As Es­sex close in on ti­tle

On this ev­i­dence the ECB li­ai­son of­fi­cer will not de­cide the ti­tle

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Cricket -

What was sus­pi­cious was the low bounce: the ball should not be keep­ing low within 50 overs of the start, as it did here, but noth­ing so far has taken off from the worn brown sur­face to en­dan­ger bats­men. “The pitch has turned from ball one and some have gone through the sur­face,” said Es­sex coach An­thony Mc­grath. But on cur­rent ev­i­dence the cham­pi­onship will not be de­cided by the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board li­ai­son of­fi­cer, Phil Whit­ti­case.

Si­mon Harmer was a hand­ful in tak­ing his sea­son’s ag­gre­gate to 83 un­til a last-wicket stand of 59 put the poor foot­work of Som­er­set’s ear­lier bats­men – ex­cept for Tom Abell – in per­spec­tive. When Roelof van der Merwe de­fended, he played right for­ward, and also thumped four sixes in his 60 off 51 balls.

Nowhere is the gap be­tween tra­di­tional red-ball bats­man and new white-ball hit­ter more ap­par­ent than when it comes to de­fend­ing on a turner. The half-for­ward push, or stab, with hard hands was meat and drink for Harmer. Then Van der Merwe swept him for one six, re­verse-swept him for an­other and slog-swept him out of the ground.

It was Leach’s first home ap­pear­ance since the Ashes, and he was re­ceived roy­ally, though the ground was less than half full, as if lo­cals had given up believ­ing af­ter Som­er­set’s loss to Hamp­shire. Leach did his re­doubtable stuff, adding 59 with Van der Merwe and giv­ing Som­er­set a bat­ting point.

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