Essex 216 lead Somerset 32/1 by 184 runs 

Somerset’s bowling attack, led by Jamie Overton and Jack Leach, underlined why the county sit comfortably on top of the Specsavers County Championship Division One table as they bowled Essex out for 216, writes Alex Smith.

Pace bowler Overton and left-arm spinner Leach both claimed three wickets each, while seamers Lewis Gregory and Tim Groenewald both snatched two-fors.

Essex’s sole resistance came in the form of England’s record Test run scorer Sir Alastair Cook – who scored a patient 80 as the hosts lost nine wickets for 90 runs.

In reply to Essex’s 216, Somerset lost Azhar Ali during their tricky 16 overs spell under the floodlights, as the visitors ended the day 184 runs behind.

Essex won the toss and decided to bat on a typical Chelmsford wicket, which at times hinted it would turn later in the match, under blue skies, which would cloud over throughout the day.

Both sides observed a minute’s silence before play started and wore black armbands in tribute to Somerset chairman Charles Clark who died last Friday.

Cook and Nick Browne had a fluctuating period against the new ball, as the latter struck three luscious boundaries in consecutive balls before a period of 27 dots.

The opening stand reached exactly 50, in the 13th over, before Browne shouldered his arms to Overton’s fourth delivery – which straightened and extracted his off stump.

Cook continued in his standard choppy style as he passed a half-century for the 175th time in his first-class career, in 99 deliveries.

But it was Tom Westley who led the 76-run partnership for the second wicket, with a series of glamorous cover drives.

He fell for 36 when he feathered an edge behind as he was beaten for pace and bounce by the impressive Overton – which sparked regular wickets to fall through the rest of the afternoon.

Dan Lawrence was lbw to in-form seamer Gregory, before Ravi Bopara survived a nick to third slip first ball before he spooned a pull to mid-on – Gregory managing to get the ball to stick in the pitch.

Ryan ten Doeschate was dismissed leg before for the fifth time in nine Championship innings this season when Overton, who ended with three for 43, found him falling over an in-swinger.

Cook had dropped anchor as he added 30 runs in 87 balls following his bat raise, and received a life on 64 when he offered Jack Brooks a caught and bowled chance, which was spilt.

The former England captain failed to capitalise as he fell looping a bat and pad catch to Overton, who had been stationed at second slip, at gully.

Adam Wheater and Simon Harmer chipped in with 21 and 15 respectively to provide some lower-middle order respite before both edged behind – the former off Groenewald and the latter Jack Leach, his 200th Championship wicket.

Having helped Essex to a batting point, Peter Siddle was lbw and Jamie Porter edged behind as the increasingly potent Leach took three for 30 to bowl out the hosts for 216.

In overcast conditions, Pakistan batsman Ali departed when he edged Porter behind for eight.

But skipper Tom Abell guided Somerset to stumps, alongside unconvincing nightwatchman Groenewald, on 32 for one.

Overton said: "It was coming out lovely today. I feel like I’ve been in some good rhythm in the last month or so.

“Two weeks ago at Kent I only bowled nine overs in the game but then today I got through a few overs and bowled nicely as a result.

“I try to bowl fuller nowadays and hit the stumps as much as I can and it seems to be swinging a lot at the moment.

“It has done a little bit throughout the day. We didn’t bowl to our best before lunch and bowled a fraction short at times. We knew we weren’t at the races.

“Cook batted nicely again, you know what you are going to get from him he is always going to be there or thereabouts. He is one of the hard guys to get out. 

“When Trescothick was in his pomp that was the main wicket for Somerset and now with Essex you are always looking to get Cook out.

“We’ll have taken 216 when they were 129 for one, to come back like that and keep them under 250 was an unbelievable effort.

“You would think if it spins on day one then you would think it will spin throughout, that is why our first batting innings is crucial. We will want to get a batting lead of 150 as that will make it harder for Essex – then hopefully we won’t chase too many in the last innings."