Quietly Confident

Will Finals Day provide a welcome lift for everyone associated with Somerset Cricket or will the malaise of the last three weeks continue at Edgbaston tomorrow? We report on Lewis Gregory's press conference this afternoon. I have always liked Lewis as a person and a cricketer and talking to him earlier you get a sense that he is just a really nice guy as well as a very focused and talented cricketer

Not my mood (I’m as nervous as a nervous thing) but that of Somerset’s T20 captain Lewis Gregory who did his pre-Finals Day press conference at Edgbaston earlier this afternoon. Lewis is a naturally quiet individual off the field but you get the feeling that he is relishing tomorrow describing it as “one of the days as a player you are desperate to be involved in.

Gregory revealed that he has a partial stress fracture of his lower bac which prevents him from bowling or batting and fielding in the longer format games. I am sure he like all of us will be hoping his back is tested over two games tomorrow and stands up to the demands. He seemed positive though and certainly was more optimistic that Jason Kerr a couple of weeks ago hoping to be back bowling again in January getting ready for next season although it means he will miss out on a winter of franchise cricket.

Gregory puts Somerset’s improvement in this format over the last couple of seasons to the significant improvement in the death bowling, something he expects to be crucial tomorrow, singling out new signing Marchant de Lange for special praise in that regard.

Asked about Max Waller Gregory openly may have been damning with faint praise when he described somerset’s hitherto go-to one day leggie as having been “OK”. It seems unlikely that Max will start in the first game but he may get his chance if Somerset reach the final, a game that traditionally suits spinners.

I asked Lewis if it had been hard this week taking over a squad that both needs to change formats again and is clearly low on confidence. With refreshing honesty Gregory admitted that it had, echoing Andy Hurry’s words earlier in the week about coping with changes in format. But to counter this Lewis stressed that there are a number of players like himself who have not been involved in red ball recently and have been focused on this weekend since the quarter-final. “We are professional cricketers and while it is difficult we should be used to and be able to cope with these changes in format” he adds.

Ben Warren spiked my final question, asking Lewis if he knew when he last batted for Somerset having told the skipper before we spoke to him. Encouragingly Gregory feels he has plenty of runs saved up ready for tomorrow.

Realistically though who knows what tomorrow will bring? In the most unpredictable of all formats the margins are fine and the course of a game can turn on a dropped catch, a missed run out or one good / bad over. Whoever wins two games tomorrow to lift the trophy will be able to look back on not only some outstanding individual performances and some slices of good fortune.

In an all-South finals day if the form of the group phase is repeated Somerset should play Kent in the final but as we all know for counts for little on these occasions. Even more so when the group phase was so long ago.

Hampshire arrive here thanks to their near miraculous run not just to squeak into fourth place on the last day of the group phase but then to come back from the dead against Nottinghamshire in their quarter-final at Trent Bridge. Whether Hampshire will be distracted by the trip to Liverpool next week with a County Championship on their minds or inspired by their recent run of success we can only speculate.

In my mind the game will be decided by Somerset’s batsmen with a little assistance from the toss. Batting first at 11am in September is not a particularly attractive thought but one lessened with the white ball than in the old days of the red ball Gillette Cup. Still I’d prefer to see Somerset chasing in the first game.

If Gregory’s side can get past Hampshire they will face either the strongest bowling side of the four – Sussex, even without Rashid Khan or the most unlikely and unpredictable – Kent. The latter topped the south Group, punching way above their weights and benefitting from their familiarity of the quirky St Lawrence Ground.

Somerset have beaten both Hampshire and Kent already this season while the game with Sussex was washed out. If Lewis is to lift the trophy tomorrow evening I suspect it will be after beating Sussex in the final and that will be a tall order given their envious bowling attack. But for me it is a case of getting to the final, I am more nervous about the Hampshire game that I am of either Kent or Sussex, which flies in the face of logic I know.