Geoff Wignall: As itâ€™s a match in which Porter is playing and Hildreth would have been bar injury: who was the best uncapped player Vic played with or against? Or maybe one of each, batsman and bowler.
VIC: â€œPossibly I could go for Roebuck or Paul Johnson from Notts and, because he was a very good player of off-spin, Trevor Jesty. Although Iâ€™m not sure any of them were better than Hildreth. Hildreth is the best English batsman Iâ€™ve seen who has not played for England in any format. And everyone used to talk about David Sales, who Duncan Fletcher was said to have written off as much for his lazy attitude in the field as any limitation in his batting.â€
Vic has arrived. He has the radiator end of the box. So this is going to be a half hour of Vic interspersed with OBO updates.
FIFTY for Cook!
34 overs: Essex 79-1 (Westley 20, Cook 46) Overton returns straight after the break, Cook nicks a single then cover drives Gregory for four to reach his fifty, off 100 balls. One from the shelf of familiarity.
I suffer from Raynaudâ€™s and I concur! Itâ€™s all in the layering and keeping moving.
The players are back out and Cook is STILL in short sleeves…
LUNCH! 32 overs: Essex 79-1 (Westley 20, Cook 46)
An unbeaten, unruffled, near-50 from Cook puts Essex in a good place at lunch. On a chilly late September morning, Somerset threw all that they had at him but found no chink. They need a breakthrough after warming up. Iâ€™m stretching my legs, back shortly.
28th over: Essex 69-1 (Westley 11, Cook 46) Cook slices Abell twice away for four and Overton returns for a last pre-lunch burst. A maiden. Scyld Berry walks into the box in his thermals and recollects that in all his long years of watching Cook he has only seen him out twice to the short ball, and also how seldom heâ€™s been hit.
26th over: Essex 58-1 (Westley 10, Cook 36) Tom Abell scratches his head and, remembering Joe Root the other week, brings himself on to replace Jack Brooks. Westley turns one to fine leg to grab a couple. Somerset complain to the umpires about the ball and the young sub brings out a box full of ripe red ones. The new pill seems to nip about a bit more and catches Cook unawares.
â€œSitting fast at home in Paris, delaying going into the office (not putting on your shoes seems to be the last crucial bulwark of psychological impediment) and watching live country cricket.â€ taps Robert Wilson [lucky devil (ed)] â€œGotta love this modern world of ours. Yeah, Covid, Trump, Brexit and all that but also LIVE COUNTRY CRICKET!!! Alistair bleeding Cook! I feel like a puppy meeting its first puddle of other-dog pee. It doesnâ€™t get better than this.â€
24th over: Essex 56-1 (Westley 8, Cook 36) Cook rests at the non-strikers end, legs crossed, hand on hip, one for the ages. Davey replaces Gregory at the pavilion end, but Cook cover drives both for four.
â€œDo you think conditions are too cold for swing?â€asks Matthew Doherty. Weâ€™ve had a long discussion about this in our little box in the Tavern stand and the consensus seems to be that yes, youâ€™re right. Without exactly being able to tell you why youâ€™re right.
21st over: Essex 44-1 (Westley 6, Cook 28) The dominant pattern of dot balls continues in domino fashion, normally youâ€™d expect a wicket from the pressure. But Cook doesnâ€™t think like that and I assume his calm works wonders at the other end too.
Paul Frame, the honorary secretary at Hutton CC writes: â€œAt our Mountnessing ground in Essex there is the perfect infrastructure to deal with windy days like this one. The windmill is also a very inviting target for batsmen to try and hit me for six into it. Loving the coverage as ever. Could you #AskVic what is the strangest feature he has ever seen at a cricket ground?â€
I will! Thanks for all the questions for Vic, Iâ€™ll grab him when heâ€™s free.
19th over: Essex 44-1 (Westley 8, Cook 26) Westley starts Brookâ€™s over with a boundary down to third man, then plays the rest of the over dutifully back.
A thoughtful David Hindle writes â€œJust such a lovely thought. Alastair Cook, batting in a five day match. It must be like being â€œhomeâ€ for him. You can already sense who has the
Test match experience out there. Overton too. But obviously, Cook is so
far ahead of everyone else in that respect, it almost isnâ€™t fair.â€
Youâ€™re so right. Even the way he potters about his stumps between balls spells a man completely at ease.
17th over: Essex 32-1 (Westley 3, Cook 23) The accuracy of the bowlers on a slow pitch brought that wicket. Nevertheless ,Cook slams a short fat one from Brooks for four the very first ball of the next over. Then the dot balls begin again. It wonâ€™t bother Cook, he absorbs them all, a kind of anti-sweat. â€œMorning Tanya,Who is this Cooke, referenced in all the updates? Tut, tut.â€ Yes sorry about that Geoff Wignall, my brain couldnâ€™t cope with the extra e in Browne.
WICKET! Browne c Overton b Gregory 8
The first change bowler gets the breakthrough! Browne edges to second slip, where it is caught comfortably by Overton.
13th over: Essex 27-0 (Browne 8, Cook 19) A double bowling change as Jack Brooks replaces the unluckily-wicketless Overton at the Nursery end. A not particularly scary maiden, but a maiden nonetheless.
Charles Sheldrick is back. â€œI have played many times at Instow in the North Devon League…. usually a strong wind but never as cold as it is at Lordâ€™s today… (the sun always shines in North Devon). The biggest problem we ever had was when the Marines arrived in ribs and a landing craft and stormed the beach…â€
12th over: Essex 27-0 (Browne 8, Cook 19) Browne faces every ball of that two overs. Weathering the storm clad in a full anorak and wellies, not swanning about with a cocktail and sunglasses. Lewis Gregory replaces Josh Davey at the pavilion end. Swarthy, well put together, he starts wide but pulls it in for the rest of the over. A maiden.
10th over: Essex 26-0 (Browne 7, Cook 19) Is that an Alastair Cook hundred I see written on the wall? Overton tries a bouncer and Cook swivels on his boot toes and pulls him to the deep square boundary – snap, crackle, pop!
â€œYesterday was a bit too stressful, with the farce of the last 3 overs just topping it off…..â€ writes Charles Sheldrick. â€œLooking forward to the usual Somerset bowling performance today…..â€
8th over: Essex 19-0 (Browne 5, Cooke 14) Three slips and a gully for both bowlers. Overton troubles Cook who has a false swipe before edging him over the grasping paws of gully. As a marker, Essex. havenâ€™t made 300 all season in a first innings, and no-one has made more than 200 against Somerset , Worcestershire managing 200 in that last group-stages game at New Road.
From Cressida, later last night after Romeoâ€™s pointer towards the Sky stream. â€œPlease tell your Romeo, I am his Juliet! Watching now, but still following you, obviously!! â€œ
5th over: Essex 8-0 (Browne 3, Cook 5) It is so cold out there in the shade, a harsh wind blowing horizontally across the ground – which Paul Edwards tells me should make Craig Overton feel right at home as it is what happens at Instow, his home club at North Devon. Brown and Cook nurdle runs but itâ€™s not easy. Iâ€™m worried that the twelfth man has left Josh Daveyâ€™s long-sleeved woolly jumper dumped on the grass by the boundary rope – itâ€™s still dewy out there, put it on a seat!
2nd over: Essex 1-0 (Browne 1, Cook 0) Essex survive the first two overs comfortably enough.
The players are out, still a thrill to see Alastair Cook stride through the gate in an Essex helmet. I find his ability to seamlessly slot from England captain to county player quite touching. Overton to bowl the first over. Heâ€™s in shirtsleeves in the sun from the Nursery end.
If anyone would like to send in some questions for Vic Marks, he has agreed to sit down and do an ASK VIC for half an hour later today. Ping me either at email@example.com or via Twitter @tjaldred or get busy BTL.
Itâ€™s Friday, itâ€™s North London, itâ€™s chilly but … itâ€™s dry. Welcome to the third day of the Bob Willis Trophy Final, the players are out on the pitch in bobble hats and shorts as the clock ticks to ten oâ€™clock.
The aim is to have 98 overs in the day over three sessions: 10.30-12.40, 1.20-3.30, 3.30-6pm. Essex start the day with Somersetâ€™s 301 in their sights but Somersetâ€™s bowling battalion pawing the grass in readiness.
Hereâ€™s Vicâ€™s report from yesterday: