Match Report | Somerset v Essex


Somerset v Essex | Specsavers County Championship | The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton | Friday 14 – Monday 17 April

Somerset team | Marcus Trescothick (2), Dean Elgar (64), Tom Abell (28)*, James Hildreth (25), Steven Davies + (11), Peter Trego (7), Lewis Gregory (24), Roelof van der Merwe (52), Craig Overton (12), Jamie Overton (8), Jack Leach (17).

Essex team | Alastair Cook (26), Nick Browne (10), Tom Westley (21), Dan Lawrence (28), Ravi Bopara (25), Adam Wheater + (31), Ryan ten Doeschate* (27), Simon Harmer (11), Ashar Zaidi (99), Neil Wagner (13), Jamie Porter (44).

Umpires | Michael Gough & Graham Lloyd

Scorers | A E Choat & G Stickley

Result | Essex won by 8 wickets 

Day Three | Match Highlights

Day Three | Close of Play Report

Alastair Cook produced a typical in innings of the highest quality scoring sublime century as Essex beat last year’s runners-up Somerset by 8 wickets at Taunton to register their first win since returning to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship.

England’s leading run-scorer was untroubled, easing his way to a classy 110 to act as the catalyst as the visitors chased down a target of 255 runs for victory with little concern.

He was given excellent support by Tom Westley who was 86 not out when the match concluded as the pair shared a second wicket partnership of 134 before Cook, who reached a chanceless century from 202 deliveries with 16 boundaries, was dismissed with Essex on the brink of success.

Essex had started the day on 10 without loss and Nick Browne and Cook took control immediately taking the score to 82 before Browne, who had batted responsibly for 35, slashed at a long-hop from Jamie Overton and was caught behind the wicket. That proved to be the only success for the home side before lunch just a day after 18 wickets had fallen.

Westley entered the scene and was soon off the mark playing with freedom and working the ball through the gaps particularly through the leg side whilst Cook cut and drove with well-timed shots.

Such was the authority in which the Essex batsmen played the home attack that they made the pitch look placid in contrast to it’s perceived vagaries on the opening two days.

By lunch, Cook and Westley had taken the total to 101 for one from 41 overs and with the home side looking increasingly dispirited.

There was no let-up for the home side after the break either as Cook, who had reached his half-century from 92 balls, continued to display immaculate shot selection in moving relentlessly towards three figures.

Westley, only the second player in the match to reach 50 arrived at his half-century from 87 balls with 9 fours and batting with excellent shot-selection. Cook’s hundred arrived soon after when he found the leg-side boundary when facing spinner Jack Leach.

The impressive partnership was broken just before tea and, somewhat surprisingly, by Dean Elgar’s second delivery of his return to Somerset. The South African Test batsman, whose slow left-arm spin was seemingly introduced as an afterthought by skipper Tom Abell, offered up a tempting short ball and saw Cook pull it straight to James Hildreth at mid-wicket.

But Cook had orchestrated the victory march for his side. At 216 for two, only a further 39 were required. By tea another 6 runs had been added with Westley by now on 62.

Somerset took the second new ball at 233 for two, with only 22 needed but the down-hearted hosts saw the first delivery pass for four byes before Westley, shortly afterwards, top-edged a six off Craig Overton.

Westley ended the match with a four off Lewis Gregory taking his tally to 16 boundaries including one six from the 146 deliveries he had faced. Accompanying him across the finishing line was Dan Lawrence who was 11 not out.

Essex claimed 19 points from a match and Somerset four in which fortunes oscillated dramatically. Having been delighted to dismiss Somerset for 209 in their first innings, Essex were then rolled over from 129 of which Cook scored 52. The home side then tottered to 124 for 9 before a last wicket stand of 50 revived their spirits leaving the visitors to make the highest score of the match if they were to win.

It was to prove a stroll in the park as victory was completed with more than a day to spare.

Day Three | Tea Report

Alastair Cook took Essex to the cusp of victory having scored 110 before he was dismissed in the penultimate over before tea. At the interval, Essex were 222 for 2 and just 33 runs short of completing victory. Tom Westley is 62 not out and Dan Lawrence will resume 4 not out.

In sunny and breezy weather, Cook and Westley batted beautifully after lunch, timing the ball to perfection as they drove and cut profitably – and regularly – to keep the scoreboard moving along whilst refusing to offer the bowlers any signs of encouragement.

Westley brought up his half-century with a cover drive off Jack Leach; his 9th four of an 87 ball innings at that stage.

