Bob Willis Trophy Final: Ends in Draw but Essex take the Trophy
Veteran Ryan ten Doeschate helped Essex bat out a draw to hand his side the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy and their third first-class title in four years.
Somerset 301 & 272/7d
Essex 337/8 (120 overs) & 179/6
Result – Draw
Essex, set 237 to win, needed only to draw the match to be presented with the trophy by Bob Willis’ widow Lauren Clark, due to scoring more first-innings runs.
Somerset managed to dismiss six Essex batsman but 40-year-old ten Doeschate (46) with Adam Wheater, stayed firm for 27 overs, before the latter took them home with Simon Harmer to confirmed Essex as the Bob Willis Trophy winners.
Ten Doeschate, who joined the county in 2003, had kept out 137 balls, and Wheater 80 balls, as Essex fell 58 runs short of their target after 80.3 overs.
Essex have now won four trophies in three years, having won the County Championship in 2017 and 2019 along with last year’s Vitality Blast.
Both those four-day titles came under the captaincy of ten Doeschate before he relinquished the role to Tom Westley at the beginning of this season.
For Somerset, it was the sixth time in 11 seasons, and third in a row, they were ranked as the second-placed side in county cricket – to continue their reputation as red ball bridesmaids.
Somerset began the day with a lead of 191, knowing they needed more runs but as many overs as possible to bowl Essex out.
They eventually settled on giving their opponents 237 runs to win in 80 overs, after declaring on 272 for seven.
They had added 45 runs in 49 balls during the half-hour morning burst thanks mostly to Craig Overton’s 44 not out – which included a huge six over midwicket.
Nick Browne and Sir Alastair Cook were initially dismissive of the challenge with regular boundaries against the new ball.
Browne uppercut the first delivery of the innings past the slip cordon before striking back-to-back boundaries off Overton, while Cook pushed a straight drive and a cover drive off Josh Davey.
But Essex’s bright start stalled as Browne and captain Tom Westley departed in consecutive overs.
Lewis Gregory, who took 6-72 in the first innings, found the former’s edge with his second delivery after his introduction to the attack, before the latter was lbw to Overton.
For the rest of the day, run-scoring became less of a priority with wicket prevention the main aim.
Cook was the dangerman as far as Somerset were concerned after his imperious 172 in the first innings, his tournament-leading 563 runs, and his legendary career record in first-class and Test cricket.
The former England captain demonstrated his trademark grit during a 42-run stand with Dan Lawrence, as he scored a calm 31.
But his time at the crease ended when he was adjudged to have been caught behind off Gregory – the decision met with a teapot stance and a wry grin as he disbelievingly trudged back to the pavilion.
Lawrence added a further 30 runs with Paul Walter, the latter only contributing six of them, before left-arm spinner Jack Leach pinned him leg-before.
It was the first wicket Leach had taken since dismissing New Zealand’s Tim Southee in the Test at Mount Maunganui last November.
Walter and ten Doeschate battened down the hatches again as they scored 33 runs together in just over 16 overs.
But an over after the umpires had taken out the light-metres and told Somerset they couldn’t bowl bouncers, Leach struck Walter in front to leave Essex on 131 for five.
But ten Doeschate used his considerable experience with Wheater to take the sting out of the match, despite the South African-born all-rounder skying a late catch off Leach (3-38) to George Bartlett at midwicket.
Impressively, Cook, Lawrence, Walter, ten Doeschate and Wheater had all spent longer than 90 minutes at the crease.
Tom Westley reckons Essex’s Bob Willis Trophy victory is equal to a County Championship crown.
Essex drew with Somerset in the final at Lord’s but lifted the trophy after a nervy final day thanks to scoring more first innings runs.
The triumph is their third red ball title in four seasons, to go alongside a Vitality Blast success.
And Westley, who took over the captaincy at the beginning of the season, has ranked all three titles as comparable.
“It is hard to put into words how chuffed I am for the boys,” Westley said. “It has been a challenging year, at one point we didn’t think we would get any cricket, so to win the Bob Willis Trophy is amazing.
“I am incredibly proud of the boys up there and the management staff.
“We set out the tournament not knowing whether it would be a one-off tournament with a final at Lord’s so that adds an extra specialness.
“We could be the only team in history to win the Bob Willis Trophy and win a five-day county final at Lord’s so it is right up there with the County Championships.
“What has been fitting with this final is that the best two red ball teams over the last few years have played at Lord’s.”
Essex were forced to bat out 80.3 overs to win the Bob Willis Trophy after Somerset set them 237 to win.
But Sir Alastair Cook, Dan Lawrence, Paul Walter, Adam Wheater and Ryan ten Doeschate all spent more than 100 minutes at the crease to see them to the end.
But it was 40-year-old ten Doeschate, who relinquished the captaincy last year, who helped calm Westley’s nerves in the dressing room.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better person out there in that crunch situation,” Westley said. “He has done it for Essex for so many years. It is a testament to him as a leader. I’m hoping for a few more years of him!
“The boys were incredibly calm, they have an unbelievable amount of confidence based on the success we have had over the last few years.
“We have a few jokers in the changing room and they were chilled, I don’t know if they were putting on a front like myself.
“For me internally it has been a bit of a train-wreck all day.”
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
©Cricket World 2020