George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Somerset 239 for 5 (Azhar 60, Lammonby 59, Davies 48*) trail Warwickshire 367 (Hain 83, Briggs 53, Overton 5-88) by 128 runs
If Warwickshire do go on to clinch the LV= Insurance County Championship title in the coming days, they will owe much to Danny Briggs.
Briggs had only taken four wickets in the previous two seasons at Sussex - they didn't pick him for any first-class cricket in 2020 - but Warwickshire, looking for a replacement for Jeetan Patel, were keen to secure a spinner whom they could rely upon in all formats. They reasoned that Briggs would bowl dry in first innings, become dangerous in second innings and contribute in other ways with his improved batting and positive, calm head in the dressing room. He has delivered on all fronts. It has proved one of the signings of the year.
Even before play, Warwickshire had recognised Briggs' value. Ashley Giles, something of legend round these parts, had been asked to present him with his county cap. But Briggs confirmed his value wonderfully on the second day of this game. Having made a table-turning half-century in the morning, he then snared a couple of vital wickets on a pitch which remains flat and slow. That the first of these was claimed with an outstanding, one-handed catch only underlined his all-round worth.
It looked, for a while, as if Warwickshire had made a fearful hash of their bid to gain a fourth batting bonus point. Resuming on the second morning requiring 67 more runs from 14 overs with six wickets in hand, they somehow contrived to lose five wickets in 10 overs for the addition of 35 runs.
That left Warwickshire's final pair requiring 28 more runs from 23 balls to secure the vital point. Eventually reducing that to 11 from the final over before the 110-over cut-off, Briggs struck the first ball - something of a wide half-volley if truth be told - through extra-cover for four, before late-cutting the next to the backward point boundary. When he flicked the third ball off his legs for six, he had not only performed a passable impression of Sir Viv Richards but taken his side to 350 (and that fourth bonus point) with three deliveries to spare. In all, the over (bowled by the unfortunate Jack Brooks) cost 20 and helped Briggs to a 29-ball half-century. It was his third of the season, having only twice previously reached 50 in first-class cricket.
None of this meant Warwickshire were assured of the title. But it did mean their destiny was within their own hands. And it did mean that, if they win, having also taken maximum bowling points, they will be county champions.
"I've loved my time here and the opportunities I've been given," Briggs said later. "I suppose I had been pigeon-holed as a white-ball specialist at Sussex. But I always wanted to play all formats. I just want to play as much as possible. I'm too young to think about giving up a format.
"We have a lot of hard work ahead of us here. But if you'd told us at the start of the season that we would be in with a chance of the trophy with only two days to go, we would have bitten your hand off."
Warwickshire's total - their third highest of a season in which they have failed to reach 400 - didn't look especially impressive once Somerset started their reply. Tom Lammonby, hitting the ball with unusual power, looked especially dangerous in depositing Chris Woakes through the covers and over mid-wicket on his way to a high-class half-century. Azhar Ali, meanwhile, was all studious defence and determination. It soon became apparent that taking 20 wickets on this surface was likely to prove desperately tough.
It's worth focusing on Lammonby for a moment. He endured a horrendous start to the Championship season; he was out for three ducks in his first four innings and averaged just 13.38 in the nine matches he played in the qualifying stages of the tournament. But he looks a player of enormous talent and here, presented with a decent batting surface, underlined the positive impression he made in scoring three centuries at the end of last season. It is relevant, surely, that last season's first-class cricket was played on relatively good batting tracks from August onwards and that he has found form again on such surfaces in 2021. On such pitches - the sort of pitches encountered at Test level, really - Lammonby looks a player of high potential.
It took Briggs' intervention to get rid of him. Luring Lammonby down the track, Briggs clung on to the sharpest of caught-and-bowled chances with his right hand as the batter drove the ball back at him. With Azhar prodding at a Tim Bresnan outswinger, Tom Abell squared up by one which straightened and Lewis Goldsworthy attempting to hit Briggs off his length and instead finding mid-on, it gave Warwickshire inroads into Somerset's middle-order. The pitch remains flat and, judging by the experience of previous games here this season, is unlikely to deteriorate much so claiming 15 more wickets - and, perhaps, judging a declaration - will prove demanding. The new ball, available in three overs on the third morning, may prove crucial.
Earlier Craig Overton won belated rewards for another excellent spell of bowling. He claimed 5 for 88 - his fourth five-for of the campaign - defeating Michael Burgess, who was also capped on the first day, with something close to an unplayable delivery which took the shoulder of the bat, and soon followed it with Woakes, driving at an outswinger, and Bresnan, who poked another outswinger back to the bowler. With Sam Hain bowled through the gate by one which nipped back without adding to his overnight score, it seemed Warwickshire had squandered their chance.
But Briggs had other ideas. He has already earned a recall to England's white-ball squads this summer - albeit he didn't actually get a game when England were obliged to name a second-string outfit for their matches against Pakistan - and could yet finish it with a Championship winners' medal. He will have played a huge part in the success if it does come to pass.