back in 2009, he scored a triple century in the opening game of the season – the earliest on record in an English season – and he stands again on the brink of proving a point. Should he manage 85 in the second innings, he will become the first since Graeme Hick in 1988 to score 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May.

There have been a few who have gone close in recent seasons, Nick Compton and Adam Lyth among them, and some will argue that the achievement would be devalued anyway because the season starts earlier, although that supposition is flawed.  When Hick did it, the fixture list comprised more matches and fewer rest days.

His innings ended in frustration when, with a firm straight hit, he was caught by Adil Rashid in his follow-through for 82, having attacked from the start, scoring his first 50 runs from just 30 deliveries, including consecutive sixes off Rashid.  It was valuable, though, in Somerset’s cause. With Marcus Trescothick, Tom Abell and Tom Cooper also scoring half-centuries, they have avoided the follow-on in some comfort.

Otherwise, it was a day for Yorkshire to appreciate what they have, in more than one sense.

After the good news – for them, at least – delivered by Jason Gillespie before play that he would not be leaving to coach England, Tim Bresnan emphasised again that he is another extraordinarily good cricketer whose value is underestimated although in his case, not in terms of international recognition. He has been selected by England 142 times across all levels.  

Yet he has also suffered, in a way, through his own versatility, a fate that befalls many who divide their talents between the two main disciplines, seldom batting high enough to build a substantial innings or into the attack early enough to bowl when the batsmen are at their most vulnerable. Here, his 100 not out off 136 balls helped the champions gain a fifth batting bonus point.