Essex 216 all out (Cook 80, Leach 3-30, J Overton 3-43) & 164-6 (Cook 47, Groenewald 3-39) lead Somerset 131 all out (Abell 36, Porter 5-51, Beard 4-23) by 249 runs with 4 wickets remaining.
Somerset’s bowlers bowled valiantly to get their side back on track on day two of the Specsavers County Championship Division One game at Chelmsford after the visitors had been bundled out for just 131 earlier in the day.
The league leaders started what would be a rain-affected morning on the second day on 32-1 with skipper Tom Abell and nightwatchman Tim Groenewald looking comfortable enough, and they took the score past 50 when the captain fell lbw to Jamie Porter for 36. Unfortunately for his team this would be the highest individual score in this innings.
Then Aaron Beard – celebrating signing a new four-year deal at Essex – took four Somerset wickets in just 13 balls as they slipped from 63-2 to 74-6 in the 33rd over.
It looked like Somerset may struggle to make three figures at this point but George Bartlett (25) and Lewis Gregory (14) both made starts to offer some hope but Porter took three more late wickets as Somerset slipped to 131, giving Essex a first innings lead of 85.
Whilst the home team bowling was tidy it has to be said some of the Somerset batting left little to be desired with some very poor shot selection.
Essex once again started brightly with the bat with Nick Browne (29), Tom Westley (12) and Dan Lawrence (21) helping the score past 100. Groenewald removed Alastair Cook for 47 with the score on 125 and it looked a lot brighter for Somerset. But the home team finished the day 164-6 with a lead of 249 and four wickets still in the bag.
The bowlers huffed and puffed for Somerset. The great thing about this team are the options available and someone can always come in and do a job when needed. In this case, Tim Groenewald – who probably only played because of an injury to Craig Overton, and ultimately dismissed Cook in each innings – and Jamie Overton both kept their focus to their credit.
Groenewald was defiant after the game, saying: “We found it tricky this morning and they bowled well. They used the heavy roller just before they batted for the second time, so that might have taken a bit out the wicket. It definitely seemed to do more when they bowled.
“We were 50 for one and then 60 for five. If you bowl in the right area it is difficult to get going when you are new to the crease.”
For Somerset to win this game from this position wickets will be needed very early on day 3. Essex have won all three of their previous games on this ground this season and only once has an innings passed 300, when the home side scored 313 against Kent on May 30. In their previous game at Chelmsford last week Essex beat Hampshire by an innings and 8 runs despite scoring only 214 themselves!
But this Somerset team has adopted a never-say-die attitude and you can be sure they will give it all they have to continue this highly-impressive start to the Championship campaign. You only have to look at the Kent game two weeks back to realise that.