Essex on verge of winning County Championship after rain washes out day three at Taunton

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

Author 2019-09-25 20:46:00


Essex will win their eighth County Championship barring an incredible final day of this season in which Somerset will have to bowl Essex out twice, and very cheaply. The pitch has been turning but not that much.

A sodden outfield, topped up by showers, prevented any play on day three and slowly killed off any lingering Somerset hopes of their first ever championship. Instead they appear destined to finish runners-up for the sixth time in this century.

Somerset have yet to dismiss Sir Alastair Cook once, let alone twice, as Essex have reached 25 without loss in reply to Somerset's 203. Free from Test calls, Cook leads the stronger batting line-up which Essex have, in addition to the leading wicket-taker in the first division, Simon Harmer with 83 wickets - much the same formula that won Essex their last championship in 2017.

Somerset's batting line-up is more like England's in that sometimes it could be reversed, at least when Jack Leach is promoted from number eleven to nightwatchman or opener. Their bowlers have had to do much of their batting as well as the bowling.

"I have total belief in our players and staff,” Somerset’s director of cricket Andy Hurry said optimistically. “This summer there has been some amazing cricket, with huge twists and turns. Anything can happen and we have to keep believing.”

imgCredit: Alex Davidson/Getty Image

In the only first division game to have play, Surrey's Ollie Pope celebrated his recall to the England Test squad by completing his eighth championship century, 106, in a third-wicket stand of 222 with Scott Borthwick, who reached 137 against relegated Nottinghamshire.

The difference in the quality of bowling in the two divisions was emphasised when Dawid Malan and Billy Godleman both reached 1000 runs for this season in the second division, during Middlesex's match against Derbyshire, making six batsmen in all. Dominic Sibley is alone in scoring 1000 runs in the first division - although Cook will join him if he reaches 165 against Somerset.

As Glamorgan's chances of a victory have been washed away at Durham, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire need not force their game at Bristol in order to accompany Lancashire into the first division, which will have ten counties next season, while the second - or sink - division will have eight.



Play has been abandoned for the day. Essex will be crowned county champions tomorrow.


News on another inspection

Not until 4.30pm, sadly. Sadly Somerset, this one's for you:


Covers coming off

Trouble (and dark clouds) over Bridgwater. Inspection imminent at 3.20pm.


Tea at 3pm


Inspection is underway

Oysterish skies above Taunton. Couple of damp areas around the square.

imgCredit: Sky Sports

And now the umpires have put their umbrellas up again. Exasperation for the nation. With version.


Too wet to start soon

Further inspection scheduled for 2.30pm.


Maybe next year ...


The rain has stopped

And the covers are coming off. A lot of mopping up to do, however, before the umpires can even inspect. It was a particularly heavy shower.


(Do not) abandon all hope

Once it stops raining, it will take them about 90 mins to mop up so we should be able to salvage some play but won't be enough unless Somerset can knock over Essex in about 40 overs then have a thrash. Tomorrow's forecast is for sunshine for two-thirds of the day.

A couple of overs from Overton and Gregory and let the three spinners go to work ...

imgCredit: Met office

Lunch will be taken at 12.40pm while the rain still falls.


Essex on course


I'm afraid it's raining again

September 25. Who would have thought it?


A view from the Essex dressing room


And the umpires have decided ...

To have a further look at noon ... the outfield is still too treacherous, sadly.


Simon Harmer wreaks havoc


Gordon Withnall's babies are at work


Good morning

Brighter weather forecast at Taunton today with only a 10 per cent chance of rain for most of the morning and afternoon. Heavy overnight rain means play cannot start on schedule but there is an inspection at 11am and hopefully, given how quickly the groundstaff managed to make outfield fit for play yesterday, we should manage to squeeze more overs in today.

Here are Scyld Berry's views on where the two teams stand after two days:

Provided Essex do not lose 20 wickets in the next two days, they will become county champions for the eighth time - an admirable feat considering they did not win their first championship until 1979 - while Somerset will retain their title of perennial bridesmaids.

Somerset were fortunate to squeeze 44.5 overs into day two of their must-win match while most of the country was washed out, and their own specially prepared turning pitch is working in their favour. But Sir Alastair Cook is not.

Without the stimulus of international cricket, Cook has not had a vintage season but is Essex’s leading run-scorer - 835 so far at 43 - and he can still sense a challenge when he sees one; and there it was after Somerset had briskly cobbled together a working total of 203.

You can read his full report by clicking here.


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