By­rom class lifts Som­er­set be­fore Es­sex fight back

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Bob Wil­lis Tro­phy fi­nal By Scyld Berry at Lord’s

With three days to go, the Bob Wil­lis Tro­phy fi­nal is wide open, af­ter Som­er­set posted a work­ing to­tal of 301.

If there is more of the cold rain which has re­placed the au­tumn sun­shine and blighted the first two days, so that the game ends in a draw, the win­ners will be the county that takes the first-in­nings lead.

Ed­die By­rom held Som­er­set to­gether with his third first-class cen­tury, and a fine one it was, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing he had not passed 30 in the five qual­i­fy­ing rounds. It was un­doubt­edly the finest hun­dred ever made by a left-handed Zim­bab­wean ve­gan in his maiden in­nings at Lord’s.

In­stead of be­ing con­strained by the knowl­edge that Som­er­set have never won the cham­pi­onship, and by the rep­u­ta­tion of Es­sex’s lead­ing wicket-taker Si­mon Harmer, By­rom bat­ted like a fear­less youth, al­though he is 23 and there­fore one of Som­er­set’s older bats­men.

In the No4 po­si­tion, he re­placed their only se­nior bats­man James Hil­dreth, who was in­jured, hav­ing torn a ham­string when called for a T20 run – by By­rom.

He could hardly have done more to make amends.

“I’ve only been here [Lord’s] once be­fore to watch the Som­er­set one­day team bring home the tro­phy last year,” said By­rom, who has an Ir­ish pass­port (his fa­ther was a sports jour­nal­ist in Zim­babwe) and who moved to Eng­land at 16. “Zim­babwe’s a bit of a mess now, and I’ve com­mit­ted to play­ing for Som­er­set and want­ing to play for Eng­land, so that’s def­i­nitely my am­bi­tion.”

The best parts of By­rom’s in­nings were his straight drives which, lead­ing el­bow high, brought up his 50 on day one and his hun­dred on day two, and his re­fusal to let Harmer slowly suf­fo­cate Som­er­set.

The in­flu­ence of Mar­cus Trescoth­ick, Som­er­set’s bat­ting coach, was ev­i­dent when By­rom clipped

Lord­ing it: Ed­die By­rom marks his cen­tury

Harmer through mid­wicket, and swept him, be­fore Harmer cleaned up the last two wick­ets in con­sec­u­tive balls – but too late for Es­sex to be­gin their re­ply as the last three overs were lost to bad light.

By­rom cashed in be­tween the two new balls by shar­ing a stand of 127 with Craig Over­ton, who con­trib­uted a forth­right 66, but his bowl­ing might be even more in­flu­en­tial.

If Alas­tair Cook drops an­chor, on a slow pitch, he re­tains the ap­petite to grind out big scores.

Es­sex’s field­ing was not spry, as they are older than Som­er­set, and their cap­tain Tom West­ley did not post a third man un­til Som­er­set were up and run­ning at 132 for four. But Sam Cook, 23, per­sisted to take five wick­ets.

“I think he’s go­ing to de­velop into a re­ally, re­ally fine bowler,” said their head coach An­thony McGrath. “He’s learn­ing how to swing the ball, and he’s got a bit of growth in him.”

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