Somerset v Essex
Bob Willis Trophy Final
Wednesday 23 – Sunday 27 September
Essex have the opportunity to lift another trophy when they meet Somerset in the Final of the Bob Willis Trophy starting at Lord’s on Wednesday.
The competition was introduced into the domestic calendar this year after the effects of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the County Championship. All 18 teams were split into three regionalised groups, with the two highest-scoring teams meeting in a decider at The Home of Cricket.
The match will be staged over five days and if a positive outcome cannot be reached, then the team with the most runs after the first innings will be declared the winners. Should the weather prevent that criterion, then the title will be shared.
Head Coach’s View:
Essex Head Coach Anthony McGrath is excited at the prospect of the opportunity to bring another major trophy to Chelmsford following the County Championship and Vitality Blast double last year.
McGrath said: “I think over the last couple of years, both teams have proved themselves to be very, very consistent and most people in the game wouldn’t argue that the two best teams in the country are meeting in the Final.
However, the Head Coach insists that the Bob Willis Trophy winners must not be considered as County Champions.
“I don’t think anyone can kid themselves about that, “he stated.
“Normally in a County Championship, you are rewarded for consistency, skill and stamina over the full 6 months, but this competition hasn’t been that, it’s just been 5 games.
“So it’s not the County Championship but we are going out to win this competition. We discussed this with the players at the start of the tournament and we all agreed that the opportunity of playing a red-ball Lord’s Final over five days might not happen again.
“So that, of course, is special and I know that all the lads are looking forward to it and are desperate to get their place in the team and play their part in what we hope will be in Essex victory.”
Essex will pick their team from a 13-man squad.
The Final Preview:
Somerset Head Coach Jason Kerr is backing his side to overcome Essex and lift the Bob Willis Trophy.
He said: “The best two teams in the country have reached the Bob Willis Final and if we continue to play the brand of cricket we produced in the group stage of the competition we can come out on top.
“As things stand, Essex are the number one red ball team and we are number two. It would be great to reverse those standings and that is the aim.
“I believe we have improved on our skills from last season, not least through the emergence of some really exciting youngsters and I am really looking forward to the game.
“The prospect of seeing how they perform against a side as good as Essex with a trophy at stake is incredibly exciting for me as a Coach.”
Tom Abell (c), George Bartlett, Dom Bess, Jack Brooks, Eddie Byrom, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Ben Green, Lewis Gregory, Tom Lammonby, Jack Leach, Craig Overton and Roelof van der Merwe.
Record Between The Sides:
Essex and Somerset have clashed on 146 previous occasions in first-class cricket, with Essex claiming victory on 58 occasions, whilst Somerset have won 36. There have been 51 drawn matches plus 1 tied game.
The last time that Essex played in a Final at Lord’s was back in 2008 when they beat Kent Spitfires to clinch the Friends Provident Trophy. After dismissing their old adversaries for 214, Essex won by 5 wickets with 7 balls to spare, with Grant Flower guiding them to victory with 70 not out.
Somerset are more recent visitors to a Lord’s Final having lifted The Royal London One-Day Cup in 2019 by 6 wickets, with James Hildreth posting an unbeaten 69 from 68 balls.
However, a major red-ball title still eludes the West Country outfit whilst their opponents have proved themselves masters of that format, with County Championship titles in 2017 and 2019.
In the last two years, Somerset have had to settle for the runners-up position in that competition. Last season, they entertained Essex at Taunton in the final match of the campaign needing victory to be crowned Champions for the first time but in a rain-affected match, Essex gained the draw they needed to deny the Cidermen their taste of glory.
Now both teams go head-to-head once more in a winner takes all clash. They arrive at Lord’s with identical group records of 4 wins and 1 draw apiece although Somerset did record more batting and bowling points.