County Championship: Somerset bowl out Essex despite Alastair Cook's 80

Alastair Cook
Essex opener Alastair Cook struck 12 fours during his 186-ball innings
County Championship Division One, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford (day one):
Essex 216: Cook 80; Leach 3-30, Overton 3-43
Somerset 32-1: Abell 22*; Porter 1-17
Somerset (3 pts) trail Essex (1 pt) by 184 runs with 9 wickets remaining

County Championship leaders Somerset bowled out Essex for 216 at Chelmsford, despite a fine 80 from Alastair Cook.

The ex-England captain was the only batsman to pass fifty on the opening day as the hosts collapsed from 126-1 to 216 all out after a solid start.

Jamie Overton (3-43) and Lewis Gregory (2-48) tore open the top order before England spinner Jack Leach took the last three wickets.

Somerset closed on 32-1, with Azhar Ali the man to fall for eight.

Fellow opener Tom Abell (22 not out) was joined by nightwatchman Tim Groenewald for the final five overs and the pair survived unscathed.

Captain Abell's side are currently 24 points clear at the top of the Division One table, having won five and drawn one of their opening six fixtures.

It was Essex who enjoyed a dominant morning session at Chelmsford, however, with Nick Browne the only wicket to fall for 29.

They looked set for a big total while Cook and Tom Westley (36) remained at the crease, but the latter's departure, caught behind off Overton, sparked a flurry of wickets throughout the afternoon.

Cook struck a typically resilient 80 from 186 deliveries before falling to Tim Groenewald and Leach polished off the tail to leave the visitors 16 overs to bat before the close.

Sam Cook faces six weeks out

Essex seamer Sam Cook will be out for up to six weeks after sustaining a side strain in last week's innings win over Hampshire.

"Sam is going to be a big miss for us over the next month and a half," said head coach Anthony McGrath.

"He's an important part of our bowling attack, but we're lucky to have a really talented squad with players ready to step up and fill his shoes.

"To outscore Notts, Kent and Hampshire by between 80 and 100 runs on the wickets we have been playing on is a good effort.

"Let's hope we can outscore Somerset in this game as well as that is the key to winning this match. If Somerset bat past us it will be difficult.

"We talk every game about someone getting a big century and the rest batting around him. We managed to get too biggish partnerships there and Alastair Cook showed all his class.

"He looked unflappable when the ball was moving around just after lunch. It is a shame he couldn't get to three figures.

Somerset fast bowler Jamie Overton:

"It was coming out lovely. I feel like I've been in some good rhythm in the last month or so. I try to bowl fuller nowadays and hit the stumps as much as I can and it seems to be swinging a lot at the moment.

"Cook batted nicely again. You know what you are going to get from him he is always going to be there or thereabouts. He is one of the hard guys to get out.

"When Trescothick was in his pomp that was the main wicket for Somerset and now with Essex you are always looking to get Cook out."

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