Bob Willis Trophy Final: Day 4 - Somerset vs Essex – poised for final day thriller
Tom Lammonby struck his third century in as many matches as Somerset and Essex set up a barnstorming finale in the Bob Willis Trophy.
Somerset vs Essex at Lord's
Somerset 301 & 227/7 lead Essex 337/8 (120 overs) by 191 runs
Opening batsman Lammonby only made his first-class bow last month but effortlessly collected 116 at Lord’s.
The 20-year-old helped Somerset to 227 for seven and a lead of 191, but wickets from evergreen duo Jamie Porter (4-51) and Simon Harmer (2-79) stunted their progress ahead of the final day.
Somerset simply need to bowl Essex out to win the title on the last day, while the reigning County Champions can draw the match to claim the Bob Willis Trophy, due to scoring more runs in the first innings.
Lewis Gregory had called the first half an hour on the fourth day “big” during his post-day interviews yesterday – with Essex requiring 31 more runs to claim the important first-innings lead.
It proved anti-climatic as nightwatchman Porter and Adam Wheater comfortably wiped out the deficit in 44 balls and 31 minutes.
Gregory had a ‘big’ following 10 minutes when he uprooted Porter’s middle stump and had Harmer caught at second slip. The fast bowler ended with six for 72, as Essex concluded their 120 over innings on 337, a lead of 36.
In response, Somerset returned to credit in little more than 12 overs, with Lammonby punishing Porter for back-to-back boundaries in the embryonic stage of his innings.
Lammonby would have watched team-mate Eddie Byrom and Sir Alastair Cook’s centuries during the opening three days of the encounter but instead of replicating their often-gritty efforts, he found a flow.
After a watchful start against the new ball which had caused issues in their first innings, he and Ben Green soon pushed the run-rate to around 3.5 runs an over before the latter edged Aaron Beard to Cook at first slip after a 105-run stand.
Exeter-born Lammonby made his Somerset debut in last season’s Vitality Blast but was forced to wait until 2020 for his first appearance in red ball cricket.
A 41 in his first innings showed promise, but hundreds in the last two group games against Gloucestershire and Worcestershire – in which he carried his bat – demonstrated his young talent.
He reached his 73-ball half-century with a paddled sweep before he produced a stunning string to move from 63 to 92 in 13 balls – helped by three successive boundaries off Aaron Beard.
That coincided with a 47-ball 50 partnership with Tom Abell, before the Somerset captain clipped Porter to square-leg.
Lammonby raised his bat and helmet on his century after a flick to midwicket after an chanceless 134 deliveries, before bettering his previous best of 107.
Then Porter and Harmer, who now have 65 wickets between them in the competition, combined to decimate the Somerset middle-order.
First-innings century-maker Byrom was the first to depart in a sequence under the lights, which saw four wickets fall in 47 balls, when he chopped Porter on.
The eye of the hurricane was a 10-ball spell which saw the back of George Bartlett, Lammonby and Lewis Gregory for a single run.
Bartlett pulled Porter to Tom Westley at mid-on, Lammonby was lbw to Harmer and then Cook snatched a flying catch to dismiss Gregory off Porter.
Craig Overton, who was dropped by sub fielder Ben Allison at fine leg on nine, and Steven Davies rebuilt slowly with a 36-run stand.
But Davies gave Cook his third catch of the day at first slip soon before bad light brought play to a premature end with six overs left in the day.
Jamie Porter insists that if Essex win the Bob Willis Trophy by drawing the match it will not diminish the achievement.
Reigning County Champions Essex will loft the trophy if they avoid being bowled out by Somerset on the final day – as a draw will be good enough for them, due to a higher first innings total.
Somerset boast a lead of 191 heading into day five and when asked if drawing the match would sour the achievement the fast bowler said: “If I’m being honest, no!
“It was fairly even this morning when we went out to bat and they had a chance to knock us over without taking that lead.
“Obviously we would look to win the game and we would like to win the game.
“I don’t think it will effect our approach tomorrow, maybe little things like coming off for the bad light means we aren’t disheartened by it.
“In other circumstances you might be thinking about rolling them in the bad light while it is offering a little but under light but coming off doesn’t hurt you as much knowing that light is on our side.”
Porter claimed an impressive 4-51 but spent the majority of the day watching 20-year-old Tom Lammonby compile his third century in as many matches.
Lammonby, who only made his first-class debut last month, struck 117 to draw comparisons of current England Test opener Rory Burns from Porter.
“I think he looks like Rory Burns in the way he played with the strength on the leg side, albeit with a more pleasing setup on the eye,” Porter said.
“I was really impressed. I probably didn’t show it while I was bowling at him but he played some shots off my bowling where I bowled a good ball that he hit for four. Only good batters do that.
“The confidence for a young lad to come out and bat like that in such a big game was very impressive and I am excited to see what the future holds for him.”
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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