By Andrew Collomosse at Headingley
First day of four: Yorkshire (253-7) v Somerset
YORKSHIRE captain David Byas, typically, led from the front on an opening day of fluctuating fortunes and arctic temperatures.
Put into bat on an inhospitable morning, Yorkshire lost Anthony McGrath, leg before to Graham Rose, in the fourth over with just a single on the board.
And with Andrew Caddick, who less than a fortnight ago was enduring tropical heat in the Caribbean, in rampant mode at the Kirkstall Lane end, Somerset might have been thinking in terms of having a bat around teatime.
Byas had other ideas. He proceeded to a chanceless 21st century for the county in a little over five hours. He had faced 251 balls and hit 15 boundaries when he edged Rose to wicketkeeper Rob Turner in the 91st over.
He was well supported by Michael Vaughan, who shared a second-wicket stand of 81 in 31 overs before missing a straight one from Marcus Trescothick, and Matthew Wood.
The 21-year-old Wood, making his championship debut in the absence of Australian Darren Lehmann, batted with great determination and no mean skill in compiling a maiden half-century from 134 deliveries before he was trapped leg before by Keith Parsons.
A staunch supporter of Emley Football Club - he flew from a professional engagement in New Zealand to witness his favourites' FA Cup-tie at West Ham in January - Wood has insisted that he intends to still be around when Lehmann returns from his inter- national duties.
Batting was never easy on a lively Headingley pitch that offered plenty of help to a persevering seam attack.
Trescothick claimed Craig White, nightwatchman Richard Stemp and Bradley Parker for five runs in 18 balls en route to a career-best four for 47.
Day 2: Gough enjoys all-round return
By Neville Scott at Headingley
Second day of four: Yorkshire v Somerset
THERE is little question that, if fit and firing after his winter knee operation, Darren Gough will be among the first names agreed by England's selectors when they convene in six weeks' time to choose the side for the opening Test.
A typical bravura performance with the bat, raising gasps and chuckles in equal measure, left little doubt about his mobility at the crease. Scoreless overnight from six balls faced, he advanced with exaggerated care through the first hour to 24 after Yorkshire resumed on 253 for seven.
The lights then changed. Winding up for a straight drive against Andy Caddick, the England bowler he is arguably most likely to replace, he sliced away a boundary high over cover's head. Thirteen runs were taken from that over, Caddick's last, and in all his final 65 runs - before, last out, he brought an early lunch - needed just 61 balls.
If some of his 14 fours were mis-hit, Gough struck with such easy power that his shots unfailingly cleared the infield. And there was genuine calculation, too. Taking a bizarre guard outside off stump, he nonchalantly flicked Somerset's disorientated seamers on the up off his pads over midwicket and square leg with a joyously free backlift, like a golfer lofting to the green.
On a pitch granting enough life to promise a result, Gough's 89, happily supported by Richard Blakey with 20 which, in utter contrast, took 29 overs, may well prove match-winning.
Taking the new ball, Gough soon had Piran Holloway ducking into a short delivery which in fact so skidded on that the bowler went into a vehement lbw appeal before, to his immense relief, his 25th ball removed Peter Bowler. It had been a long wait. This was Gough's first wicket since July 27 last year when he bowled Jason Gillespie in the Leeds Test.
Reason enough, you might think, for cheer. But some at Headingley can find gloom in most things. It was soon noted that these were con- ditions for Peter Hartley, released last season against his captain's wishes and celebrating his 38th birthday at Oxford by knocking over student openers for his new county, Hampshire.
At Derby, meanwhile, Alex Wharf, top of Yorkshire's 2nd XI bowling averages last year, was claiming his first wicket for Notts even as Gough was being caught on the midwicket boundary. Alex Morris, and brother Zac, other promising Academy products, have also gone to Hampshire, while Richard Kettleborough is now at Middlesex.
Yorkshire's bowling resources may be tested this year, with Gough potentially missing nine or more games. Certainly other seamers responded well yesterday as Chris Silverwood's lift undid Holloway and had Richard Harden hooking to long leg and Paul Hutchison claimed Keith Parsons lbw.
Day 3: Yorkshire close in
By Andrew Collomosse at Headingley
Third day of four: Somerset (237 & 46-5) need 305 to beat Yorkshire (383 & 204-9 dec)
WEATHER permitting, a convincing victory for Yorkshire should be little more than a formality.
With five batsmen already back in the pavilion, Somerset will resume hostilities with a rampant Yorkshire attack with at least two of their players - Piran Holloway and Graham Rose suffering from a flu virus.
In the circumstances, therefore, Rose's morning half-century that helped Somerset avoid the follow-on was particularly meritorious. He and Adrian Pierson added 88 for the eighth wicket before Pierson and Andrew Caddick ensured that Yorkshire would bat again.
Yorkshire lost Anthony McGrath cheaply for the second time but once again Michael Vaughan and David Byas consolidated, adding 94 in 23 overs. Their departure in the space of three overs precipitated a decline that culminated in the loss of four wickets for nine runs in 17 balls.
Caddick claimed three of them, including England rival Darren Gough first ball, and his success was enough to prompt Byas to call a halt with the lead exactly 350 and give his own pace attack the opportunity to make early inroads into the Somerset batting.
Day 4: White in a hurry to clean up
By Andrew Collomosse at Headingley
Yorkshire (383 & 204-9dec) bt Somerset (237 & 135) by 215 runs
AN explosive spell of seam bowling by Craig White enabled Yorkshire to seal an emphatic opening victory five minutes before lunch yesterday.
White spilled a simple chance at first slip in the sixth over of the day but responded by claiming four wickets for 13 runs in 12.2 overs of unbridled aggression.
It was a telling response to those who have already consigned White's England career to the scrapheap. For if he maintains this level of hostility over the coming weeks, he will surely thrust himself back into the selectors' thoughts.
Piran Holloway, the man to profit from White's lapse off Chris Silverwood, was the first victim, playing on.
White then pulled off a spectacular return catch to remove Marcus Trescothick; trapped Simon Ecclestone, batting with a runner after suffering a recurrence of an old knee injury, leg before to a slower ball; and finally had Andrew Caddick caught behind by Richard Blakey to bring proceedings to a close.
In between, Darren Gough chipped in with the wicket of Graham Rose, well caught at long-leg by Bradley Parker, to leave Yorkshire captain David Byas justifiably contented with his side's performance on a Headingley wicket whose pace and movement was a tribute to the diligence of groundsman Andy Fogarty.
Byas, however, believes there is still plenty of room for improvement in a squad which will be strengthened by the arrival of Australian Darren Lehmann this weekend and by Gough's gradual return to peak fitness.
``Darren bowled well in spells, particularly this morning, but he is still a little bit match rusty,'' said Byas.
``But he is fit and with a couple more games behind him he will be firing on all cylinders again.''