Essex v Somerset: Porter’s best strengthens title bid

PUBLISHED: 17:09 31 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:09 31 August 2017

Jamie Porter appeals for a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Jamie Porter appeals for a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Jamie Porter recorded career-best match figures of 12-95 to strengthen Essex’s hand at the top of the Specsavers County Championship with an embarrassingly comfortable victory over Division One strugglers Somerset.

Essex's Simon Harmer celebrates taking a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Essex's Simon Harmer celebrates taking a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

The seamer followed up first-innings figures of 5-40 with best innings figures of 7-55 in the second, and in the process passed 50 Championship wickets for the third season in succession.

Of greater significance, Essex’s fifth win in a row gave them a 36-point advantage over second-placed Lancashire ahead of the top-of-the-table match at Old Trafford, starting on Tuesday.

Somerset succumbed by 179 runs inside 38 overs chasing 289 to win in just under two sessions on the final day.

Earlier, Adam Wheater took his overnight 58 to a season’s Championship high of 88, while Ryan ten Doeschate chipped in with a bright 67, to lay the foundations for a Somerset target of just under five an over.

Coming in from the Hayes Close End, Porter was almost unplayable as the ball whizzed and swung, nipped, tucked and reared.

He struck with the second ball of the innings, Marcus Trescothick chopping on.

There might have been another in Paul Walter’s first over, but Varun Chopra’s view of an edge from Eddie Byrom might have been obscured by James Foster’s dive. It mattered little in the long run as Porter claimed the second wicket in his next over, swinging one in to Tim Rouse to take the edge on its way through to Foster.

The same combination accounted for Byrom at which point Porter had 3-15 from 19 deliveries.

Harmer entered the fray in the next over and with his third ball had Tom Abell playing no shot to be judged lbw.

James Hildreth laid into the Essex attack with 22 from 22 balls before he followed one from Porter and was caught behind.

Craig Overton and Steven put on 39 for the sixth wicket, but the return of Porter in the first over after tea signalled the end of Davies, essaying a shot through mid-wicket but edging to Nick Browne at third slip.

It gave Porter his 10th wicket in the match, beating the 9-160 he posted against Surrey on the same ground at the end of May.

Dom Bess followed swiftly, the latest batsman this season to offer no shot to Harmer and look surprised to be given lbw.

Porter’s record sixth wicket in an innings arrived in his 11th over when he came around the wicket to beat Jack Leach for pace and Tim Groenewald failed to get a bat on another express delivery for number seven, before Harmer completed the victory by bowling Overton for a 73-ball 36.

Essex advanced their lead by 126 runs in an entertaining 29-over morning session as Ten Doeschate, who had come in just before rain curtailed the third day, rattled off an enterprising 67 from 89 balls before he was seventh man out to the last ball before lunch.

During that time he was the guiding force in stands of 77 for the fifth wicket in 20 overs with Wheater, and 50 from nine overs with Foster for the sixth. Ten Doeschate set out his stall from the start and survived an early caught-and-bowled chance that gave Groenewald a painful rap on the knuckle, but made the most of his good fortune.

Wheater continued to play attractively, though he reverted to the role of second fiddle in a stand that went past 50 in 13 overs.

He pulled Paul van Meekeren sharply through mid-wicket for his 11th boundary before chasing an outswinger from Craig Overton and was caught behind. He had faced 188 balls.

A wristy late cut off van Meekeren gave ten Doeschate his fourth four and a scampered two into the covers next ball carried him to a 76-ball 50.

Successive fours off Groenewald by ten Doeschate, one past gully and another through the covers, took a rapid sixth-wicket stand with Foster to 50.

The wicketkeeper landed some lusty blows in his 22 from 34 balls before he went lbw to Groenewald and with no addition to the score, ten Doeschate pushed forward to Jack Leach and was snapped up by Trescothick at slip.

At that point Essex led by 279 with 66 overs left in the day and they batted on for 15 minutes after lunch during which time they added 10 runs for the loss of Harmer and Porter, both to the young spinner Dom Bess. With Mohammad Amir absent hurt it was the end of the Essex innings.

Somerset’s reply did not last too long as Essex moved another step closer to the title.

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