By­rom pro­duces sea­son’s best to steady Som­er­set young­sters

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport / Cricket - By Scyld Berry at Lord’s

In late Septem­ber, at last, the sound of a pro­fes­sional bat on a red ball was heard at Lord’s again in the Bob Wil­lis Tro­phy fi­nal, if only for 44 overs dur­ing which Som­er­set, sent in by Es­sex, scored 119 for four.

As this fi­nal has to be staged be­hind closed doors – and with ren­o­va­tion work at cricket’s head­quar­ters so that new stands can re­place those named af­ter Bill Edrich and De­nis Comp­ton – the hum pe­cu­liar to Lord’s was ab­sent, but not the clank of gird­ers and bleep of ve­hi­cles re­vers­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately the all-too-fa­mil­iar pat­ter of rain on the old pav­il­ion roof brought play to an end with Es­sex on top but Som­er­set still in it.

The pitch, so far, has been a slow turner with some­thing for all the bowlers, so the first county first­class fi­nal looks as though it will not be a high-scor­ing af­fair, un­less Sir Alas­tair Cook digs in for a couple of days.

Bob Wil­lis him­self might have been con­tent with an open­ing spell, and a pointed, even caus­tic re­mark about the lack of carry.

At 10.29, af­ter a minute’s si­lence, the play­ers on the field and the boundary edge took a knee. No non­white player was in­volved. Som­er­set’s long as­so­ci­a­tion with West In­dian cricket, which be­gan be­fore the Sec­ond World War and fea­tured such greats as Sir Vi­vian Richards, Joel Garner and Chris Gayle, has ended. Es­sex omit­ted their 21 yearold mid­dle-or­der bats­man Feroze Khushi in favour of an es­tab­lished opener in Nic Browne.

At 10.30 Som­er­set would prob­a­bly have ac­cepted a lunch score of 90 for three, and that at close of play. It was not so much the pitch that pro­vided the threat as “the over­heads” of thick cloud and the poor light.

Such a young bat­ting line-up as theirs, with Tom Abell their el­dest spe­cial­ist aged 26, could have been rolled over but, thanks to Ed By­rom’s un­beaten 51, they are still afloat. If they can hack out a first in­nings of 250, Som­er­set might even hold the up­per hand against the county cham­pi­ons, given the strength of their pace bowl­ing.

It is al­ready By­rom’s high­est score this sea­son and was much needed af­ter Som­er­set had fallen to 52 for 3.

He hit nine fours in an 85-ball knock, and the best of it came when he chal­lenged Es­sex’s supremacy with four fours in the last two overs be­fore lunch, even dar­ing to hit one off Si­mon Harmer who had man­aged to find some turn.

Adam Wheater, the wick­et­keeper, held a spec­tac­u­lar catch af­ter Abell’s glance be­hind looped slightly off his thigh pad.

Full stretch: Es­sex wick­et­keeper Adam Wheater plunges to take a spec­tac­u­lar catch to dis­miss Som­er­set’s Tom Abell at Lord’s

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