County Championship Division 1 - day two (close)

Essex 216 & 164/6 lead Somerset 131 by 249 runs

SOMERSET face an uphill task to avoid defeat at Chelmsford as hosts Essex took control of the County Championship encounter on day two.

Fast bowlers Aaron Beard and Jamie Porter claimed figures of 4-23 and 5-51, respectively, on the same day they agreed to remain at Chelmsford until the end of 2021, as table toppers Somerset were bowled out for 131.

The analysis proved Beard’s career best in First-Class cricket, while Porter chalked up his 11th five-wicket haul in red ball cricket.

Having taken a first innings lead of 85, Sir Alastair Cook followed-up his first innings score of 80 with 47 to put Essex into a healthy position with an advantage of 249 runs.

Beard proved electric in a morning session where he bowled five overs, during which he took four for 23, although it was a 13-ball stint mid-way through his efforts which rocked Somerset.

Porter and Peter Siddle had provided 11 overs of probing, which saw plenty of play and misses and Tom Abell lose his wicket – as Porter celebrated his 300th First-Class wicket when the visiting skipper was lbw.

Beard then entered the attack, and with just his third ball he ended Tim Groenewald’s 52-ball vigil, as the night-watchman drove loosely to Tom Westley at third slip.

James Hildreth and Tom Banton, who had been spilt by Ryan ten Doeschate at short-leg off Simon Harmer, followed in the same over as Beard forced a mistimed pull which looped to square-leg from the former and a push outside off-stump which whizzed behind off the latter’s bat.

Chelmsford-born Beard then duped Steven Davies by taking pace off the ball, and the batsman chipped tamely to ten Doeschate at mid-off. That left Somerset 74-6.

Rain, which brought about an early lunch, saw eight overs lost in the day, but when play resumed it took 5.1 overs before Porter drew an edge out of Lewis Gregory, which arched to Harmer at second slip.

Siddle claimed his first wicket of the match when George Bartlett was plumb in front before Porter saw off the tail – Jamie Overton picked out deep square leg before Jack Brooks saw his middle stump poleaxed.

In reply, Nick Browne jauntily attacked the new ball but departed for 29 when a leading edge was caught, after a juggle, by Gregory at gully.

Essex continued to score runs at a good rate but lost wickets at regular intervals – in a similar manner to the first innings.

Tom Westley was also caught off a leading edge and Dan Lawrence flicked behind.

Cook fell three runs short of a second half-century in the match when he was caught low down by Overton at second slip and then captain ten Doeschate nicked off before Ravi Bopara chipped to mid-wicket just before the close with Essex 164-6, a lead of 249.

Copy supplied by Alex Smith, ECB Reporters' Network