Benkenstein shines again as Second XI see off Somerset in nail-biter


Luc Benkenstein claimed a second ten-wicket haul of the season as the Second XI edged out Somerset by just seven runs at Taunton Vale.

Having taken five in the first innings and then six in the second, Benkenstein’s overall match figures stood at 11/148, taking his tally of Second XI Championship wickets this season to 27 in just four games.

It was a second victory of 2024 for Essex in the competition, with Ben Allison’s 70 in the visitors’ second innings proving crucial in setting Somerset a target of 239 for victory, which they fell just short of.

Put in to bat after losing the toss in the West Country, the second-string Eagles totalled 215 all out in their first innings, with captain Robin Das’s 41 representing the top score.

Simon Fernandes, Charlie Allison, and Jamal Richards all added similarly valuable contributions, scoring 38, 37, and 36 respectively, but Blaise Baker’s 3/42 restricted their efforts.

In response, the hosts secured a narrow first-innings lead of 18 by posting 233 all out, with England-capped Jack Leach opening the batting and making 28, while Lachlan Rice top-scored with 42.

Alongside Benkenstein’s haul of 5/67, Richards claimed 2/33 while Ben Allison took 2/36, and Aaron Beard picked up the other wicket in returning 1/38.

Allison the elder then made 70 as part of the hosts’ 256 all out in their second dig, as other telling contributions came from brother Charlie, who hit 35, as well as Aum Patel and struck 33

Alfie Ogborne led the way with the ball for the hosts, taking 4/66, but the question heading into Somerset’s chase was whether or not the target would be enough.

As it turned out, it would be, as Benkenstein ripped through the order to return even better figures of 6/81 in dismissing the hosts for 231, just short of the required runs.

Wicketkeeper Charlie Mumford hit 48 and Josh Thomas made 47, but captain Leach, again opening, was the only other man to reach 30 as Beard, Ben Allison, and Richards were all in the wickets again.

At 173-4, there would have been more confidence among the chasing batters, but the Eagles’ attack stuck to its task and claimed the final six scalps for just 58, sealing a confidence-boosting win.

The visitors took 19 points from the clash in comparison to Somerset’s three, and now sit sixth in the table ahead of the red-ball format taking a break prior to the start of the T20 campaign.

The Eagles Have Landed: The 2024 Vitality Blast at The Cloud County Ground

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex return to shortest-format action in Chelmsford from Sunday 02 June.

Demand remains exceptionally high, and there are now only 15% of tickets remaining across all seven home fixtures, with two already sold out.

With the Eagles aiming to go one better in 2024, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

Sunday 02 June, 4:00pm: Essex v Middlesex – buy here
Friday 07 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Glamorgan – buy here (LAST FEW TICKETS)
Friday 14 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Sussex Sharks – SOLD OUT
Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Hampshire Hawks – buy here
Friday 05 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Somerset – SOLD OUT
Thursday 11 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Kent Spitfires – buy here
Sunday 14 July, 2:30pm: Essex v Surrey – buy here