As Essex close in on title
On this evidence the ECB liaison officer will not decide the title
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.