CricInfo Championship: Essex v Somerset at Chelmsford, 5-8 Sep 2001
Paul Hiscock
CricInfo.com

Somerset 1st innings: Lunch - Day 1, Tea - Day 1, Stumps - Day 1,


COX LEADS SOMERSET OUT OF TROUBLE

The batting of Somerset captain Jamie Cox was the feature on the opening day of this Cricinfo Championship match against Essex which saw the Australian batting throughout the day to finish unbeaten on 175 before bad light stopped play with 10 deliveries still to be bowled.

Cox was in a class of his own as his batting colleagues all perished cheaply after he had won the toss. Apart from the Somerset opener, Peter Bowler was the only batsman to reach double figures as the visitors slumped to 139-5 in the 45th over.

They had begun the match in second position chasing the Ł50,000 prize money for runners-up spot in the CricInfo Division One but gave a far from inspirational performance against their opponents' attack who were rewarded for some impressive seam bowling with Ashley Cowan particularly impressive.

He took two of the wickets to fall to seize the initiative for the bottom of the table side whose relegation was confirmed when Surrey gained their first point in their vital match with Yorkshire.

But the presence of Cox eased Somerset away from their difficult position as the 31-year-old found his first effective support of the innings from Rob Turner who helped his skipper add an unbroken 165 for the sixth wicket, a county record against Essex.

Cox played a number of imperious straight drives and reached his century from 179 deliveries that included 17 boundaries. That was his first Championship ton of the season and he steadily progressed, taking a single to take him on to 123 and thus reach 1,000 runs in the competition this summer.

Cox survived two chances, one difficult to Stuart Law at slip who failed to retain a sharp chance when his fellow countryman had scored 15, and then later in this innings when, with his score 124, he gave a more straightforward catch to 'keeper James Foster with fast bowler Justin Bishop the man to suffer again.

Turner added solid and determined support although he did combine sound defensive qualities with aggressive shots, hoisting off-spinner Peter Such over long-on for six.

He reached his half-century having faced 108 deliveries whilst Cox continued to dominate his opponents' attack to pass 150 from 267 balls that embraced 22 boundaries.

The pair had just achieved a third batting point for Somerset when the umpires offered the light that the batsmen readily accepted.

They will resume tomorrow with their side now in a position of some comfort to build a match-winning position to enhance their claims to the runners-up position at the end of the season which would be Somerset’s highest-ever Championship placing.



COX HUNDRED RESCUES SOMERSET

Jamie Cox scored his first century of the season to hold Somerset together after they lost three wickets in the afternoon session to hasten a slide to 139-5 against relegated Essex.

The 31-year-old struck 17 boundaries in reaching three figures but there was little support from elsewhere for the opener.

Resuming after lunch on 100-2, the visitors lost three further wickets inside five overs to slump to 139-5. Peter Bowler lost his off-stump attempting to drive a delivery from Ashley Cowan and the bowler was given further reward when he left the middle and leg stumps of Ian Blackwell’s wicket askew.

In between, Keith Parsons was given out leg before wicket offering no stroke to Graham Napier as Essex seized the initiative after losing the toss.

But Cox was untroubled and produced powerful drives to take him to three figures as Rob Turner arrived to support his skipper. The pair rescued their side from further problems with an unbeaten stand of 70 for the sixth wicket and, in the final over before tea, 31-year-old Cox took a single that saw him reach 1,000 Championship runs for the season with Somerset 209-5 at the interval.



SEDATE PROGRESS FOR SOMERSET

Facing certain relegation after just one season in the top flight, Essex began their final CricInfo Championship match by giving a home debut to slow left-arm bowler Michael Davies.

In contrast, Somerset – fresh from their C&G Trophy final success on Saturday - were striving to achieve their best-ever place in the Championship in pursuit of runners-up position and prize money of Ł50,000.

The visitors won the toss but were restricted to sedate progress with paceman Ashley Cowan finding nagging accuracy. Although his first delivery was hit to the boundary by Jamie Cox, the bowler then sent down a further 37 balls before conceding his next run.

He was replaced by Ronnie Irani with figures of 8-5-7-0 and the Essex captain struck immediately when he dismissed Matthew Wood with a wide delivery that the batsman clipped to point where Graham Napier took the catch.

The authority of Cox saw the Australian to his half-century, made from 100 deliveries with 10 boundaries but he then saw Michael Burns fall to a superb catch at second slip by Stuart Law who dived to his right to hold an intended powerful cut.

Cox and Peter Bowler then avoided any further problems and took their side safely to lunch with Cox unbeaten on 61, requiring another 62 runs to reach 1,000 Championship runs for the season.

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Date-stamped : 05 Sep2001 - 22:36