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Jack bowls Somerset to victory

Jack Leach returned career-best figures of eight for 85 as Somerset maintained their challenge for a first ever Specsavers County Championship title with a 45-run win over Essex at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

The left-arm spinner boosted his hopes of returning to the England side with a masterly display from the River End.

Chasing a daunting 336 to win, Essex looked well placed at 256 for four with Nick Browne having contributed 86 and Tom Westley 56. However, when Ryan ten Doeschate fell to Leach for 50 the match swung Somerset’s way.

Leach bowled unchanged throughout the day, sending down 32 of his 48 overs in the innings and beating the bat on numerous occasions, as well as collecting the wickets that bettered his previous best First Class figures of seven for 106.

Somerset took 22 points from a riveting game of county cricket, while Essex had to be content with three.

Essex started the day on 147 for one, needing a further 189. Browne and Westley began cautiously and had added 24 without alarm when Browne top-edged an attempting sweep off Leach to be caught by Jamie Overton running from slip to leg-slip.

Overton then pinned Westley, who had reached a 117-ball half-century, leg-before to give Somerset a further boost with the score still on 171.

Dan Lawrence batted sensibly with ten Doeschate, but fell on the stroke of lunch for 21 to a fine arm-ball from Leach, which skidded through his defence and bowled him.

It was 225 for four at the interval, with ten Doeschate unbeaten on 31. He was joined by Ravi Bopara and together they frustrated the home attack, adding 31 meticulously. The Essex captain was then beaten and bowled by a sharply turning ball from Leach shortly after reaching an impressive 72-ball half-century.

The visitors still required 80 and it was compelling cricket as Bopara fought to keep his side’s hopes alive. Adam Wheater fell caught and bowled by Leach off a leading edge before Somerset made the key breakthrough.

Bopara could barely believe it when bowled by Leach off an inside edge, stepping back to cut a short ball. He had made a valiant 27, but the target was still 55 runs away.

It looked out of reach when Simon Harmer fell to Dom Bess, caught off bat and pad at short-leg to give the off-spinner his first wicket. So it proved as Peter Siddle was well caught by Overton at slip attempting to slog Leach over the short leg-side boundary with 49 still required.

Leach’s one-man show ended when Jamie Porter departed lbw pushing forward, sparking wild celebrations among the Somerset fielders at winning a game they seemed to have let slip the previous evening.

After a dramatic day Somerset Captain Tom Abell said: “Full credit to Jack who put in a phenomenal effort and bowled a mammoth spell today to end with eight wickets.

“As a team I thought that we were outstanding today because yesterday afternoon we let Essex get into a decent position. However, we still felt that we were in the game and we know the quality of our bowling attack, who have been brilliant for the last couple of years and they delivered again today.

“Leachy takes all the credit and rightly so, but the way that the other guys bowled was good too because we asked them to be really dry and they helped us to create opportunities.

“This was another really great win and it’s a special team to be a part of right now. We are playing good cricket and this was another good day for us today.

“This was an incredible game of cricket and sometimes it’s a shame that there has to be a winner, but I’m glad that we came out on the right side!”

Eight wicket hero Jack Leach said: “During the days when I was injured I kept telling myself there was a lot of Championship cricket still to be played. Now I can’t wait for the remaining games.  I needed to be patient on that pitch to get my rewards. Being injured teaches you to be patient and that probably helped when I needed to show the same quality with my bowling today.”

For the match scorecard please click here

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Next MatchSomerset V Derbyshire Falcons

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