Bob Willis Trophy Final: Day 2: Somerset vs Essex
Eddie Byrom fired Somerset into a positive position in the Bob Willis Trophy final with an impressive 117 at Lord’s.
Essex won the toss and elected to bowl
Batsman Byrom blunted the Essex bowling attack on a flattening wicket with his third first-class hundred, and his first against county opposition.
The Zimbabwean put on a sixth wicket stand of 127 with Craig Overton (66) but Essex’s second new ball somewhat equalised the match as Somerset were bowled out for 301 and Sam Cook (5-76) celebrated a five-wicket haul.
Byrom had returned overnight on 51, already his highest score of the season, but it was Steven Davies who did the bulk of the early run scoring.
The wicketkeeper twice edged to the third man boundary, before performing a picture-perfect cover drive off Jamie Porter.
Davies was the only wicket to fall on the second day when he was caught behind dangling his bat outside his off-stump.
That partnership had been worth 45, Somerset’s highest fifth wicket stand in the Bob Willis Trophy, and a sixth-wicket best was to follow between Byrom and new partner Overton.
Byrom rarely looked perturbed by anything the Essex attack could muster at him – as their first day new ball and helpful overheads had abated and replaced with blue skies.
Byrom, who has an Irish passport, previously had a county best of 56, and season high of 30 but would have impressed the watching Graham Gooch, regardless of his allegiances.
His only other first-class centuries had come against Cardiff MCCU and for Raising Stars, against Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers, but he never looked ill at ease during his maiden appearance at Lord’s.
He took a particular shine to the competition’s leading wicket-taker Simon Harmer, striking him for back-to-back pulled and swept boundaries when the off-spinner was introduced in the 16th over of the day.
Byrom’s 15th boundary was his best, and most memorable, though, as he on-drove Cook to reach three figures, off 181 balls – he is the sixth Somerset player to reach a hundred this season.
While Byrom had been accumulating his way to a milestone, so was Overton.
The all-rounder had survived two lbw appeals, from Aaron Beard and Harmer, and regularly edged to the third man boundary.
Overton’s half century was brought up in 85 balls with a tickled single to fine leg, while the 100 partnership with Byrom was also ticked off.
The players were replaced by covers at 1.50pm, having returned from lunch half an hour previous, but after 35 overs had been lost play continued.
After six non-event overs, the new ball was taken and Porter struck almost immediately – when Overton was lbw to one which eased into the pads.
Cook ended Byrom’s vigil in the next over before quickly dismissing Lewis Gregory, both lbw, to return his first five-wicket haul of the year and take his season tally to 17 scalps.
Harmer mopped up Numbers 10 and 11 in successive balls as Jack Leach was leg before and Jack Brooks was castled.
Essex were due to face three overs, but as soon as Sir Alastiar Cook and Nick Browne reached the wicket they were turned back by the umpires, who had decided it was too dark.
In total, 38 overs were lost in the day, after 44 had been lost on the opening day.
Eddie Byrom has admitted his work with Marcus Trescothick has paid off following his exceptional 117 in the Bob Willis Trophy final.
Somerset batsman Byrom collected his third first-class hundred, and his first against county opposition, to help his side reach 301 against Essex at Lord’s.
And the 23-year-old has revealed the coaching from Somerset coach and England legend Trescothick has helped turn his form around.
“I have done quite a bit of work with Tres,” Byrom said. “I have been extremely lucky at Somerset to have some exceptional opening batters to learn from in recent years.
“To have them to learn from has been excellent and I have definitely learnt from Tres. It is not a surprise a few things have seeped through into my game.
“I am extremely proud of my performance, especially to do it in a final at an amazing venue.
“I had been struggling for form recently so to get back in the runs is massively pleasing for me. It has brought back my confidence and doing it in a massive makes it all the more special.
“It is my first time playing at Lord’s. I have only been here once before to watch Somerset in the final last year. It is very pleasing to get my first Championship hundred here.
“It is right up there with my best innings; it is certainly my most important in such a big game.”
Byrom put on 127 with Craig Overton for the sixth wicket to save Somerset from a collapse.
“I think that partnership was crucial,” Byrom said. “I think he came in when we were 139 for five and they were bowling really well during that period, so another couple of wickets there and we were in a lot of trouble.
“Craig showed a lot of resilience and skill to build a massive partnership.”
Byrom is eligible to play international cricket for Zimbabwe, where he was born, and England.
But he only has his heart set on England. He said: “Zimbabwe isn’t a temptation. I moved over when I was 16 and got on the Somerset academy and progressed from there.
“Zimbabwe is a bit of a mess right now so I am committed to playing for Somerset and wanting to play for England. That is definitely my ambition.”
Somerset - Ben Green, Tom Lammonby, Tom Abell(c), George Bartlett, Edward Byrom, Steve, Davies(wk), Lewis Gregory, Craig Overton, Josh Davey, Jack Leach, Jack Brooks
Essex - Nick Browne, Sir Alastair Cook, Tom Westley(c), Dan Lawrence, Paul Walter, Ryan ten Doeschate, Adam Wheater(wk), Simon Harmer, Aaron Beard, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter
Start Time: 10:30
Toss: Essex won the toss and decided to field
Venue: Lord's, London
Officials: Robert Bailey, Russell Warren, Dean Cosker
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