Tom Westley’s century has Essex on the brink of Royal London Cup semi-finals

Tom Westley scored a century for Essex. Picture: PA

Tom Westley scored a century for Essex. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Tom Westley hit a century as Essex moved to within touching distance of a home semi-final with a 72-run Royal London One-Day Cup win over previous South Group leaders Somerset at Taunton.

A crowd of around 4,000 saw the visitors run up 334 for six from their 50 overs, Westley making exactly 100, Ravi Bopara 92 not out and Alastair Cook 65. Craig Overton and Roelof van der Merwe claimed two wickets each.

Somerset were given a lightning start in reply by Johann Myburgh (57). But despite a solid 77 from skipper Jim Allenby, they lost wickets regularly as Neil Wagner took three for 55 and Simon Harmer three for 56.

The result gave Essex a two-point lead over Somerset going into the final round of group games, so avoiding defeat in their final match against Kent at Canterbury would put them in the last four. Somerset may have to be content with a quarter-final spot.

Essex centurion Westley said: “It was nice to get some runs again. They are always more valuable when it helps the team to an important win.

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“We were aware of the pressure on us going into the game, needing to win and if possible improve our run rate. Thankfully, we did both.

“I though Ravi Bopara showed his true form. He started slowly, but finished with a real flourish.”

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Somerset batsman Johann Myburgh added: “We were only at about 60 per cent today and that isn’t good enough when you come up against strong teams.

“We made a number of fielding errors, which isn’t like us, and I am sure we will be better in that respect when we take on Middlesex at Lord’s on Wednesday.

“I love batting at the top of the order in white ball cricket and being really positive from the start. I was ill with a virus at the start of the competition and have been patient in awaiting my chance while the other players were doing so well.

“Now I hope to do enough to stay in the team.”

Essex look to build on a fine start to the season when they travel to Kent for their final Royal London group game on Wednesday, start 1.30pm.

Then they return to four-day County Championship action this Friday as they host Hampshire, first ball 11am.

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