Essex on verge of winning County Championship after rain washes out day three at Taunton
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.”Credit: 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.
Another 💯 for @OPope32 🙌— County Championship (@CountyChamp) September 25, 2019
How will he get on back in the @englandcricket squad? pic.twitter.com/hu9mf8oXuV
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
Unbelievable. Now raining again unfortunately. Tea will be taken at 3pm #SOMvESS#WeAreSomersetpic.twitter.com/Amivq3r1Od— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) September 25, 2019
Inspection is underway
Oysterish skies above Taunton. Couple of damp areas around the square.Credit: 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 ...
John and I have been @SomersetCCC supporters for 70 years, and have sat here for two and a half days watching the rain. Second again. #WeAreSomerset#SomvsEsspic.twitter.com/O4xfoCNrj8— Jeffrey Archer (@Jeffrey_Archer) September 25, 2019
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 ...Credit: Met office
Lunch will be taken at 12.40pm while the rain still falls.
Essex on course
UPDATE: 🌧 🌧 #WeAreSomerset#SOMvESSpic.twitter.com/nFOwqdCgOq— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) September 25, 2019
I'm afraid it's raining again
September 25. Who would have thought it?
As for supporters coming into changerooms, unreal to meet @JohnCleese, true @SomersetCCC supporter😁 Pretty sure Q has something lying around to desolve these clouds.#JamesBond#Qpic.twitter.com/yPTHOT94Gy— Roelof van der Merwe (@Roela52) September 25, 2019
A view from the Essex dressing room
"We're looking at it as any other game with two days left and thinking how can we win this match."— Essex Cricket (@EssexCricket) September 25, 2019
🗣️ Anthony McGrath speaks to Essex Cricket TV following Day Two at Taunton.
Full Interview ⤵️⤵️⤵️#SOMvESS
And the umpires have decided ...
To have a further look at noon ... the outfield is still too treacherous, sadly.
Simon Harmer wreaks havoc
🌪 @Simon_Harmer_ is enjoying a remarkable summer— County Championship (@CountyChamp) September 25, 2019
He has four more 5-wicket hauls than anyone else this season pic.twitter.com/cdM0ty3Z74
Gordon Withnall's babies are at work
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.
UPDATE: Inspection at 11am #SOMvESS#WeAreSomersetpic.twitter.com/frWEyYFx8v— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) September 25, 2019
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.