LONDON: Eddie Byrom played the innings of his career by hitting 117 of Somerset s 301 to take the upper hand over Essex on day two of the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lords.
Byrom came into this showpiece with a top-score of 30 in the competition and an average of just 17 but ended his knock a potential match-winner of the finale to the shortened county season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Play had resumed with matters firmly in the balance, Somerset on 119 for four, and Byrom seized the initiative in tandem with England s Craig Overton, who struck a vibrant 66 in a stand worth 127.
Sam Cook continued to impress for Essex after removing both openers on day one, taking out the dangerous Steve Davies in the only breakthrough of the morning session and returning to complete figures of five 76.
However, gradually Essex lost their way, with Overton finding the ropes with some hard blows and Byrom dealing particularly well with off-spinner Simon Harmer.
The 23-year-old Zimbabwean, who holds an Irish passport, completed his century just after lunch with the empty ground soon coming to life with roars of approval from the Somerset balcony.
The weather turned again to prevent any further progress, with the covers on and the players off for more than two-and-a-half hours.
When play resumed, Essex relied on the new ball to change their fortunes after 90 overs.
Jamie Porter made sure it did just that, trapping Overton lbw with the fourth delivery of his spell, while Cook finally found a way past Byrom, who was given after being hit on the knee-roll.
He completed his five-for when Lewis Gregory was hit on the back leg swiping messily across the line.
After 19 wicketless overs Harmer wrapped up the innings, skittling Jack Leach and Jack Brooks with successive balls.
Alastair Cook and Nick Browne made their way to the middle to face three overs but the umpires decided against resuming due to bad light.
An outstanding century by @EddieByrom 👏👏
Will it prove to be a match-defining innings?
— County Championship (@CountyChamp) September 24, 2020