In the next over from Leach, Cook reached his century with the 16th boundary of his innings and having faced 202 deliveries. He and Westley were in sight of tea having put on 134 in 40 overs when, with the total on 216, Cook was dismissed when caught at mid-wicket by James Hildreth after loosely pulling a delivery from Dean Elgar who was sending down his first over.

By then, he had batted for 4 hours and 22 minutes to mastermind the Essex pursuit of 255 to win.

Day Three | Lunch Report

Alastair Cook has taken Essex closer to victory with a chanceless half-century as the visitors reached 101 for 1 at the interval in pursuit of an overall target of 255 to beat Somerset at Taunton. The England opener was unbeaten on 56 when the break arrived whilst Tom Westley was 5 not out.

The only wicket to fall in a session that saw Essex add 91 runs was that of Nick Browne who had scored 35 out of 82 when he chased a wide long-hop from Jamie Overton and edged the ball to wicket-keeper Steven Davies.

Cook had faced 92 balls and struck 8 boundaries when he completed his second half-century of the match and so far, he is the only player from either side to reach 50 in the game.

Essex had resumed on 10 without loss and Cook and Browne made smooth progress, both finding the ropes in the first two overs of the day. Cook played the ball sweetly off his toes and through mid-wicket and then his opening partner drove the ball through the leg side to the deep mid-wicket zone.

Both continued to gather runs comfortably with a fine cover drove by Browne raising the 50 stand before the batsman straight drove the next ball to the ropes.

Cook had also swept finely on the leg side and after an hour’s play, the visitors had taken their score from an overnight 10 onto 62 without loss.

Browne had played with assurance and confidence and it was disappointing when he fell to a wayward delivery.

Cook though continued to play impressively offering no encouragement to the bowling attack and a couple of runs brought him to his fifty soon after Browne’s dismissal.

The Essex total was helped along courtesy of 5 wides from one ball from the wayward and by lunch, the visitors required a further 154 runs for victory. Cook has so far faced 118 balls.

Day Two | Match Highlights

Day Two | Close of Play Report

On a day when 18 wickets fell, Essex reached the close on 10 without loss in pursuit of 255 runs to win the match with two days still remaining at Taunton. Nick Browne is unbeaten on 6 whilst Alastair Cook will resume in the morning 4 not out.

After the visitors lost their last 8 first innings wickets for 65 runs, they clawed themselves back in contention when Neil Wagner produced a fine spell of leg theory short-pitched bowling in a spell in which he was rewarded with 5 wickets at a personal cost of 17 runs that reduced the home side to 124 for 9 and a lead of just over 200.

But Essex were then frustrated by a last wicket stand between Craig Overton and Jack Leach that raised 50 runs and the highest partnership of the innings before Wagner returned to end Essex’s frustration when Craig Overton was caught by Ashar Zaidi at third man off a sliced upper cut having scored 22.

That wicket gave the New Zealand Test pace bowler figures for the innings of 6 for 48 from 12.2 overs.

The home side had started their second innings with a lead of 80 runs but Jamie Porter claimed two wickets by the time 25 more runs had been added. Simon Harmer and Ravi Bopara carried on the early problems for the hosts to reduce them to 71 for 4 after James Hildreth’s 35 and 27 from Dean Elgar. Then Wagner took centre-stage.

The Somerset batsmen did not seem to relish Wagner’s attacking line with a number executing loose shots to flounder as the home side were reduced to 124 for 9 before being revitalised by the half-century stand.

Wagner accounted for Steven Davies who clubbed to point, Peter Trego who edged behind the wicket, Roelof van der Merwe who picked out mid-wicket, whilst Lewis Gregory pulled to deep fine leg before Jamie Overton top-edged a skier to Adam Wheater.

None of those batsmen managed more than 17 but with Wagner then given a well-deserved and earned rest, Essex were forced to wait for 50 minutes before they could polish off the innings.

And it was Wagner who raced in to claim the last wicket with his second delivery of a new spell and his sixth of the innings.

Earlier in the day, Essex resumed on 60 for 2 but by the time that Alastair Cook reached an 85-ball half-century that included 9 boundaries, Dan Lawrence a d Ravi Bopara had been dismissed for 0 and 8 respectively.

Cook was bowled by Gregory for 52 off an inside edge, and of the remaining batsmen, only Zaidi managed double figures. He scored 23 before he was the last man out as the visitors were rolled over for 129 with van der Merwe claiming 3 for 26.

Cook then returned to the crease for a second time in the day when he and Browne had to face 7 overs that were successfully negotiated to set up what could be an absorbing day’s play tomorrow.

Day Two | Tea Report

Having commenced their second innings with a lead of 80 runs after Essex were dismissed for 129, Somerset reached tea on 108 for 5 with Lewis Gregory on 5 and Peter Trego 17 not out.

Jamie Porter was in his second over with the new ball when he pinned Marcus Trescothick leg before wicket for 5 as the former England opener looked to play the ball into the leg side. 

Just 11 runs were on the board and Porter was celebrating again 14 runs later. He had what looked an excellent shout for lbw against Tom Abell turned down but with the next ball, the unnerved Abell was caught by Adam Wheater for a duck.

James Hildreth wasted little time in getting the scoring moving but he was given two lives, both off Ravi Bopara. He had reached 26 when he was dropped by Adam Wheater and four runs later, was dropped in the deep by Ashar Zaidi. Those errors allowed him to post a 44 runs stand in 9 overs with Dean Elgar but that came to an end when the opener was trapped leg before by Simon Harmer when he reached forward with his score on 27 to leave the home side 69 for 3. 

Two runs later and with his score on 35, Hildreth’s luck ran out when Harmer pulled off a fine catch in the gully to give Bopara a deserved wicket. With Essex seeking further wickets before tea to keep the door open on their chances of winning the game, they had to wait a further 8 overs and 29 runs before Neil Wagner brought a powerful drive from Steven Davies that went to Porter at point as the home side were reduced to 100 for 5.

Earlier in the session, the visitors first innings was soon wrapped up with both the remaining wickets falling in 7 deliveries for the addition of 8 runs. Jamie Overton found the edge of Wagner’s bat and was caught by wicket-keeper Davies for 5 before Zaidi was also claimed by Davies, this time for 23 and when facing Jack Leach.

Day Two | Lunch Report

A batting collapse was the story of the morning as Essex were reduced to 121 for 8 at the interval. Ashar Zaidi was unbeaten on 21 and Neil Wagner was still to get off the mark when the interval arrived to give the visitors, who lost 6 wickets in the session whilst adding 61 runs to their overnight score, some respite.

Had it not been for a half-century by Alastair Cook, the visitors plight would have been even worse. In contrast to his innings yesterday evening when he cut and drove with freedom, the former England captain found himself tied down by the spin of Jack Leach although a drive through mid-wicket to the boundary did advance him from his overnight 39 runs.

A single took him to his half-century having faced 85 balls from which he found the ropes on nine occasions but having reached 52, he was bowled by paceman Lewis Gregory off an inside edge as he played forward.

The fall of the wicket left Essex 81for 5, Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara having already come and gone.

Lawrence was trapped in front of his stumps by Craig Overton without score in the third over of the morning whilst Bopara, with the total on 81, attempted to sweep Leach and was bowled for 8. Cook departed without addition to that total and the visitors woes deepened with two wickets falling ten runs later and in the space of four balls.

Ryan ten Doeschate clipped a delivery from Gregory into the hands of James Hildreth at mid-wicket having scored 4 before Adam Wheater went in the next over when he played around a delivery from spinner Roelof van der Merwe.

Simon Harmer joined Ashar Zaidi to take the total into three figures and the pair posted the highest stand of the day before their 28 runs alliance ended when Harmer, who had contributed 9, pushed forward to van der Merwe and edged the ball into the gloves of Steven Davies.

Day One | Match Highlights

Day One | Close of Play Report:

Essex can be very satisfied with the performance on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Taunton having bowled Somerset out for 209 with Ashar Zaidi returning 3 for 17, his career-best figures for the county.

Alastair Cook then steered the visitors to 60 for 2 from 20.5 overs at the close with an unbeaten 39 although Tom Westley was bowled for 10 in the final over, one of 6 wickets to fall to spin in the day

Cook executed some classic drives that at one stage brought him 4 boundaries in six balls when facing paceman Jamie Overton. Of his first 33 runs, twenty-eight had come in fours.

Somerset won the toss but were undone by slow left-arm bowler Zaidi who was well-supported by fellow spinner Simon Harmer who took 2 for 51 whilst Ravi Bopara and Neil Wagner chipped in with two wickets apiece at a cost of 10 and 78 respectively.

Whilst Harmer was brought into the attack in the 12th over of the morning, Zaidi had to wait until immediately after lunch before he was given the ball but took only three overs before he was to gain his first victim.

That was south African Test batsman Dean Elgar who had batted through the morning session but lost his wicket when he came down the pitch and was beaten and stumped by Adam Wheater for 34. The bowler also accounted for Roelof van der Merwe who was trapped leg before and Jamie Overton who played an ugly swipe to a delivery, missed and the ball rattled middle stump.

Somerset openers Marcus Trescothick and Dean Elgar posted a half-century stand before Bopara captured two wickets in 10 balls both with the assistance of Alastair Cook at first slip.

