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Essex champions after rain-hit draw with Somerset

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LONDON (Reuters) – Essex won their eighth English County Championship title and second in three years after a rain-hit final match against Somerset ended in a draw at Taunton on Thursday.

Somerset needed victory to claim their first county title while the visitors required just a draw to secure the crown and, after the hosts were bowled out for 203, Alastair Cook’s patient 53 off 148 balls put Essex in control of the match.

Somerset spinners Jack Leach and Roelof van der Merwe sparked a collapse as the visitors were bowled out for 141 but, after Somerset chose to forfeit their second innings, former England captain Cook made 30 not out and the teams shook hands on a draw to leave Essex 11 points clear at the top.

“When I got out I thought I was going to have another bat today,” Cook said. “No disrespect to our lower order but it was difficult out there.

“I’ve got experience in the sub-continent and managed to find a method out there, but not all of them do.”

Former England opening batsman Marcus Trescothick came on as a substitute fielder for Somerset in the closing stages for his final appearance before retiring.

The 43-year-old, who played nearly 400 first-class matches and scored over 26,000 runs, received a standing ovation to mark his 26-year career.

“I don’t think any words can do him justice,” Somerset captain Tom Abell said.

“It’s an impossible void to fill, a great player for Somerset and England. More importantly, he’s a great person.”

Essex, who lost only one match all season, became the first team to accomplish the double of County Championship and T20 Blast titles in one season. They beat Worcestershire by four wickets in the T20 final on Saturday.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ed Osmond)

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