While Somerset do not face a Champions League Semi-final second leg sized task over the next three days it is undeniable that they have made the task of progressing to the One Day Cup final considerably harder than it should have been.
After opening the campaign with four straight wins a home tie in either of the knockout rounds was the least we all hoped for, but successive poor performances against Gloucestershire, Middlesex and Hampshire left the Cidermen scrambling for a win on Tuesday to qualify.
The reasons for this abrupt downturn in form are hard to fathom so while the performance against Surrey was, apart from Kent, perhaps their most complete all-round performance questions remain as we travel to Worcester tomorrow.
So, rather than indulging ourselves in some unhelpful navel gazing what do Somerset need to do to progress? In simple terms bat better, the lack of consistency from the top three (where have we said that before) needs to disappear allowing Hildy to come in without the need for a rebuild of the innings and in turn giving a platform for the lower middle order to do what they do best and post a formidable score.
I’m also inclined to be a little worried about the bowling and wouldn’t mind another change but given that both Jack’s are playing a three-day second XI game at present that seems unlikely.
Worcester have proven themselves to be a formidable one-day outfit over the recent past and on their own ground they will be tough to beat. But paradoxically I think the conditions at New Road might suit our bowlers better that Taunton. If we can perform at near our optimum that should be more than enough to progress.
The real disadvantage of finishing third in the group is that, if we progress tomorrow, the daunting prospect of Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge awaits.
Forget the innings victory in the Championship last month, Notts are an entirely different prospect in white ball cricket. Like Somerset they started the competition like a train but they fell away as well with two losses and a no result to just pip Worcestershire to top spot in the North.
Notts batting is the sort that, whatever on your viewpoint, you might want to watch from behind the sofa. It can be destructive and self-destructive in equal measure. Having listened to a good bit of the coverage of Notts in the competition so far it is clear that their supporters are a bag of nerves as to which batting performance they will produce on a given day.
One final consideration, the history of this competition has, in the recent past, seen the group winners fail to progress more often than not making a mockery of the “seeding” group winners receive. So taking that into account my predictions for the knock out stage are as follows:
If Somerset beat Worcestershire I give them the better chance of overcoming Notts on Sunday. Lancashire will see off Middlesex but Hampshire will be too strong leaving us with a Notts or Somerset v Hampshire final.