Northants 297 and 206-3
THIS honest County Ground track was just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Marcus Trescothick. The 19-year-old's career-best 151 dispelled his poor start to the season as a blemish on his promising portfolio.
The innings, rattled up at a bracing tempo, formed the foundation of what seemed a testing total. However, the visitors' attack lacked venom and penetration, and the positive Northamptonshire reply made significant inroads into the target of 289.
Trescothick's method was uncomplicated and highly effective, simply to wait for the bad ball. The left-hander's timing was sweet and when he was the fifth man out, a victim of late swing, his colleagues had contributed just 78 runs.
The Indian leg-spinner, Anil Kumble, was countered with confidence, although the bitter breeze was a slow bowler's nightmare. As a result, loose balls were frequent and Trescothick rarely missed out. Kumble has a bouncy approach and whirling action similar to the West Indian, Roger Harper.
He, too, fired the ball in and threatened to trap the batsman behind the wicket from edges. Many of his 89 runs conceded were through the vacant third man region, although his four wickets were an eventual victory for variation.
On Trescothick's departure, Simon Ecclestone continued the impressive Somerset counter-attack with his second half- century of the game, from a mere 71 balls. The skipper, Andy Hayhurst, was in more conservative mood, and the demise of the remaining Somerset batting justified his greater caution.
Wickets fell in flurries, two in three balls from a frisky David Capel and two more in one Kevin Curran over. Both bowlers, along with the left- armer Paul Taylor, kept the Somerset batsmen on their toes, and if Curtly Ambrose had still been around, one suspects there would have been precious little in the way of front-foot play.
Tim Walton's sparkling 71, following a minor Northamptonshire hiccup before tea when the enterprising openers, Alan Fordham and Russell Warren, departed in quick succession, punished some wayward bowling from a depleted Somerset attack.