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Bob Willis Trophy: Five things we learned as Essex win inaugural edition

Essex claimed the title after edging out Somerset at Lord's.

The revised first-class season came to an end as Essex lifted the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy after edging a drawn final against Somerset on first-innings runs.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key takeaways.

Chelmsford is still the home of champions

Essex proved they are one of the most dominant red-ball sides of recent times by claiming their third title in four seasons. Championship wins in 2017 and 2019 proved they could cut it over an extended periods – 14 games in different conditions against different opponents – and this showed they could hold their nerve in a winner-takes-all finale too.

We can get excited about Tom Lammonby

Tom Lammonby celebrates his century at Lord's.
Tom Lammonby celebrates his century at Lord’s (Steven Paston/PA)

It is always advisable not burden a 20-year-old prospect with too many expectations, particularly after just six first-class appearances. But Lammonby looks a seriously intriguing player. He has now reached three figures in each of his last three games, most strikingly against a high-class Essex attack on his first appearance at Lord’s. He fields nicely, bowls part-time seamers at a handy pace and does not lack for confidence. England will be keeping tabs.

The ‘showpiece’ final is an unproven entity

As an idea, pitting the two best sides from a league structure into a one-off decider has plenty going for it. It works well in Australia’s Sheffield Shield and, closer to home, in rugby league. This was not a perfect trial for English cricket – the scheduling meant it was bitterly cold throughout and important time was lost to rain, and the sight of vacant stands at a ground under reconstruction was jarring. If it is to become a fixture of the game, friendlier placement in the calendar and the return of fans are a must.

Craig Overton has proved himself again

England’s seam ranks are fit to bursting at the moment and Overton’s record after four Tests – nine wickets at 44.77 – leaves plenty to be desired. But he is an improved, and still improving, pace bowler. He was the most prolific seamer on the circuit this year, second overall to Essex spinner Simon Harmer, and was named as the competition’s MVP. At 26, he should have enough time to come again in international cricket.

Cook is still class apart

Sir Alastair Cook played a key role in Essex winning the Bob Willis Trophy Final at Lord’s
Sir Alastair Cook played a key role in Essex winning the Bob Willis Trophy Final at Lord’s (Steven Paston/PA)

More than two years after departing the Test scene in a blaze of glory with a farewell century at The Oval, England’s greatest ever run-scorer, Sir Alastair Cook was at it again. His 172 at Lord’s was a majestic knock and elevated the entire occasion. By staying in the county game as he intends to for at least one more campaign, he raises the value of the matches he plays and improves team-mates and opposition with his skill. For now, the inevitable media career and corporate engagements can wait.

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