Yorkshire, the Championship leaders, were given a right old roasting yesterday, their hopes of easy pickings on what had begun as a seamer-friendly pitch before it flattened out put to the torch by Michael Burns.
Now in his fifth season with Somerset, Burns is someone who smoulders at the crease, rather than blazes. He is more of the slow but steady fuse. He is 32 and made his debut with Warwickshire a decade ago, but all five of his first-class hundreds have been made since his move to Taunton. He made leisurely progress yesterday, content to play second fiddle to his captain Jamie Cox while they piled up 206 for the second wicket, a record for the county against Yorkshire, comfortably passing the previous mark set in 1926.
Yorkshire did have a couple of chances to nip the stand in the bud. Cox was missed on 20 at first slip off Steve Kirby, who also had Burns lbw off a no ball when he was on 18. The Lancashire-born Kirby should have picked up a keen appreciation of the highs and lows of the game. Only last week, after he had been drafted in as a second-innings replacement for Matthew Hoggard, his seven wickets on his debut helped Yorkshire to victory over Kent.
He still showed enough of the venom and fire that had persuaded Yorkshire to take him on for the next two years. He certainly pulled some fierce expressions on his walk back, and by all accounts he had plenty to say to the batsmen, but it was spirited stuff, rather than gratuitous verbal violence. He certainly showed a lot of heart, as did Hoggard.
David Byas, who had not unreasonably elected to field on winning the toss (Cox said he would have, too), must have had an inkling that it was not to be Yorkshire's day after Burns was caught gloving down the leg side off a Hoggard no ball when he had made five.
Thereafter the edge went out of the surface and the Somerset batsmen tamed an attack that resorted to seven bowlers. Not even the fall of Cox when a whisker away from his first hundred of the summer heralded any respite. The Somerset debutant Matthew Wood, 20, then batted like a veteran, saw Burns pass his career best, shared in a century stand for the third wicket and reached his maiden fifty with the eighth boundary of his burgeoning innings.
* At Arundel, Chris Adams made his former county Derbyshire suffer with 192 as Sussex fought back after a bad start to reach 349 for 8. Adams' innings was his highest for Sussex since his acrimonious move from Derbyshire four years ago. The Sussex captain featured in a sixth-wicket stand of 176 with Matt Prior, who hit 66.Reuse content