Choice of game
I don't get the chance to go to Taunton very often and hadn't been there yet this year. I managed to convince a friend to go with me for her first live cricket match.
It's hard to pick out one individual with either bat or ball from Somerset. It was very much a team effort.
One thing I'd change
While I was disappointed that Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler were away with the England squad, it was definitely the injury to Marcus Trescothick I would have reversed. It is always great to see Tres in full flow, and the ankle problem so early in his innings not only robbed us of a chance to see a wonderful player, it may have severely dented Somerset's County Championship hopes.
Face-off I relished
With Buttler, Kieswetter, Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook not playing for their respective counties, there wasn't really a standout match-up in the game. However, Alfonso Thomas and Steve Kirby against the big-hitting Graham Napier in the Powerplay overs proved to be quite a contest.
Kirby knocking two of Tim Phillips' stumps out of the ground was an impressive sight.
During Somerset's innings, the bulk of the fielding down by us was done by Phillips and Adam Wheater. About half a dozen drunk lads were chanting at them to "give us a wave", which both players ignored.
In Essex's innings, substitute Alex Barrow was fielding near us, and was, as my friend pointed out, in the action a lot. He took one very good catch, and a couple of lapses apart, fielded extremely well.
Shot of the day
There were a couple of well-hit sixes from Wheater, but the shot of the day came from Napier, who somehow managed to cover-drive a delivery from Murali Kartik for six with nothing other than timing and wrist work.
I carried my sun hat, my hoodie (guess which one got more use!) and a copy of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, which fortunately wasn't required.
The County Ground was very nearly full, which was not too surprising when you consider Somerset were fighting for a semi-final place. Other than the guys to the right of us, the crowd was pretty sedate, enjoying a competitive match. They were almost completely behind Somerset, but there was plenty of respect given to the good performances by Essex players.
The music played every time there was a four, six or wicket was an incredibly bizarre mix of modern (the Somerset batsmen came out to Tinie Tempah), old ("Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys), and just plain odd (Chesney Hawkes' "The One and Only"). My friend and I had a lot of fun trying to guess the songs despite having to contend with the incomprehensible PA system. My favourite choice was "I Will Survive" for one of the dismissed Essex batsmen. I think the irony was intentional.
During the interval there was some kind of mascot race, which thankfully I missed as I was getting food.
The game was a somewhat scrappy affair. Somerset struggled without their big players and did well to post a competitive total. After a fast start, Essex's top order collapsed, and though they were in the game pretty much all the way through, they will be disappointed they couldn't get closer to Somerset's total.
I've experienced better atmospheres at Taunton, perhaps this was due to the T20 final loss on Saturday, but the game was interesting and my friend said she would like to go to another game next year. I would call that a success.
Marks out of 10
8. A decent game and a nice way to spend a Bank Holiday Monday.
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Paul Oxenbury is a third-generation Somerset fan who is constantly irritated by people asking why he supports Somerset when he lives in Gloucestershire. An avid watcher of the game, his playing days were cut short due to a cruel lack of ability. His one appearance for Nine Elms CC resulted in a six-ball duck and an immediate retirement from all forms of cricket. He is a writer for the American fan site Bleacher Report.