County Championship review: Essex start strongly at Somerset

Simon Harmer
Simon Harmer

Essex made a strong start to their bid for a quickfire domestic double before rain got in the way at Taunton. Get the details.

Essex in command

Sam Cook and Simon Harmer struck double blows for Essex before rain washed out play with only 27.5 overs bowled on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship title decider against Somerset at Taunton.

The home side, needing to win to overtake their opponents and claim the pennant for the first time, had progressed to 75 for four after winning the toss on a worn pitch, James Hildreth making 32 and skipper Tom Abell 24 not out.

Seamer Cook had figures of two for five from 8.5 overs, reward for two probing spells from the Somerset Pavilion End, while off-spinner Harmer bowled 10 overs from the River End, turning the ball from the start and taking two for 24.

With the pitch looking certain to favour spin increasingly as the match progressed, it was no surprise when Abell elected to bat first on an overcast morning.

But Somerset's top order have struggled all season and they were soon in trouble again at 14 for two as Cook made early inroads.

His first over saw Murali Vijay, yet to post a significant score since being signed for the hosts' final three Championship games, brilliantly caught by wicketkeeper Adam Wheater low down, diving in front of first slip.

Opening partner Steve Davies departed lbw in Cook's second over, leaving Abell and Hildreth to try and lay the foundation for a decent total.

At 27 for two after eight overs, the floodlights were turned on and Essex introduced Harmer, who immediately found plenty of assistance from both over and around the wicket.

Hildreth's response was typically positive and, with Abell showing sound technique, the pair brought the fifty up as Cook's opening spell ended with figures of two for two from six overs, which included four maidens.

Harmer was causing problems for both batsmen, but Somerset seemed to be recovering from their poor start when the total reached 61 for two in the 21st over.

Then Hildreth, who had hit five fours, played back to a delivery from Harmer, bowling around the wicket, and was trapped lbw by a ball that turned sharply to elude his defensive shot.

Two balls later Tom Banton was beaten and rapped on the pads in front of his stumps to give Harmer, then bowling over the wicket, another success and, at 61 for four, Somerset were back in the mire.

Abell continued to look more at ease that his colleagues. Essex briefly tried spin at both ends, with Aron Nijjar sending down two overs, before Cook returned.

George Bartlett looked more at home against seam than Harmer's turn, but had to battle hard to help Abell chisel out 14 runs before the rain came.

Umpires Rob Bailey and Alex Wharf took the players off at 1215, quickly announcing an early lunch, and what started as light drizzle soon became persistent rain.

At the start of the lunch interval former Somerset chief executive Peter Anderson and president Brian Rose made a special presentation to Marcus Trescothick to mark his 27 years with the club.

The former England opener announced some time ago that he would be retiring at the end of the season. He received a framed collection of photographs to warm applause from an appreciative crowd.

More from the County Championship

Scott Borthwick's second hundred of the Specsavers County Championship season took Surrey to 246 for two against Nottinghamshire on a weather-shortened day at the Kia Oval.

Borthwick was unbeaten on 109 and Ollie Pope hit 78 not as the pair had put on an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 176 when play was abandoned at 4.45pm because of rain, after the players had twice earlier left the field for bad light.

Pope had two narrow escapes - on the day he was selected for England's winter Test tour of New Zealand - when he might have been stumped on 38 and caught low down at mid wicket when 68.

Pope, otherwise, batted fluently to hit nine fours from 126 balls, while Borthwick's 19th first-class hundred came from 224 balls and was a well-judged innings on an easy-paced surface.

Hampshire's chances of finishing third in Division One improved greatly after they bossed the first day against Kent at Canterbury.

When bad light stopped play at 5pm, Hampshire had reached 80 for three after 21 overs having already dismissed the hosts - their closest rivals to collect the £88,000 cheque for finishing third - for 147 inside 44 overs.

Darren Stevens, the evergreen Kent all-rounder, picked up two of the wickets to fall while Harry Podmore had Ian Holland caught in the cordon without scoring, but when bad light intervened the visitors had reduced the first-innings deficit to 67 runs.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore celebrated his 100th first-class innings with his ninth century as Yorkshire dominated Warwickshire on a truncated opening day of the match at Edgbaston.

In two sessions before rain wiped out play after tea, Kohler-Cadmore struck an unbeaten 165 out of his side's excellent foundation of 261 for two.

He added 184 for the second wicket with debutant Tom Loten, a 20-year-old from York, who showed an excellent temperament in making 58 from 155 balls.

Together the pair ensured that Yorkshire emphatically bounced back from their record defeat, by 433 runs, to Kent at Headingley last week.

Northamptonshire's prospects of playing in Division One next season were greatly enhanced following a productive first day against promotion rivals Gloucestershire at Bristol.

Steady afternoon rain caused 66.4 overs to be lost, yet there was still time for second-placed Northamptonshire to reduce their hosts to 80 for six and seize control of the match.

Ben Sanderson took two for 19 to advance his personal tally for the season to 60 wickets.

Ben Charlesworth did his best to keep Gloucestershire's first innings afloat, the teenage all-rounder contributing a defiant 35 not out on a day when conditions militated against batting fluency.

A draw will, in all likelihood, be enough to see both sides promoted ahead of Glamorgan, who must achieve a convincing win at Durham if they are to supplant either in the top three.

BJ Watling hit an unbeaten 83 on his home debut to guide Durham to 197 for six on day one of their Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash against Glamorgan at Emirates Riverside.

Watling was composed throughout the day, displaying a solid technique as he made his half-century in 90 deliveries, with Alex Lees offering support with 45.

Michael Hogan was on point with the ball for the visitors, claiming four for 31, but Watling's innings made it honours even on day one as bad light brought play to an early close.

Half-centuries by Stiaan Van Zyl and Delray Rawlins helped Sussex recover to 150 for five on a rain-shortened first day against Worcestershire at Hove.

Sussex had been 32 for three following an uncontested toss with openers Luke Wells and Tom Haines both dismissed for ducks.

But Van Zyl (56) and Rawlins (58) led the recovery before both departed in an afternoon session cut short by bad light.

Rain arrived shortly afterwards and umpires Jerry Lloyds and Paul Baldwin abandoned play at 4pm with only 50.4 overs possible.

Sam Robson and Dawid Malan hit half-centuries as Middlesex built a solid platform on a truncated first day against Derbyshire at Lord's.

Robson batted fluently for his knock of 93 from 163 balls, sharing a 90-run third-wicket partnership with Malan, who remained undefeated on 51 when bad weather brought proceedings to a premature close.

The Middlesex captain, who has been named in England's T20 squad for their tour of New Zealand, still requires another 16 to pass the landmark of 1,000 County Championship runs for the season.

Seamer Richard Gleeson picked up season's best figures of six for 43 as Lancashire bowled Leicestershire out for just 155.

There were also two wickets for leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, including that of his twin brother Callum, to mark his call-up to England's squads for the Test and T20 series in New Zealand this winter as Lancashire dismissed Leicestershire in just 67.1 overs before closing on two for one.

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