Bowlers put Somerset on top at Essex
Somerset’s bowling attack, led by Jamie Overton and Jack Leach, underlined why the county sit comfortably on top of the Specsavers County Championship Division One table as they bowled Essex out for 216.
The Somerset pair claimed three wickets each, while there were also two wickets for Lewis Gregory and Tim Groenewald.
Essex’s sole resistance came in the form of Sir Alastair Cook – who scored a patient 80 as the hosts lost nine wickets for 90 runs.
In reply to Essex’s 216, Somerset lost Azhar Ali during their tricky 16-over spell under the floodlights, as the visitors ended the day 184 runs behind.
Essex won the toss and decided to bat on a typical Chelmsford wicket, which at times hinted it would turn later in the match, under blue skies which would cloud over throughout the day.
Both sides observed a minute’s silence before play started and wore black armbands in tribute to Somerset Chairman, Charles Clark who who sadly passed away on Friday.
Cook and Nick Browne had a fluctuating period against the new ball, as the latter struck three boundaries in consecutive balls before a period of 27 dots.
The opening stand reached exactly 50, in the 13th over, before Browne shouldered his arms to Overton’s fourth delivery – which beautifully extracted his off stump.
Cook continued in his standard choppy style as he passed a half-century for the 175th time in his First Class career, in 99 deliveries. He shared a 76-run partnership with Tom Westley for the second wicket before Westley fell for 36 after edging behind when he was beaten for pace and bounce by the impressive Overton. This sparked regular wickets to fall through the rest of the afternoon.
Dan Lawrence was lbw to the in-form Gregory and then Ravi Bopara survived a nick to third slip before spooning a pull to mid-on.
Ryan ten Doeschate was dismissed leg before for the fifth time in nine Championship innings this season when Overton, who ended with three for 43, found him falling over an in-swinger.
Cook had dropped anchor as he added 30 runs in 87 balls following his bat raise but the former England captain failed to capitalise as he fell when looping a bat and pad catch to Overton, who had been stationed at second slip, at gully. Groenewald was the bowler to celebrate the prize scalp.
Adam Wheater and Simon Harmer chipped in with 21 and 15 respectively to provide some lower-middle order respite before both edged behind, the former off Groenewald and the latter to Jack Leach, his 200th Championship wicket.
Having helped Essex to a batting point, Peter Siddle was lbw to Leach and Jamie Porter edged behind as the increasingly potent spinner took three for 30 to bowl out the hosts for 216.
In overcast conditions, Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali departed when he edged Porter behind for eight.
However, skipper Tom Abell guided Somerset to stumps, alongside nightwatchman Groenewald, on 32 for one.
After his impressive performance with the ball, Jamie Overton said: “It was coming out lovely today. I feel like I’ve been in some good rhythm in the last month or so. I try to bowl fuller nowadays and hit the stumps as much as I can and it seems to be swinging a lot at the moment.
“We didn’t bowl to our best before lunch and bowled a fraction short at times. We knew we weren’t at the races.
“Cook batted nicely again, you know what you are going to get from him and he’s always going to be there or thereabouts. He is one of the hard guys to get out.
“We’d have taken 216 when they were 129 for one. To come back like that and keep them under 250 was an unbelievable effort.
“You would think that if it spins on day one, then it’ll spin throughout. That’s why our first batting innings is crucial. We’ll want to get a batting lead of 150 because that will make it harder for Essex. Then hopefully we won’t have to chase too many in the last innings.”
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