Lathwell lays firm foundation

Somerset 249-7 Warwickshire 223 Somerset win by 26 runs
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The Independent Online
A dazzling 93 from Mark Lathwell, the major contribution to a county record fourth-wicket stand in the Sunday League, reinforced a growing belief that his time, like Nasser Hussain's, may come again. He had an impressive first full season in 1992, was hurriedly capped against Australia in 1993 when out of form and has since been left to trundle around the cricketing world on A tours.

At 24, he is now showing a sense of maturity and the value of experience. He saw his first three partners depart charging while he remained composed, disdainful of such giddiness. It was not until he was joined by Shane Lee, at 56 for 3 after 14 overs, that he decided to open up as well, being reluctant to concede centre stage to the Australian.

Lathwell's strength is his ability to see the ball early, wait and then apply with a minimum of movement, short arm jabs that that give the bowler and the field no time to anticipate the likely direction of the ball when it comes off the bat. With Lee having a fuller swing, they made a contrasting pair as they added 156 in 21 exciting overs, beating the 144 raised by Steve Waugh and Ricky Bartlett against Middlesex at Lord's eight years ago.

Lathwell's zenith was a glorious straight six off Dougie Brown, and when he eventually fell in attempting to clear long off, his runs had been made of 94 balls.

Lee, trying to attack against Shaun Pollock, was caught at deep mid-off in the next over and Somerset, at 212 for 4 with 30 balls remaining, could have made hay.

In fact, only another 36 runs were forthcoming as the county champions remembered who they were. Pollock spent all but five minutes of the interval signing autographs for a gathering of about 250 children before Warwickshire lost Andy Moles to mid-off, at 12, the start of an innings that struggled to gain impetus.

A used pitch was possibly a little less reliable and only Neil Smith and various passing partners promised success. Smith was beautifully caught right on the deep mid-wicket fence, a catch which was bettered only by Rob Turner's dash for 30 yards from behind his stumps, with his back to the ball, to dismiss Dermot Reeve.

By that stage Somerset had a strangle-hold on the match and 58 runs off the last five overs was too big a bound even for the Bears.

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