Alastair Cook shines as Essex enjoy best of opening day against Somerset
Alastair Cook holds on to a slip catch (image source: Rex/Shutterstock via The Guardian)

Alastair Cook shines as Essex enjoy best of opening day against Somerset

Former England Test captain took a pair of smart slip catches, before reaching 39 not out on the opening day in Taunton

Tom Hiscott

Former England Test captain Alastair Cook made a strong impression on the opening day of Essex's County Championship fixture with Somerset at Taunton

Cook took a pair of impressive slip catches in the opening session as Somerset were dismissed for 209, before the left-hander reached 39 not out as the visitors closed day one on 60-2, just 149 runs in arrears. 

Somerset lose eight wickets for 101 runs in poor first innings

With the sun shining in Taunton, Somerset opened their season with bat in hand and reached 52 before losing their first wicket with Marcus Trescothick edging a delivery from Ravi Bopara to Cook at first-slip. 

The same combination of bowler and fielder accounted for the wicket of Somerset skipper Tom Abell who fell for just one in his first innings as captain, with Cook grabbing the ball at the second attempt to leave their hosts 54-2. 

Another strong partnership covered the lunch period, before South African Test opener Dean Elgar skipped down the track and was stumped off Ashar Zaidi for 34, before his partner James Hildreth fell just three overs later for 36 off the bowling of Jamie Porter.

Simon Harmer's spin was utilised early by Essex (image source: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

From that moment on, Somerset were on the back foot, and despite 48 from Peter Trego they were dismissed inside 75 overs for just 209. Zaidi finished with 3-17 from 12 overs, while his fellow spinner Simon Harmer took 2-51 after being introduced in the 11th over, with spin set to play a prominent role in the remainder of this fixture.

Cook survives new ball to end day unbeaten

In his first county innings since relinquishing the Test captaincy, Cook looked like a man who still retained his appetite for run scoring. 

There was cloud and rain in the air, but the 32-year-old looked unfazed, hitting seven boundaries in his currently unbeaten 50-ball innings of 39.

Two wickets fell at the other end to give Somerset hope ahead of day two, with Craig Overton bowling Nick Browne for 11, and left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe claiming the wicket of Tom Westley for 10 with the final ball of the day. 

All counties out on the park 

For the first time in 6,420 days, all 18 First-Class counties were playing red ball cricket on the same day thanks to their now being an even number of teams in both divisions. 

At Edgbaston, young seamer Ben Coad maintained his fine start to the season, taking four wickets as Yorkshire restricted Warwickshire to 152-8 on a rain-interrupted opening day in Birmingham

Lancashire's Jordan Clark was the only man to score a century on the opening day of the second round of matches, while Sussex's Jofra Archer was the standout bowler, taking 7-67 as Kent were dismissed for 304 at Hove