That’s More Like It

7th August 2019

T20 Blast South Group Somerset 225-6 Azam 56, Abell 45, Byrom 44, Banton 39 beat Essex 111 all out (Van der Merwe 5-32) by 114 runs

The calls among many Somerset fans for wholesale changes to the side in this must win game did not influence Jason Kerr, who made only one change replacing Jamie Overton with Tim Groenewald.

Kerr was rewarded by as comprehensive a victory as it is possible to achieve returning from Chelmsford with a handsome 111 run victory. The win moves Somerset back into close contention for an away quarter-final place but there is still a lot to be done. Tantalisingly a win at Southampton on Friday would put Somerset above their hosts and with momentum for the next two home games.  

A superb all-round batting performance was, for the first time this campaign, backed up by a strong bowling and fielding performance. This was a display that was both gratifying and frustrating in equal measure leaving us wondering what might have been in the group but offering a glimpse of what this side can still achieve in the Blast. 

Tom Abell won the toss and, in a departure from his recent approach, decided to bat first. A decision which from the 7pm start paid dividends for the visitors. Remarkably the Somerset innings was one in which the end of the power play or the fall of wickets made no difference to the scoring rate. Tom Banton was exceptional at the start of the innings departing in the 5thover for 39 off just 17 balls by which time Somerset were past 50.

There is the distinct possibility that if Banton hangs around for the majority of the 20 overs all kinds of records will tumble. He is an outstanding talent who, when he realises he actually has time in this format, could propel his side near to 300. At present he is still prone to get carried away with his blistering starts and feel compelled to keep going at the same rate. He will learn, quickly, that he can afford to be a little more circumspect.

James Hildreth departed first ball but Tom Abell joined Babar Azam in adding 79 in a ball under 8 overs. Abell batted beautifully for 45 with 3 sixes and 3 fours before being stumped off the Australian leggie Adam Zampa. Abell’s first 50 in this format was tantalisingly close again.

With almost 8 overs to go there was the danger that, as on Sunday, the middle order would squander the platform but Eddie Byrom, after a scratchy start and with the benefit of a ridiculous drop by Mohammad Amir was able to reprise his innings of Friday. This time he added 44 off just 22 balls and saw the total to 191 with three overs to go.

Babar Azam had departed in the 16thover for 56. Yet again demonstrating his class and orthodoxy even in the frenetic surroundings of a modern era T20 game. Compared to Banton, Abell and Byrom his scoring rate seems pedestrian but he rattled along again at 143 runs per 100 balls. He has now passed 300 runs in this campaign at an average of 52 and a scoring rate of just under 150, further evidence of his remarkable consistency and value to this Somerset side.

There was just enough time for Craig Overton to clump 2 sixes off the 4 balls he received (strike rate 350!) adding 27 in 10 balls with Tom Lammonby.

Somerset’s total was considered by the locals to be 40 to 50 above par for Chelmsford this season. Requiring over 11 an over Essex’s openers Cameron Delport and Tom Westley set off in a way that suggested this was a far better surface than Chelmsford had previosuly produced.

At the end of the power play Essex were only 8 runs behind Somerset but the asking rate had already risen to over 12 with both openers having been dismissed. Tim Groenewald and Craig Overton the successful bowlers.

Somerset’s fielding was much more like what we have come to expect with Tom Abell leading by splendid example with a superb catch to dismiss Delport. Whatever Abell can do in the field Max Waller can match and he was the fielder who accounted for Westley. 

Roleof’s first four balls went for 14 but he finished with the wicket of Wheater (c Hildreth) and a dot ball to limit the damage. Max Waller’s next over was an almost carbon copy. Starting with a 6 and a 4 but then picking up the wicket of Lawrence who departed implying from his body language that he was none too pleased with the pleasantries that it appeared the Somerset fielders adorned his departure with. 

It got even better in Roleof’s next over with ten Doeschate being superbly caught by the skipper, Bopara being caught behind of a skier and Paul Waller falling lbw. In the space of 7 balls Essex had subsided from 87-3 to 89-7. Harmer followed in Max’s next over for 2 by which time the asking rate was up to over 14.

The formalities were duly completed before the end of the 13thover with the spinners combining for 8 wickets (Waller 3-26). Comprehensive does not begin to do this result justice and maybe, just maybe, Somerset have declared intent beyond this format and this month to the Championship finale at Taunton in late September.

#DaretoDream