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Somerset fight hard after Browne double-century

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Nick Browne scored the fourth LV= Insurance County Championship double century of his career as Essex racked up 505 before Somerset fought back on day two.

Tom Lammonby collected three for 35 for his personal best figures and Peter Siddle claimed his 700th first-class wicket as the visitors plugged a good line and length throughout the day.

In reply, Simon Harmer pinched his 45th wicket of the season as Somerset reached 99 for one at quite a tempo, ending the day 406 runs in arrears.

Somerset’s inroads were as equally hard to come by as on the first day, but the decision to throw the ball to Lammonby in the 114th over was inspired. The left-arm pace bowler had six wickets ahead of the game, but within four overs had added two more scalps.

Paul Walter’s 172 partnership with Browne ended first when he lost his off stump for 86 before Matt Critchley followed when he couldn’t resist prodding behind.

Adam Rossington arrived, pumped 32 off 40 balls, added 72 with the unmovable Browne and slog-swept to deep midwicket, giving Lammonby his third.

Simon Harmer didn’t continue the acceleration, sitting on seven off 49 balls at one point in the afternoon where the scoreboard felt like it had frozen – a period where 15 overs passed without a boundary.

Meanwhile, Browne had taken himself past 200 in 417 balls. He had previously celebrated double centuries against Middlesex and twice versus Derbyshire. By way of reference, Alastair Cook has never reached the milestone for Essex, although the legendary Graham Gooch managed it 10 times.

Incredibly Browne eventually faced 454 balls, which was four more than Sam Northeast dealt with in his incredible 410 for Glamorgan against Leicestershire last week.

Harmer did pick up his pace against the Somerset spinners, thrice swiping them to the midwicket boundary, before slogging to long off to depart. Shane Snater and Aaron Beard both showed attacking intent and both fell to maximum attempts before the declaration came.

Other than a dropped catch behind in the first over, Somerset openers Matt Renshaw and Lammonby tottered around nicely to score 40 in the first nine overs before Harmer arrived on the scene from his favourite River End.

Where Leach had gone wicketless in 39 overs, Harmer needed only four balls to bowl Lammonby. The off-spinner had laid a seed of panic with his first delivery which sharply turned but the fourth was fuller and Lammonby fatally went back and chopped onto his stumps.

It turned out to be a false dawn for the hosts, Renshaw and Tom Abell continued the quick scoring with a 59-run stand in the 27 evening overs.

Essex batter Nick Browne:

“I am chuffed, it hasn’t quite properly sunk in yet. To almost bat out the day was really pleasing and to set us up for a good position to hopefully take the remaining 19 wickets.

“You get so many low scores as an opening bat that when you do get in you have to be greedy and make sure you cash in. When I do get to a hundred I always make sure it is a big hundred and not just a hundred because the next innings you can easily get out for nought.

“I think staying in the same gear is key to it. You go through little periods of a bit more aggression or if you lose wickets at the other end you have to get back in your bubble a bit more. It kind of happened like that today where we lost a few wickets and I felt ‘I can’t get out now’.

“[On having more double centuries for Essex than Alastair Cook] I said to Alastair he can have one of mine.

“We would have liked to have scored a little bit quicker but they bowled pretty well in the morning which stunted our growth to kick on the innings. It was hard to kick on the scoreboard without taking risks. All in all, when you get 500 you have to be happy.

“I think we can still in from here. It looks like it is spinning and we created a few chances with the new ball. If you have Simon Harmer in your team you can win from any position.”

Somerset opening batter-come-all-rounder Matt Renshaw:

“This evening was a really important time in the match and the way Tom Abell and Lammonby came out and played their attack was really good. There is obviously that voodoo of Simon Harmer that everyone mentions but having a plan and sticking to it was the right way.

“There were a few balls that spun there but the danger one for me is the one that doesn’t turn. If I get a ball in my area to score runs I will, the main thing is looking to keep scoring runs off him.

“I think it is becoming more helpful for spin. There are a few footmarks forming as you’d expect at the end of day two, but it probably isn’t breaking up as much as we were expecting.

“We’ve already knocked down 99 of them. It is still a nice wicket to bat on if you apply yourself and get yourself in. We’ll go out there tomorrow morning to just bat.

“I felt like we bowled really tight. The bowlers did a really tremendous job on that wicket.

“I really enjoyed how Jack Leach bowled. I know he went for none for a hundred but to bowl 39 overs into the wind to the short side was a testament to him and his skills. I was pleased how he bowled even if he didn’t get the wickets people might say he needed to.

“Sometimes people play a bad shot or make a mistake but unfortunately it wasn’t Leachy’s day.”

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