Essex edge past Somerset in County Championship thriller
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Adam Rossington kept his head in a crisis to guide Essex to a nerve-tingling one-wicket LV= County Championship win over Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton.
Needing just 84 for victory, the visitors crashed to 60 for eight before Rossington’s 29 not out saw them to their target by the narrowest of margins.
It was rough justice on Craig Overton, who claimed six for 30 to complete career-best match figures of 13 for 87. He was well supported by Peter Siddle (three for 25) as Somerset’s seamers fought to the last.
Rossington rode his luck with a number of plays and misses on a pitch that proved too much of a test for the batsmen on both sides, but also played some impressive shots as his side claimed 19 points to Somerset’s three.
Essex began the day on three for one, having lost opener Nick Browne at the end of play the previous evening.
After the 11th ball of the day, the scoreboard read four for four.
The first from Overton had seen Alastair Cook edge just short of third slip and take a single.
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The next accounted for nightwatchman Sam Cook, bowled off stump by a delivery that shaped away from him.
Siddle took up the attack from the River End and with his second ball found the edge of Alastair Cook’s bat as he defended off the back foot. Wicketkeeper Steve Davies claimed a straightforward catch.
Worse was to follow for Essex as the fifth delivery of the same over saw Dan Lawrence edge to third slip where Overton took a fine catch, diving to his right.
Tom Westley eased some of the tension in the visiting dressing room by clipping an overpitched delivery from Overton through mid-wicket for four to get off the mark.
Then Matt Critchley launched his score with a boundary through mid-off. But Overton and Siddle were maintaining an exemplary line and length to make scoring difficult.
It seemed the tide had turned when Essex progressed to 27 for four. But in Overton’s sixth over of the morning, Critchley, on 15, drove loosely at wide ball and dragged it onto his stumps.
That completed Overton’s first 10-wicket haul in first-class cricket. Two balls later, he had Westley caught behind for six, pushing forward defensively.
At 28 for six, Essex required a further 56 runs. Adam Wheater flashed a boundary through a vacant fourth slip area to get off the mark.
Overton’s impressive spell ended to deserved applause with four for 15 from nine overs, one of them bowled the previous evening.
Siddle switched ends to replace him and went past the bat on several occasions without finding an edge. Lewis Gregory also bowled without any luck as Wheater and Rossington took Essex past 50.
It was 56 for six when Overton returned from the River End. With one run added, Wheater was pinned lbw with a ball that struck his back pad.
Before Essex could regroup from that blow, Siddle sent back Simon Harmer for a duck, leg-before attempting a front foot defensive shot.
With 24 still needed, the outcome was in the balance. Rossington opted to be positive with some crisp attacking shots.
The scores were level when Shane Snater was caught off a top edge, trying to win the game with pull shot off Overton before a scampered leg bye finally settled a riveting contest.
Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said: “It was an incredible game that could have gone either way at the end.
“Making 80-odd to win might have looked a formality, but we knew it would not be easy on that pitch against a superb Somerset bowling attack.
“The first plan was to get through the first half hour, but in no time we lost three wickets and they kept us under pressure from then on all morning.
“Someone needed to step up and Adam Rossington showed his class and composure to play a magnificent innings.”
Somerset head coach Jason Kerr added: “It was an epic morning and I’m still struggling to catch my breath.
“Craig Overton led the attack brilliantly and Peter Siddle demonstrated what a quality performer he is while being incredibly unlucky. We could love to see Craig demonstrate his talents on the international stage.
“We were anticipating a truer surface. The ball did more than we expected and that made batting a challenge. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we are under-performing with the bat and there is work to be done.”