Jamie Porter brings Essex back after Somerset skittle them out for 159

Nick Browne top scored for Essex with 44. Picture: ARCHANT

Nick Browne top scored for Essex with 44. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Su Anderson

Somerset seamers Paul van Meekeren and Craig Overton gave Essex the first real examination of their Specsavers County Championship title credentials for nearly four months when they skittled the Division One leaders for 159.

Dutchman van Meekeren, 24, claimed career-best first-class figures of four for 60 on his Championship debut, with Overton chipping in with four for 40, as Essex were bowled out in 51 overs.

Only Nick Browne and Ryan ten Doeschate, who compiled 51 for the fifth wicket before lunch, showed any serious resolve on a day when the ball nipped and swung.

But when Somerset replied they found Jamie Porter in equally devastating form, taking four wickets for 27 from 12 overs as the visitors ended the day 41 runs adrift with five wickets in hand.

Porter said: “I feel we are back into it now. If we put a big shift in in the morning, the first hour, win that first hour, then it is going to go a long way to putting us in a good position in this game.

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“If we can bowl them out for somewhere near where we finished up then we are massively in this game. It’s weird today – I don’t think any of us really felt panicked.

“I know it is a below-par score, but we are a good enough side that if we do fall behind in the game we can easily get back into it. I think it’s honours even at the moment.

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“There is enough happening out there. At times it looks flat, then there will be a good ball flying about. It’s one of those pitches where the batters are never quite in. But Hildreth and Abell showed you can score runs out there.”

Somerset’s Overton said: “I feel we’re on top. We’d like to have lost a few less wickets, but I feel we’re in a good position. Both teams wanted to bat this morning so to bowl them out for 159 on a hot day like it is was pretty good.

“We’re not used to this heat in England, but we all stuck to our guns and to get them out for 159 we’re really happy. We’d be happy with any lead, but ideally we probably want 50-60 at least. That would put us in a good position going into when we bowl again.

“I don‘t think it moved around a lot. We bowled pretty well and we held on to most things.”

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