Double century maker a real find

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The Independent Online
DEREK HODGSON

reports from Taunton

Gloucestershire 424 and 347-8

Somerset 478

Match drawn

For those who have yet to see him, Andrew Symonds is a slim, tanned, six-footer who was born in Birmingham, bred in Queensland and who has the makings of a potentially great right-handed batsman. Yesterday he scored his second century in two first-class games for Gloucestershire.

His story is not dissimilar to that of Craig White, born in Yorkshire, raised in New South Wales, the controversial difference being that Symonds, after his 108 not out against England last winter, announced he wanted to play for Australia. Gloucestershire are praying that the Test and County Cricket Board will accept that he is English and that any such remark was made off-camera and included no derogatory reference to the Committee.

Were England to choose him in the Texaco squad, due in about 10 days, that would settle the matter. Meanwhile Gloucestershire know they have unearthed a nugget of pure gold who could be fashioned into something spectacular. Symonds sees the ball very early, a basic requisite for the great player, and hits with tremendous force yet has the supple wrists necessary to cope with spin.

No one would suggest that yesterday's 102, off 137 balls, including two sixes, both off Mushtaq, and 14 fours, was a classic. A good pitch was showing just enough wear to encourage the spinners into believing that the next ball might turn, or lift, a lot; but their hopes were not greatly realised.

Gloucestershire had begun the day seven runs behind with all second-innings wickets intact. Somerset were without their quick bowlers, Andrew Caddick and Andre van Troost, both injured and neither captain, rightly, would commit suicide in the cause of seeking an entertaining result.

Somerset whittled away and Dean Hodgson produced an obdurate 81 in almost four hours. The excitement came after tea when Harvey Trump dismissed Jack Russell and Javagal Srinath with successive balls.

Symonds did reveal some nerves in the 90s, taking 55 minutes to pass 100 and then showing his jubilation more like a promoted Birmingham City player than a laconic larrikin from the Gabba; maybe that proves his origin beyond doubt. He will certainly brighten this summer.

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