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Re: The Only Way is Through Essex 2 50
Posted by: Farmer White
Date: 15/05/2017 21:55
Sorry to change the subject back but here is my take on the Essex 50 over match.

Somerset came up against the prevailing wind on Sunday. Not the one from the West that usually governs these parts and leaves the trunk of the small tree in my front garden with a permanent Eastward list. In this match the stronger wind blew from the East, all the way from Essex, with a powerful unceasing force. Somerset stood hard against it at times but somehow did not seem to be quite on top of their game and, in the end, were blown away.

Essex played with unremitting force throughout and it will take a team capable of applying greater force throughout, and it will have to be throughout, a game to overcome them in this competition. How Glamorgan managed to beat them, for no-one else has, is a mystery. It seemed at the time as if Essex folded under the pressure of the chase. It seems unlikely they will allow that to happen again. And they may have come back even stronger. Middlesex were despatched by 7 wickets in the next game and, in the end, Somerset wilted in the gale yesterday.

After a near faultless fielding performance at Bristol Somerset were, to a startled crowd not used to profligacy in the field, well off the pace at the start of the Essex innings. In the first dozen or so overs the ball went through hands as if it was coated in the best organic butter more times than I suspect it has all season. It perhaps gifted Essex twenty or so runs. There had been a lot of overnight rain. Perhaps the ball came off the grass a little greasy but if it did there was not enough getting the body behind the ball in the old-fashioned way. Whatever the reason, and it may have nothing to do with a greasy ball, it cost Somerset dear.

Tim Groenewald’s, I imagine unprecedented for him, four wides in the first over and 26 runs off his first three added to Essex’s advantage. Unless they expected some early life, which did not materialise, Somerset must have expected to chase upwards of 300 on this flattest of pitches when they chose to field. At the end of the twelfth over Essex had breezed along to 79-1, the immediate pressure was off, and the straws in the wind were of a total upwards of 350. A pity when a good ball from Craig Overton, had pinned Chopra early.

In the next 10 overs 61 more were added mainly against some Somerset persistence from Waller and Allenby and a fast improving fielding performance. Only three fours and a six as Essex minimised risk. In current 50 over cricket 6 an over is not storming along but with the pressure taken off from the start Essex were perhaps freed up to push an extra run an over above the norm for this stage of an innings in spite of Somerset’s improving fielding and bowling. 140-1 from 22 with the modern rule of thumb to estimate a 50 over total with wickets in hand being to double the 30 over score. 380 was the darkening storm cloud threatening Somerset’s horizon.

Enter Jamie Overton after another 11 runs in the 23rd over to bowl with pace and control to tempt Cook to waft a wide fast last ball through to Davies. Cook 65. Essex 156-2. Now Somerset really put their faces into the wind and the bowlers, van de Merwe, both Overtons, a returning and more familiarly accurate Groenewald and the fielders, now fully back on song, started to constrain Essex. 12 overs for 55 runs with only three boundaries. 182-2 in the 30th. 209-2 in the 36th. A spirited comeback by Somerset but a tremendous base for the final assault although not quite in range of the huge total that might have been.

Somerset’s application of pressure after the fall of Cook eventually told. Van de Merwe bowled Westley for 100 and ten Doeschate for 3 in successive overs. 215-4 in the 38th. The game, if not exactly back in the balance, was less uneven than it had been. Essex though steadied themselves, perhaps remembering Cardiff, and responded to pressure with pressure in the form of Bopara and Zaidi. 39 runs in the first 5 overs of their partnership and 42 in the second 4. 297-4 off 47. Somerset still clung on and two wickets in the 48th, Zaidi to a stunning, swooping Walleresque boundary catch from Hose and Foster to a sharp run out momentarily raised hopes of finally slowing the Essex charge. Perhaps they might be held to 320. Then the West Country prevailing wind blew in a shower from over the flats and delayed play for 15 minutes. Somerset bowl their overs at such a speed these days that there was time for Essex to regroup and for the final two overs before the cut off time from which they hit 27. 334-6. Perhaps 40 less than Essex might have hoped for before Cook was out and perhaps 40 more than Somerset would have hoped for when they put them in.

Somerset showed no signs of being cowed. They started their innings by puncturing the unrelenting Essex storm with a tornado of their own. Johannes Myburg, the almost forgotten man among Somerset’s batsmen, having popped one straight to mid-on in the first over and being inexplicably dropped by Walter, suddenly let loose a flashing bat with such speed, ferocity and frequency that, had it had a sharp edge, it could have cleared Essex of more trees than the Great Storm of 1987. Eventually and inevitably he miss-hit a vicious pull which climbed steeply towards and way above the height of the flats. Even so he might just have survived with another 6 had the ball not been hit full in the face by that home wind which roared from over the flats. As it was, the ball fell away to Chopra three or four yards inside the boundary. Myburg had hit six 4s, four 6s and 57 in total from the last 23 balls of his innings having hit none off the first 5. 64-1 in 6.3 overs, the original required rate of 6.7 reduced to 6.2 and the target from 335 to 272. Myburg had undone the damage of the first dozen overs of the match.

Now, the two teams were eye ball to eye ball, both in with a chance. Somerset needed 6.2 an over. Over the next 15 overs they kept going, face to that persevering Essex wind, scoring at 5.5 an over in the face of tight bowling, the required rate still only 6.6 an over. But Trego, Davies and Hildreth, the experienced heart of the top order, had fallen away in the attempt to keep the score moving. Somerset were still just in the game but the unremitting pressure from Essex was now beginning to tell. 149-4 and still 186 needed.

Now Allenby, who had pushed and occasionally hit his way past 50, and Hose tried to make headway against Bopara, ten Doeschate and Zaidi. Hose in particular strained to increase the run rate but after another 10 overs they had barely managed 5 an over and the required rate was approaching 8. Still at 202-4 in the 33rd another 133 in 16 overs was a far from impossible hope in today’s one day cricket.

Then, as Somerset were trying to gauge when to unleash their charge Essex unleashed the whirlwind run up of Wagner and the silky-smooth one of Harmer. Somerset could not withstand the wind that blew then as four wickets fell in 6 overs for 28 runs and apart from a final flurry from Craig Overton and Tim Groenewald the innings subsided.

Somerset’s batsmen had kept going throughout. They were ahead of Essex in runs scored at the end of the 10th, 20th, 30th, and 40th overs. It was the wickets that fell away. The respective scores in ten over blocks were:

10 overs: Essex 73-1 Somerset 82-2. 20 overs: Essex 126-1 Somerset 142-3. 30 overs Essex: 182-2 Somerset 187-4. 40 overs Essex 229-4 Somerset 231-8. It was Cardiff in reverse.

If Essex continue to play like this Somerset will probably have to beat them if they want to win this competition. They will have to play with the unremitting determination and application that Essex showed here and which Somerset showed at Cardiff and Bristol. Even if they do they will be met with the same from Essex and the match will go to the team that can outlast the other and which blinks last. The preparation needed will be more than hard cricket skills practice. The team will need to go into the match as mentally tough as the East wind that blew across Taunton on Sunday.

And a final observation. The scoreboard operated to perfection as in the Hampshire match. Dorian Gray lives.

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