Byrom the standout on even first day

Eddie Byrom collected his first half-century of the season as Somerset made a solid start in their Bob Willis Trophy final against Essex.

Batsman Byrom, whose previous best in the competition was 30, had helped Somerset fightback from 52 for three to reach 119 for four at close on day one.

Fast bowler Sam Cook did the early damage with the ball with two wickets, including the 100th of his first-class career, as Aaron Beard and Jamie Porter also snatched a scalp each at Lord’s.

Heavy grey clouds met the South and Central Group winners for the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy final, a day after autumn officially began.

Those conditions persuaded Essex captain Tom Westley to bowl first having won the toss.

Nick Browne was returned to the Essex line-up, in place of Feroze Khushi, while Somerset elected to leave out Dom Bess and Roelof van der Merwe, with Jack Leach their sole spin option.

Before a ball was bowled, both sets of players, support staff and umpires took a knee to recognise the need for racial equality.

Without a run on the board, Cook made the early breakthrough with the ninth ball of the morning.

The 23-year-old pinned Tom Lammonby, who had scored 343 runs in the group stages, as the batsman attempted to whip a full delivery through midwicket.

It handed Cook his century of first-class wickets in only his 34th appearance.

Somerset’s poor start was compounded when Tom Abell and Ben Green fell in quick succession to leave them 52 for three.

Captain Abell attempted to pull Aaron Beard but could only strike into his hip and loop behind – where Adam Wheater made up good ground before pulling off an impressive diving catch.

Opener Green was equally unlucky as he was on the receiving end of a peach from Cook, although an inside edge helped the ball find the top of off-stump.

Cook eventually ending the day with figures of two for 38.

Somerset rebuilt slight before lunch, mainly through the pre-lunch free-flowing bat of Byrom – with every run loudly applauded from head coach Jason Kerr and his staff at the bottom of the iconic pavilion.

The Zimbabwean born batsman stroked three sumptuous boundaries off Beard – through mid-off, midwicket and the covers.

Rain over lunch meant the afternoon’s session was delayed, with 13 overs lost.

Once play resumed at 2.35pm, Byrom and George Bartlett, who put on 42 together, found themselves stuck on 94 – as Cook and Porter sent down 37 dot balls in an accurate spell.

The 28th of those dots accounted for Bartlett, as Porter played on his impatience by dragging him just outside his off stump, where his drive nicked into Sir Alastair Cook’s hands at first slip.

Steven Davies ended the spell in neutral by taking his side off 94 with a leading-edge boundary through gully.

After 45 minutes, the covers were again brought out as showers saw almost two hours wiped out, before both sides returned to the field for 14.1 overs at just after 5pm.

Only 19 of those balls were able to be bowled before the precipitation returned, although there was time for Byrom to reach fifty.

With his ninth four he caressed a straight drive down the ground for his fifth first-class 50 – which came in 82 balls – and will return in the morning on 51.

Ben Green praised Somerset batsman Eddie Byrom for the way he fought back to leave Essex and Somerset even after day one of the Bob Willis Trophy final.

Zimbabwean born Byrom collected his first half-century of the season, ending the day unbeaten on 51, to help his side recover from 52 for three to reach 119 for four having been asked to bat.

Opening batsman Green said: “We are a pretty young batting line up and to see Eddie stand up and do a job for us helped wrestle the momentum Essex had in the game back to us.

“I have spent a lot of time with Eddie and he is always searching for little things to change with his batting technique. He is in a good place mentality at the moment and is watching the ball at the moment and that is benefiting him.

“We would have had a look to bowl first as well but it wasn’t heart-in-mouths that we were going to collapse. We knew it would be a challenging morning session and Essex bowled pretty well and disciplined.

“The game is quite in the balance at the moment. Tomorrow morning is a big session for both sides. But we have ended up with Eddie getting fifty which is a serious contribution on a day like today.”

The showpiece event is being played behind-closed-doors due to Covid restrictions but due to a season of empty grounds, Green insists Somerset are not fazed.

“When you walk out to bat and see the Lord’s pavilion it is a great feeling,” Green said.

“Under different circumstances, it might be different playing in front of empty stands, but we have done it all season and become accustomed to it now.”

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