After a throwback draw against Kent which saw 5 separate century scorers and 1163 runs for 20 wickets across 4 days at an average of 58.15 runs per wicket, Essex this week travel away from the often spin friendly Cloud FM County Ground to the often spin friendly Taunton to face Somerset. A Somerset team that had a polar opposite performance in their match against Hampshire last week where they scored 180 and 135 runs in their loss by an innings and 113 runs. Essex visit in good batting form, albeit on a batter friendly wicket, but also with a pair of inform spin bowlers which could see a real advantage at Taunton. New signing Matthew Critchley, who has a fairly average bowling average of 43 not only scored a magnificent 132 from 179 on debut but also took 4/114 bowling leg spin, but also Simon Harmer who has returned from international duty with South Africa.
Both teams welcome back their talisman kings of spin, Jack Leach and Simon Harmer. The inclusion of Leach again suggests that a spinning pitch could be prepared, however, with Critchley in form, and Harmer returning from a successful campaign with South Africa which saw him take 13 wickets at 15.15 against Bangladesh, maybe the Taunton curator will lean towards a more batting friendly strip. All eyes on Essex’s England batsman Dan Lawrence who was unable to capitalise coming in to bat at 241/2 last week scoring only 7 runs. The evergreen James Hildreth will be important for Somerset as they will need to compile runs, Hildreth scored 32% of Somerset’s runs against Hampshire. He will need much more support from the likes of Australian test batsman Matt Renshaw who returns to Somerset for the first time since 2018 when he appeared for the country in 6 county championship matches compiling 513 runs at an average of 51.13. Past Essex overseas favourite Peter Siddle is likely to make his second appearance for Somerset after being the stand out seam bowler last week with 2/66. Fellow Ossie quick Mark Steketee is Essex overseas seam bowler filling the Peter Siddle hole at number 9 for Essex, although he suffered a tough introduction to test cricket with figures of 0/96, albeit on a flat one in Chelmsford last week.
Essex only squad change is that Harmer comes into replace Matt Beard with Harmer likely to come into the XI for Shane Santer batting at 8. Somerset not only welcome back Jack Leach but also see stars Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory, Jack Brooks and Matt Renshaw in the squad which will ensure a much stronger line up and likely a better all round performance with both bat and ball.
Tom Westley (Captain), Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Sam Cook, Matt Critchley, Simon Harmer, Dan Lawrence, Michael Pepper, Jamie Porter, Adam Rossington, Shane Snater, Mark Steketee, Adam Wheater.
Tom Abell (c), Kasey Aldridge, Jack Brooks, Steve Davies, Lewis Goldsworthy, Ben Green, Lewis Gregory, James Hildreth, Tom Lammonby, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Matt Renshaw and Peter Siddle.
Weather and Conditions
Weather for the lead up to easter in the south west will be surprisingly warm for this time of the year with temperatures around 16 degrees but overcast conditions expected with rain on Wednesday which may create some green grass to delight both teams strong seam bowling attacks.
Date: 14th-17th Apr 2022
Ground: Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton
Odds (SkyBet): Somerset 11/8 Essex 8/15