Essex won the Division One County Championships for the second time in three years as they held on for a tense draw against Somerset. (Image credit: Getty Images)
England cricket's landscape has witnessed massive changes in the summer of 2019. The cricket summer, which began on April 5 finally concluded on September 26 and it witnessed drama at each and every stage. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 was won by England in the most dramatic circumstances when the final against New Zealand went to the super over and even that was tied. The hosts were declared winners due to a superior boundary count. In the Ashes contest, Ben Stokes and their resillience ensured England did not lose the series but they had to relinquish the Urn after a 2-2 draw, the first time in 47 years a series was drawn.
Even in the County Championships, there was drama. Essex won the Vitality Blast Twenty20 contest in dramatic circumstances against Worcestershire off the last ball. Even in the county championships, Essex were made to wait till the final hour of the cricket summer as they held on to a tense draw against Somerset in Taunton to be crowned the Division One County Champions for the second time in three years.
The final match of the season saw Somerset needing to win outright against Essex at their County Ground and they were determined. Somerset chose to bat and they were reeling thanks to a fine spell from Simon Harmer and Samuel Cook, who took five and four wickets apiece. Roelof van der Merwe smashed 60 off 51 balls with three fours and four sixes as Somerset reached 203 all out. However, inclement weather for the remaining two days meant that Essex would be crowned the champions and the season would end on a damp note.
Heading into the final day, Essex being crowned champions was a mere formality. Sir Alastair Cook scored a fifty and his stand of 67 with Tom Westley put Essex in a strong position. However, Jack Leach and van der Merwe ran through the rest of the batting and Somerset had a chance. Leach finished with 5/32 and van der Merwe ended with 4/41 as Essex were bowled for 141, giving Somerset a 63-run lead.
However, the match tension reached it's peak when Somerset decided to forfeit the second innings, setting Essex a target of 63 in 16 overs. With the bowlers at their peak, it was felt that Somerset had momentum and they would run through the batting. Their hopes increased when Dom Bess got the wicket of Nick Browne for 10. However, Cook once again stonewalled with Westley and Essex reached 45/1 after 18 overs before a draw was agreed. Essex thus became the first County to win the T20 and First Class title in the same year. The match also brought an end to former England international Marcus Trescothick's cricket career and his two-decade long association with Somerset.
With the way how the England season panned out in 2019, it was little wonder and fitting that the County Championships would be decided in the final hour of the summer. In the end, Somerset's loss to Hampshire when Kyle Abbott took 17 wickets in the match proved to be very costly.