Somerset suffer first Championship defeat of the season

Somerset suffered their first defeat of the 2019 Specsavers County Championship season against Essex at Chelmsford today.

Fast bowler Jamie Porter followed up his five for 51 in the first innings with four for 22 as the visitors were bowled out for 117 to lose by 151 runs.

Somerset had arrived at Chelmsford with a 30-point advantage at the summit of Division One and despite this defeat the team from the South West still have a 13-point lead.

The Somerset bowlers made short work of the Essex tail this morning and were set 269 runs to win.

Porter pounced with the second ball of each of his first two overs. Firstly, Tom Abell drilled back to the bowler before Azhar Ali edged to Tom Westley at third slip.

James Hildreth and Tom Banton attempted to counter-attack in the hope of ticking down the runs quicker, with the latter hooking a six off Aaron Beard. However, the introduction of Simon Harmer brought about the end of a 31-run stand with the last delivery of his primary over as Banton flicked to a stooping Nick Browne at short mid-wicket.

Hildreth (32) then departed on the stroke of lunch when his attempted upper-cut flicked behind to Adam Wheater.

After the interval Steven Davies was caught on the crease as he edged Harmer to Alastair Cook at first slip. George Bartlett was well caught by Dan Lawrence at gully before Jamie Overton mimicked his first innings dismissal by picking out Browne on the square-leg boundary with Somerset on 73 for seven.

In form Lewis Gregory provided a punchy antidote to the slide with four maximums off Harmer, including three in a row, all over various degrees of mid-wicket. However, having reached 40 from 35 balls, he was bowled by Beard.

Beard then wrapped up the victory by accounting for Tim Groenewald and Jack Brooks.

Earlier, Essex’s second innings was wrapped up in just 9.5 overs this morning as Tim Groenewald claimed the 16th five-wicket haul in First-Class cricket.

Groenewald followed up his three wickets the previous evening by collapsing Simon Harmer’s off-stump with his second ball of the morning. He thought he had Peter Siddle later in the same over, as the Australian edged to Jamie Overton at second slip, but the two umpires convened to agree the ball hadn’t carried, much to the ire of Somerset.

They needn’t have worried as Gregory had Siddle and Adam Wheater caught in the slips soon after before Groenewald wrapped up the innings when Porter nicked to second slip.

After the match Somerset Captain, Tom Abell said: “We were completely outplayed this week and didn’t deserve anything from the game. We’ve got a few shortcomings with the bat at the moment, which we need to address before the next game.

“It is no means the end of the world. We are still in a great position and have been playing great cricket in the Championship. We weren’t good enough this week but we will be back next week for Hampshire.

“Alastair Cook score 130 runs and in the context of the match that was massive. We couldn’t quite do that with that bat. Some of us got in in the first innings, but couldn’t take it on when we needed to. We lost wickets in clusters again and that is hurting us at the moment.

“Our form has been really good throughout the competition and there will always be periods when you don’t play at your best. There have been times when we haven’t been at our best but we have shown fight and character to wrestle back the momentum in games. We didn’t do that this week.

“Next week is massive for us. We need to get back to winning ways. We need to be on the ball and I’m confident we will be.”