County Championship: Alastair Cook gets 96 as Essex get better of Somerset

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook has now had four scores of 50 or more in the Championship for Essex this season, but is yet to convert any into a century
Specsavers County Championship Division One, The Cloudfm County Ground (day one):
Essex 298-4: Cook 96, Browne 66; Bess 2-74
Somerset: Yet to bat
Essex 2 pts, Somerset 1 pt

Alastair Cook came agonisingly close to a first century of 2018 as Essex had the better of the first day of their County Championship game with Somerset.

The former England captain hit 96 before being trapped lbw by Dom Bess.

He and Nick Browne (66) put on 151 for the opening wicket - Essex's biggest partnership of the season so far.

Bess (2-74) also took the wicket of debutant Michael Pepper - who scored 22 from 45 balls on his 20th birthday - as Essex closed on 298-4.

Cook and Browne were in imperious form in the day-night game at Chelmsford.

Browne hit 11 fours in his 142-ball innings before he was fortuitously run-out by Tim Groenewald, the South African getting a finger to a Cook straight drive and guiding the ball onto the stumps as Browne backed up.

Cook's last century was his 244 not out in the fourth Ashes test in Melbourne last December, but Bess' wicket was deserved after some good bowling by the recently-capped England Test bowler.

Captain Ryan ten Doeschate returned from his two-game suspension to hit 46 not out as he and Ravi Bopara (34 not out) closed the day with an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 86.

Essex's Nick Browne:

"The pink ball swings a bit at the start and goes quite soft pretty quick. Just leading into lunch, and straight after, they bowled well with straight fields and we hit their fielders and that built up the pressure.

"Scoring might become a bit tougher as the game goes on, if this pink ball does continue to go soft.

"It was nice to get through the new ball and to enjoy playing some good shots with Cooky.

"Hopefully the sun can bake this wicket, and potentially it goes really dry and goes a bit up and down and we can get Simon Harmer into the game."

Somerset and England spinner Dom Bess:

"It was a bit of a slog, especially when it was sunny. The ball wasn't doing anything. There was a little period when it did do a bit, but those balls just seem to flake away.

"We changed the ball three or four times before 80 overs, so it's not great. It's not that good a ball. With it cracking flags I don't think it comes into effect that much.

"I went from the first interval right the way to about halfway through the last one. It was a long spell, but that's what I want to do - I want to be bowling as much as I can. I feel like I can take wickets."

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