County Championship: Batsmen dominate as Essex and Somerset seem set for draw at Chelmsford

James Hildreth
James Hildreth's score of 78 came from 148 balls and included eight fours
Specsavers County Championship Division One, The Cloudfm County Ground (day three):
Essex 517-5 dec: Ten Doeschate 173*, Bopara 118 & 17-2
Somerset 407: Hildreth 78, Byrom 54; Wagner 3-122
Essex (6 pts) lead Somerset (5 pts) by 127 runs

Essex and Somerset seem set for a draw despite the hosts losing two late wickets at Chelmsford in Division One.

Resuming on 140-2, all of Somerset's top-eight batsmen passed 20, but only James Hildreth (78) and opener Eddie Byrom (54) made half-centuries.

Essex's bowlers steadily made their way through Somerset's order - Neil Wagner taking 3-122 as they were dismissed for 407 with nine overs left in the day.

The hosts closed on 17-2 to lead by 127 going into the final day.

Essex seamer Jamie Porter took the early scalp of Byrom, caught behind by Adam Wheater having added just one run to his overnight score.

Skipper Tom Abell came in at five to partner Hildreth for the biggest stand of the innings of 92, before he edged Ravi Bopara behind for 41.

England spinner Dom Bess hit six fours in his 35 from 38 balls, while Jamie Overton got a quickfire 35 at number 10 - the final bit of resistance before being caught at mid-on off Tom Westley's part-time bowling.

Westley was promoted to open as England's Alastair Cook was ill and was ordered to sit out day three.

But Westley faced just two balls before being trapped lbw by Josh Davey with the eighth ball of the innings, while debutant Michael Pepper went the same way to Lewis Gregory's bowling as Essex's reply got off to an inauspicious start.

Having been 1-2 off 13 balls, Bopara (11 not out) and Nick Browne (5 not out) saw Essex through to the close.

Essex fast bowler Sam Cook:

"It's a good wicket, although it's not offering an awful lot. We stuck together as a team, restricted them in patches and took wickets.

"At one point it looked like Somerset would easily avoid the follow-on, and it was a real test of our character when our backs were against the wall.

"We're just going to try and get a solid base with the bat and reassess as the day goes on. We don't want to look too far ahead."

Somerset's James Hildreth:

"Most of the guys got 30s and 40s. It was a really good team effort, but frustrating that no one went to get a big 100 for us.

"The wicket is pretty flat and the pink ball didn't do much throughout the day - and then the lights come on and it swings a bit when it's new. But most of the time it did very little.

"As we've seen from some of the other games, when the lights come on, for some reason - I don't know the science behind it - the ball seems to do a bit. Lewis Gregory was swinging it at the end, and Josh Davey made it nibble."

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