Intriguing first day at the Cooper Associates County Ground

It was an intriguing opening day at the Cooper Associates County Ground as Somerset welcomed Essex in Division One of the Specsavers County Championship.

Somerset were dismissed for 209 and by the close of play the visitors had progressed to 60 for two with the former England Test captain Alastair Cook unbeaten on 39.

Before play began for the day, former Somerset Captain and Director of Cricket Brian Rose made a presentation on behalf of the Club to Marcus Trescothick to mark the start of his 25th season with the County.

Tom Abell won his first toss as Somerset skipper and elected to bat first on a used wicket.  His side looked in decent shape as openers Trescothick and Dean Elgar passed 50 in the 18th over.  However, Cook held on to a smart, diving catch at slip to dismiss Trescothick for 26 off the bowling of Ravi Bopara.  The former England opener had looked in precious little trouble up to that point against an Essex attack led by seamers Jamie Porter and Neil Wagner.

Captain Tom Abell, whose first run was applauded by the 2350 supporters packed in to the Cooper Associates County Ground, perished shortly after, once again caught by Cook at slip off Bopara.  Then, despite a mini revival up to lunch, thanks to Elgar and James Hildreth, who added 54 for the third wicket, Somerset lost five wickets.

Elgar was first to go, stumped by Adam Wheater off the bowling of Ashar Zaidi for 34.  Then, this season’s beneficiary, Hildreth, played one shot too many and was caught on the deep backward square leg boundary by Bopara off the bowling of Porter.  Steve Davies departed shortly after, bowled by off-spinner Simon Harmer for 12, leaving Peter Trego to rescue an increasingly difficult situation.

After losing sixth wicket partner Lewis Gregory at 143 for 6, caught at leg slip by Harmer off the bowling of Neil Wagner, Trego joined forces with Roelof van der Merwe with whom he added 33 for the seventh wicket.  Trego eventually departed for 48 off 85 balls at 188 for 8, leaving Zaidi to send back Jamie Overton for three and Wagner to snare Craig Overton for 10.

Having been forced off, albeit briefly, for bad light, Essex then progressed steadily despite the loss of Nick Browne and then, off the final ball of the day, Tom Westley was dismissed.

After the close of play Peter Trego said: “I think it’s fair to say that the balance of the game has slightly swung in favour of Essex today and Alastair Cook is making life look relatively easy out there, which I don’t think many of us did today.  It’s a sporty wicket and there’s definitely something in it for the bowler and you get rewarded for quality batting.  Alastair’s innings this evening has probably just tipped the tables in Essex favour.”

“The wicket we got off the last ball of the day was a pretty crucial one for us going into tomorrow.  Obviously today wasn’t our ‘A Game’ by any stretch but we are certainly not out of the game and we have a very good history of fighting back, which is something we are going to have to do tomorrow.”

Regarding his own performance Pete said: “I’m pleased but disappointed because when I got in I still had a couple of partners left who were capable.  It was a shame to give it away so close after the break.  I’ve got runs in most of the games pre-season and it was nice to get a few today, but it should have been 70 or 80 for me out there.  I’m pretty disappointed not to have got those extra 30 or 40 runs that would have been really good for us.

“‘It’s still only day one and we are still very much in this game.”

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09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground