30th over: Somerset 90-3 ( Bartlett 8, Byrom 39) An over too far from Beard as Byrom knocks him for three lip-smackers, an off drive, a clip off his hip and a glide through extra-cover. Then a misfield gives him yet another boundary as Harmer drifts to0 far onto his toes. And thatâ€™s lunch! A more-than-tentative recovery there from Somerset in the last half hour. Time for me to stretch my legs, back in 40 minutes.
28th over: Somerset 71-3 ( Bartlett 6, Byrom 22) A hand san break moments before lunch. Hmmm. A deep breath by Somerset, Bartlett and Byrom have steadied what could easily have turned into a shipwreck. A glorious four by Byrom off Beard, then they even dredge three runs off Harmer, who has now leaked 6 from his five overs this morning.
26th over: Somerset 63-3 ( Bartlett 5, Byrom 15) Bartlett and Byrom cook up a brace of fours of Cook, neither of them entirely convincing. And Harmer rolls through another maiden.
A message through cyberspace from Nat Godden â€œRe 20th over â€“ 4th slip! Is that a first for this summer? (this season, I should say).â€ My guess is that, with their attacks, Somerset and Essex are big fans of fourth slips
â€œBTW,â€ he continue, â€œhope youâ€™ve now got bike puncture-repair under control. If only so you can teach the teenager. Life skills!â€
We failed to mend the puncture but we did manage to take the rear wheel off and put a new inner tube in thanks to a suitcase of shiny tools from our neighbour. School missing a trick here – cricket nets and bicycle repairs for this term, a covid-secure delight.
24th over: Somerset 54-3 ( Bartlett 0, Byrom 11) Harmer, tall, stocky, in his dark glasses, darts through a maiden as Bartlett lives dangerously through an over from Cook.
22nd over: Somerset 53-3 ( Bartlett 0, Byrom 8) Just reward there for Cook who has bowled ten overs of his vigorous, testing, seamers. From here 200 seems like a suitable plain to aim for.
â€œWith the camera from one end being at an angle to the wicket rather than behind,â€ types Andy Stuart, â€œitâ€™s like watching old footage from years ago but in colour.â€
Housekeeping: Harry Podmore has signed a three-year contract extension at Kent.
WICKET! Green b Cook 24
Squeaked through the gate as a gutted Green trudges off. Just reward for the excellent Sam Cook after switching to the pavilion end.
20th over: Somerset 51-2 ( Green 24, Byrom 8). A drop! Dan Lawrence at fourth slip as Green flays uneasily and the ball falls low, through his hands and to the boundary. Cook deserved that wicket. And here comes Simon Harmer. A nervous outside edge to the first ball before Green plays out the rest of the over.
And a reminder from the commentators that this was Dom Bessâ€™ last chance of a Somerset match before he joins Yorkshire. A real shame to see him go but completely understandable, how do you learn if youâ€™re constantly on the sidelines? Wishing him all success.
16th over: Somerset 40-2 ( Green 15, Byrom 0) Abell goes the ball after a dreamy cover drive off Beard. A real blow for Somerset as, though just a bairn himself, he is Somersetâ€™s senior batsman in the absence of Hildreth.Out walks Eddie Byrom, averaging only 17 this summer, who started the season opening but has gradually dropped down the order. He gets off the mark to a friendly ball off the pads that he send to the rope.
A smashing piece by Nick Friend on the 30 players who have made first-class debuts this season, from Tom Lammonby to Thilan Walallawita.
WICKET! Abell c Wheater b Beard 19
A super catch! Abell gloves a ball from Beard high and to the legside where Wheater dives and grabs with one stretched out glove.
14th over: Somerset 30-1 (Green 15, Abell 15) Proper creeket this, 30 runs intâ€™ first hour at an overcast but empty Lordâ€™s.
More raised eyebrows over a potential conference system, this time from Gary Naylor.
Excuse the self-promotion, but this sums up the current thinking about next year. What do you think?
12th over: Somerset 29-1 (Green 15, Abell 14) Not a page of newspaper between the two sides right now. Porter sends down another testing over before Aaron Beard replaces Sam Cook at the Nursery end, heâ€™s got a Mark Owen bob and an alice band. Green – a fellow England U-19 – clips him off his hip for a boundary.
A thoughtful email from John Perry about the proposals to organise next yearâ€™s County Championship into three conferences. â€œAs a member of Essex, Iâ€™m against this idea. What exactly is this current obsession with having to end the season with a final? (That of course is what the Gillette Cup used to provide). Either itâ€™s a league or its not â€“ a league / cup hybrid is unsatisfactory as thereâ€™s no guarantee that the best team actually wins (look at rugby union / league). And what happens if the final is ruined by bad weather (which of course is effectively what happened with last yearâ€™s finale between Somerset & Essex)? The Bob Willis trophy was a good idea as a one-off, to ensure that some meaningful first class cricket could be played in a truncated season, but it shouldnâ€™t be used as a blueprint for a wholesale restructuring of the County Championship. No doubt it will though be approved for the same reason we were due to have ten teams in Division 1 this season â€“ no team wants to be without a chance of winning the Championship.
â€œ I have a truly radical alternative â€“ divide the 18 counties into two divisions of nine teams each and play each other on a home and away basis, with two up two down. Bearing in mind how early the season starts these days, and how late it finishes, I cannot believe that two additional first class games canâ€™t be accommodated. Oh, and get rid of the ghastly sounding â€˜100â€™ – an ersatz version of cricket devised for people who donâ€™t like the game and have no interest in it anyway.
â€œThere â€“ rant over.â€
10th over: Somerset 22-1 (Green 8, Abell 14) Some succour for Ben Green. A bundle of fours off Porter, a midwicket chit then an off drive that lifts off to skim across the outfield for four. Abell then plays through a maiden from Cook.
8th over: Somerset 12-1 (Green 3, Abell 9) Supreme though Cook and Porter are, you canâ€™t help wondering when Harmer will make his first appearance. There – a big shout for lbw from Cook against Abell, he prances down the pitch in excitement, but the umpire is uninterested and Abell unbothered.
Cook at first slip has had a fresh trim, the back of his neck visibly shorn as he demonstrates a shot to the wicketkeeper Wheater.
Morning, Tanya writes Jota Jony:
â€œWith this being the first [terrestrial] televised (well, kind of) red ball cricket of this year, does that mean this is the first day of summer?. Doesnâ€™t feel like it up here ..â€
I like to think there is some summer in its soul.
6th over: Somerset 11-1 (Green 2, Abell 9) Iâ€™m feeling good about Abell, heâ€™s confident and crisp in his strokeplay. Donâ€™t hate me. Not a big fan of maroon but it has its place on a cricket field. Somerset and West Indies – not a bad duo.
4th over: Somerset 8-1 (Green 0, Abell 8) Letâ€™s try every-other-over by overing. Two boundaries from Tom Abell to boost spirits- an outside edge then a glorious cut off Cook.
An email arrives from Paul Frame. â€œWhatâ€™s this strange ground they are playing at today? As an Essex fan I canâ€™t remember going to watch any championship cricket being played there in division one in 2018 or 2019?â€
I canâ€™t quite work out if this is tongue in cheek or not…. just in case not, Middlesex won the Championship for the first time since 1993 in 2016 but havenâ€™t been in Division One since a terrible fall from grace in 2017.
2nd over: Somerset 0-1 (Abell 0, Green 0) Iâ€™m not really meaning to OBO this but rather a lot is happening. A disappointing five minutes for Lammonby who carried his bat against Worcestershire at New Road in the crucial last match of the group stages. Small consolation but my daughter, self isolating due to a Covid-case in her physics bubble, sees a resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio.
WICKET! Lammonby lbw Cook 0
Cook bustles down the slope and it hits Lammonby plonk on the pad. He hops away but it doesnâ€™t fool the umpire. Much Essex delight, lots of elbow bumping and fist nudging.
1st over: Somerset 0-0 (Lammonby 0, Green 0) A maiden from Porter to start proceedings. I didnâ€™t have much luck with BBC coverage but the Sky youtube channel is working perfectly.
The players take the knee, for the first time at Lordâ€™s this year. Jamie Porter has the ball and will bowl the first over from the pavilion end.
As the bell rings in the Lordâ€™s pavilion, Cath Hanley shares the feeling of many.
Essex have won the toss and will field
Somerset Ben Green, Tom Lammonby, Tom Abell (c), George Bartlett, Eddie Byrom, Steven Davies (wk), Lewis Gregory, Craig Overton, Josh Davey, Jack Leach, Jack Brooks
Essex: Browne, Cook, Westley (c), Lawrence, Walter, Ten Doeschate, Wheater (wk), Harmer, Beard, Cook, Porter.
A breathless Vic Marks has just sent me the latest update:
â€œNo covers on the pitch…empty seats everywhere including in the skeleton of the new Compton and Edrich stands..Itâ€™s grey but everyone is out there doing their routines..looks as if weâ€™re using one of the Test pitches..optimistic of prompt start but some rain forecast later. Unlike last year thereâ€™s a good chance of a result…Expect Englandâ€™s off-spinner to be one of the twelfth men ..will know shortly.. goodness just seen a shadow…â€
Yesterday we passed the autumn equinox, the days are shorter than the nights from here on in. Play will start at 10.30BST in order to catch the fading light. Iâ€™m just going to put the kettle on and grab a jumper, but do comment below the line(BTL) or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @tjaldred. Here is Vicâ€™s match preview to set the scene:
Good morning! Here we are – the Bob Willis Trophy Final – an event that didnâ€™t exist three months ago but today promises the trombone root-a-toot to the season, a bugle of confetti in increasingly dark skies.
Essex and Somerset are at Lordâ€™s for the first British â€œChampionshipâ€ Final, a new experience on this isle but something that has been played since 1982 in Australiaâ€™s Sheffield Shield.
The two teams made their way here by finishing top of their respective regional groups and elbowing North Group winners Yorkshire out of the way by virtue of having notched up more points. It felt right – they are the best two red ball teams in the country. Essex beat Somerset to win the Championship in the last game of last summer, as well as snatching it in 2017; Somerset, famously never the lace-clad bride, have been runners up six times this century, and for the last two years in a row.
Vic Marks is up and eating breakfast near Lordâ€™s, and reports that it is â€œgrey, damp but no windscreen wipers – guessing some play but not a full day.â€
A neutral venue adds an element of jeopardy, in the words of Essex captain Tom Westley: â€œItâ€™s been challenging for batsmen at both teamsâ€™ home grounds: they have produced a lot of results wickets at Taunton and weâ€™ve had a lot of results wickets at Chelmsford. By all accounts the wicket at Lordâ€™s is going to be one of the Test-match wickets so it should be a better wicket for batsmen.â€
Somerset stormed through the group stages with four wins from five matches – the fifth win ruled out only by the rain. They are without Tom Banton (IPL), James Hildreth (hamstring) and Barbar Azam (back in Pakistan) but have a pocketful of promising young batsmen – Tom Lammonbyâ€™s innings against Worcestershire drew particularly warm praise. But Essex have the better record in recent years, since 2016 they have won three of six meetings in Division One, losing just once. And then there is Simon Harmer.
In the event of a drawn final there will be one tie-breaker option: the county which leads on first innings will be the winner, as long as there were two fully-completed first innings. In any other circumstance a drawn or tied final will see the trophy shared by the finalists.
Put the coffee on my friends, one last, glorious, hurrah.