Match Preview | Somerset v Essex


With the white-ball season now at an end, Essex can concentrate exclusively on Specsavers County Championship action between now and the end of the season. The County Champions resume defence of the title with a trip to Taunton to face Somerset, starting on Sunday.

Head Coach Anthony McGrath has named a 12-man squad for Sunday’s match, which sees the return of Peter Siddle to the four-day game. He started the campaign with Essex for the first five matches of the season and quickly became a fan favourite.

McGrath is looking forward to getting back to the longer format of the game although he admitted that the scheduling has not been kind after coming straight from Vitality Blast action. 

“It’s going to be tough playing back-to-back fixtures in the T20 and then travel down to Taunton for Championship cricket again on Sunday, it’s just a crazy demand.” he said.

“But it is what it is and we just have to get on with it.

“It will be good to get back to red-ball cricket again and there’s almost half a season to go in the Championship.

“Our last game in that format was against Somerset at Chelmsford and I thought we fared well in that match and nearly forced a win, so we’ll be looking to go down there and produce another good performance.

“Peter Siddle is with us for at least three of our remaining six Championship matches and there’s a chance he could be available for one more fixture. The Australian season starts earlier this year because of the longer Big Bash schedule but at the moment, we are still waiting to see whether he will be able to play that additional game for us. In the meantime, we are looking for a replacement to cover the remaining fixtures.”

Essex still have six matches to play in the competition and resume the red-ball campaign in fourth place on the Division One table with 92 points. Somerset are currently in second place having amassed 119 points, with runaway leaders Surrey currently on 153 points; all three teams have played 8 of their 14 matches.

Essex have included last year’s two leading wicket-takers in the competition after Jamie Porter was released to play from the England squad. That means he can link up again with Simon Harmer as the duo look to continue their incisive combination.

Off-spinner Harmer has not given up hopes of the county retaining their title, although he acknowledges that they need to be at the top of their game over the remaining weeks of the season.

“We need to play like defending Champions if we are to achieve that,” he admitted.

“As in all formats this season, I think we’ve been a little bit off the mark in our four-day cricket this year.

“We’ve been a little bit inconsistent and our senior players need to put their hands up to ensure we are leading the charge by putting in some big performances, starting on Sunday.

“We still have Surrey to play twice and we’ve certainly got the talent to win the competition but it’s going to take a big team effort.”

Essex squad to face Somerset:

Ryan ten Doeschate (27) (captain)
Ravi Bopara (25)
Nick Browne (10)
Varun Chopra (6)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Matt Quinn (94)
Peter Siddle (64)
Tom Westley (21)
Adam Wheater (31) (wicket-keeper)