Marcus Trescothick had scored half of the 52 runs on the scoreboard when he was caught off the edge of the bat when Cook dived to his right at first slip to hold a low catch. Then two runs later Cook held a knee-high catch to send Tom Abell on his way.

James Hildreth and Elgar then composed the highest partnership of the day with a third wicket stand of 54 before Elgar departed to be followed by Hildreth, who was caught by Bopara at fine leg to give the deserving Jamie Porter a wicket.

That left the home side 112 for 4 and that became 130 for 5 with the departure of Steven Davies when Harmer turned a ball past his bat to hit off stump.

With the visitors now in control, Wagner, who had maintained a leg-side approach to Lewis Gregory, gained reward when Harmer, stationed at short fine leg, caught the batsman.

Trego who top-scored with 48, looked confident and play aggressively but lost the services of van der Merwe with the score on 176 before he became a Zaidi victim 12 runs later. Zaidi grabbed his third wicket and Wagner wrapped up the innings when Jack Leach skied an intended drive into Wheater’s gloves.

The Essex openers had faced just two overs during which time, Cook got the scored moving with a couple of runs before bad light interrupted proceedings. After a half-hour hold-up, play resumed but within 6 overs, Nick Browne was dismissed for 11 when he played inside a ball from Craig Overton and was bowled.

Cook’s quality innings proved one of the features of the day but the loss of Tom Westley with what proved to be the final ball of the day gave the home side a welcome boost.

Day One | Tea Report:

An excellent session for Essex who captured five wickets to leave their opponents 186 for 7 at the tea break.

There were two wickets for Ashar Zaidi and one each for Jamie Porter, Simon Harmer and Neil Wagner as the home side added 91 runs to their lunch score.

Zaidi joined the attack immediately after lunch and in his third over, removed the obdurate opener Dean Elgar for 34. The South African batsman came down the track and was beaten and stumped by Adam Wheater to leave Somerset 108 for 3.

Just 4 runs later, Porter accounted for the free-scoring James Hildreth who was caught by Ravi Bopara at fine leg for 36 and Essex were to claim another victim when Harmer breached the defence of Steven Davies who was bowled for 12.

Now 130 for 5, Somerset slipped further into trouble with the loss of Lewis Gregory. Neil Wagner had persisted with leg side line of attack against the batsman and was rewarded when Gregory played the ball into the safe hands of Harmer at short fine leg having scored 3 to leave the home side now 143 for 6.

Peter Trego though continued to play with confidence and was quick to punish the looser delivery collecting five fours and a six in his boundary tally. He brought the total past 150 with a cover drive to the ropes when facing Harmer but the hosts were destined to lose another wicket shortly before the tea interval.

And it was Zaidi who completed a fine afternoon for his side when he had Roelof van der Merwe leg before for 7 as the batsman prodded forward.

Trego was just two runs short of his half-century at the tea interval whilst Zaidi could reflect on figures of 8-2-9-2 for his afternoon’s work.

Day One | Lunch Report:

Somerset, who won the toss, reached lunch on 95 for 2 with Ravi Bopara picking up both wickets along with the assistance of Alastair Cook. Dean Elgar is unbeaten on 30 and James Hildreth 28 not out.

Left-handers Trescothick and Elgar faced the new ball attack of Jamie Porter and Neil Wagner. It was the New Zealand Test bowler that proved the more expensive with both batsmen finding the ropes, including successive boundaries for Elgar.

Wagner was replaced after conceding 31 off his opening 5 overs when off spinner Simon Harmer was brought into the attack for the 12th over of the match.

However, it was Bopara who was to find the breakthrough. Taking over from Porter, whose tidy 8 overs cost just 13 runs, the all-rounder was to check the home side’s progress with two in 10 deliveries.

The Somerset openers had posted 52 from 18.5 overs when Bopara struck in his fourth over. He Somerset opening pair had been at the crease for an hour and three-quarters when Trescothick, having scored half the runs on the board, drove off an edge and Cook took a fine catch diving to his right at first slip.

The double act of Bopara and Cook then repeated their performance 2 runs later when Somerset skipper Tom Abell, on 1, edged the bowler into the hands of Cook.

Ryan ten Doeschate rotated his attack with Harmer, who had two leg before appeals turned down, switching to the River End to replace Bopara.

Wagner was re-introduced into the attack but continued to prove costly. By the interval, his 8 overs had yielded 55 runs. Porter has figures of 8-4-13-0 and Harmer 10-5-11-0.

Varun Chopra and Aaron Beard were omitted from the 13-man squad named ahead of the match Alastair Cook and Ashar Zaidi both making their first Championship appearances of the season.