Yorkshire's spirit is gradually eroded

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Yorkshire 269-6 v Somerset

For a time, one might have been forgiven for thinking that it was Yorkshire, not Somerset, who, earlier this week, had gone through to the Benson and Hedges Cup semi-finals. They were given a splendid start and the 19-year- old Anthony McGrath looked a batsman of real promise in only his third Championship match.

But later, on a slow, turning wicket against the intriguing wrist spin of Mushtaq Ahmed and the off-spin of Harvey Trump, wickets fell to a combination of good bowling and bad strokes, and by the end Yorkshire's early advantage had been thrown away.

Jason Kerr and Simon Ecclestone both bowled a tidy line and length against the openers, McGrath and Michael Vaughan, without looking much like dismissing batsmen who were content to take their time finding their bearings.

Then, gradually, they began to play some strokes. McGrath has a simple, unhurried method based on sound, quick footwork; he picks up the line of the ball early and, although he prefers to come on to the front foot, has a good range of strokes.

He played some lovely cover drives, picked up runs off his legs and square- cut well - all his strokes being helped by a nice sense of timing. Vaughan has a more stilted style and at times it was almost as if he was playing his shots by numbers. They had put on 97 by lunch and soon afterwards Vaughan went to cut a short one from Ecclestone and was out to a brilliant right-handed catch low in the gulley by Trump. This made way for David Byas, Yorkshire's acting captain, who had an early piece of luck when he was dropped behind.

Mushtaq was the best and most entertaining of the bowlers although ideally he needs a pitch with more pace and bounce than this one.

Just when McGrath seemed to be sure of his first hundred, Mushtaq produced a big googly which bowled him off the inside edge as he drove. There were now some lovely stylish left-handed strokes from Byas, the best of which was a whip through midwicket for four off Ecclestone.

Michael Bevan, his partner, is making a habit of getting himself out when well set and this time he was lbw sweeping at Mushtaq. Byas was then bowled off his pads shuffling across his stumps to a quick top-spinner and before the end Craig White had chopped on cutting against the spin of Trump who then bowled Richard Blakey on the back foot instead of the front.

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