Vitality Blast Quarter-Final, Taunton, August 26th 2021, Somerset 185-3 (18.1) – Abell 78*, Lammonby 47* beat Lancashire 184-9 – van der Merwe 4-27 by 7 wickets
727 days – that’s how long we have had to wait for a T20 full house at Taunton. It seems like that long since Tom Abell and the other Somerset Galacticos have been allowed to pull on their club’s shirt.
To paraphrase a well-known saying, “you don’t know what you are missing until it’s back”. For those privileged to be at the Cooper Associates County Ground last evening I am sure you are feeling that way today. For all Somerset supporters the joy of having the three Tom’s, Lewis and Roelof back will take time to dissipate. And so it should.
But I’m going to pick out one of that quintet here to focus on. Tom Abell. Anyone who watched the very clever video the club released on Wednesday could not fail to see the emotion is the club captain’s eyes or hear it in his voice as he talked about what playing for Somerset means to him.
Of course we didn’t need such evidence as we all know already that our Tauntonian skipper lives and breathes our club. But I got the sense that his injury and enforced absence has made that fire burn even more fiercely.
The great leaders do not need badges to evidence their authority. They lead by deed not title. Such is the case with Abell, he is not the T20 skipper and is entirely comfortable with that happy to be the loyal member of Lewis Gregory’s side and to contribute with bat and in the field.
But when the time comes to act Tom Abell is galvanised by his desire to lead his county to victory.
Such a time arrived in the third over of Somerset’s innings on Thursday. The good work in the field to haul a Lancashire innings that had threatened to put the game beyond reach was undone by the loss of two quick wickets.
Lancashire’s 184 which was 20 below par suddenly seemed a lot better as Somerset lurched to 12-2. But with Will Smeed for company the first phase of the recovery – to avoid further loss of wickets in the power play was achieved.
Having avoided further damage the pair set about building the platform for the last 8 overs. Wickets in hand, a required rate of under 10 and at least one set batsman was what was required. And the third wicket delivered.
When Smeed departed Somerset needed 102 off one ball leads than 10 overs with Abell pacing his contribution beautifully. Joined by Tom Lammonby the fourth wicket pair reached the target with 11 balls to spare, their unbroken century stand taking exactly 50 balls. A victory margin that in modern T20 terms is as comfortable as it gets.
There will be those that point to Lancashire being without five of their first-choice T20 side. And those who will find other things to complain about. But do not let them detract from the achievement of reaching another finals day.
And especially do not let anything dilute the pride this young Somerset side and especially it’s leader gives each and every one of us