Somerset 164 & 77-5 trail Essex 159 & 293-9 by 211 runs
Jamie Porter put Essex on the verge of their fifth successive Specsavers County Championship victory with a four-wicket burst from his first seven overs of Somerset’s second innings.
Set 289 to win in 59 overs, Somerset had staggered to 77 for five from 24 overs at tea, a marked improvement on 42 for five when Porter took a well-earned rest with figures of four for 34.
Porter had taken his third five-wicket haul in the first innings and was on course to beat his career-best figures of nine for 160, recorded against Surrey on the same ground at the end of May. He was also within one wicket of claiming 50 Championship wickets for the third season in a row.
Coming in from the Hayes Close End, the seamer was almost unplayable as the ball whizzed and swung and lifted. He struck with the second ball of the innings, Marcus Trescothick chopping on.
There might have been another in Paul Walter’s first over, but Varun Chopra’s view of an edge from Eddie Byrom might have been obscured by James Foster’s dive. In fact, it was Porter who claimed the second wicket in his next over, swinging one in to Tim Rouse to take the edge on its way through to James Foster.
The same combination accounted for Byrom at which point Porter had three for 15 from 19 deliveries and Somerset were tottering at 31 for three in the seventh over. It was a portent of what was to come.
Harmer entered the fray in the next over and with his third ball had Tom Abell playing no shot to be judged lbw. James Hildreth offered some resistance with 22 from 22 balls before he followed one from Porter and was caught behind.
Craig Overton tried to hit Harmer out of the attack with an enormous six over long leg, the ball disappearing over the T.N. Pearce Stand never to be seen again.