Browne and Westley give Essex an upset chance at Somerset
PUBLISHED: 20:14 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 20:14 21 August 2018
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Nick Browne and Tom Westley batted Essex to within sight of an unlikely victory on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship match with Somerset at Taunton, writes Richard Latham.
The visitors looked up against in when set a victory target of 336 on a turning pitch. But Browne (75 not out) and Westley (43 not out) took the score from 58 for one to 147 for one at the close, leaving a further 189 to score today.
Earlier the Essex bowlers had done an excellent job bowling out Somerset for 202 in their second innings, off-spinner Simon Harmer finishing with four for 69. Eddie Byrom top-scored with 42, while there were two wickets each for Sam Cook and Peter Siddle.
Essex sensed a chance. Openers Browne and Chopra, realising the spinners were the main danger, attacked the first six overs of seam, plundering 37 off Gregory and Josh Davey.
Skipper Abell had to introduce Leach and Bess before more damage could be done, but at tea Essex were 52 without loss, requiring a further 284, and well in the game.
Soon after the interval, Leach broke the opening stand on 58 as Chopra went leg-before for 24. But if Somerset thought that would open the floodgates for their two spinners they were in for a rude awakening.
Browne was already well set and, while left-armer Leach was getting some turn from the River End, there was little suggestion of movement off the pitch for off-spinner Bess.
With Westley offering sensible support, Browne moved to his half-century off 93 balls, hitting 9 fours, against an increasingly frustrated home attack.
Unless their spinners get more out of the track on the final day, Somerset could face a defeat in match they desperately need to win to close the gap on Championship leaders Surrey.
Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said: “I’m never surprised by cricket because it always throws up weird and wonderful games such as this. Going into the fourth day both teams are both very much in the hunt.
“The first session in the morning will be vital.”