Had Enough Now

Cricket is a game of bat and ball played over a variety of formats which at the end of most seasons Somerset County Cricket Club contrive to come second. Often in the most extraordinary circumstances.

The Final Kent 167-7 (van der Merwe 3-19, Cox 58*) beat Somerset 142-9  (Smeed 43) by 25 runs.

It really is almost too much. Somerset put you through the wringer of emotions and managed to run the full gamut not just once but twice on finals day this year. Having come back from the dead in the semi-final they appeared to have taken control of the final deep into Kent’s innings before allowing Jordan Cox to lead the plunder of 56 in the last four overs.

And then in the run chase they allowed themselves to be bamboozled by Kent’s “leg spinners”, contriving to lose their wickets in the most in the most extraordinary circumstances. But it matters for nought. Somerset finish runners up yet again.  

I’d love to have it in my heart to be able to say well done Kent but I can’t. I might have softened in 48 hours but I still don’t see how this Kent side continue to do so well in t20 cricket. Sorry to be a sore loser, I try not to be but on this occasions, beaten by Kent, again, in a final, again I can’t find it in my heart to be the good person and say well done. Judge me if you wish but that’s me being honest.

Kent arrived at the final having easily beaten my favourites for the title, Sussex with Daniel Bell-Drummond’s 82 proving the decisive contribution. After a solid first five overs of the power play DBD and Zak Crawley had easily accumulated 44. Roelof was called on to bowl the final over with the fielding restrictions in place and, in almost identical fashion to the quarter-final he delivered removing Bell-Drummond to a catch at mid-wicket by Will Smeed off a pull that was travelling like a tracer bullet and then next ball Joe Denly was caught even more superbly by Tom Abell running back from mid on and taking a full-length diving catch.

Abell had only just moved there replacing a clearly suffering Lewis Gregory. The skipper’s back clearly giving him a lot of problems, probably exacerbated by the down time between the 2pm finish of the first semi-final and the 6.45 start of the final.

With Lewis Goldsworthy again contributing with four tight overs the twin slow left armers combined for 4-46 (van der Merwe 3-19). Leaning and Cox had seen off the spinners and were doing no more than stabilising things, to the extent that somerset seemed content tit let them stay there as the final four overs began.

De Lange, who had not bowled at all to this point was trusted with two of those overs and redeemed himself with just 2 coming off the seventeenth over but Craig could not follow up with his last over disappearing for 15. In between Davey had returned and removed Leaning to a nice catch by Green. Darren Stevens ran himself out for 12 off 8 but at the other end Jordan Cox, who had perished first ball in the semi-final was into his stride as the ball appeared to be coming onto the bat much better all of a sudden.

The 150 arrived off the first ball of the last over, entrusted to Josh Davey but his second ball, a lovely yorker resulted in Stewart’s run out. A price worth paying for Kent to get Cox back on strike. Another huge leg side six (his third) took him to 50 off 26 balls which he followed with two offside fours. Again Somerset finished their bowling stint with momentum shifting dramatically against them.

Kent finished with 167, probably you felt around par given the conditions which were becoming increasingly difficult for the bowlers, But yet again the final overs had gone for over 50 (56 this time) and Somerset were chasing 20+ more than they should have been. You sensed it was too much.

Tom Banton who has so often feasted off Kent’s bowling went second ball but this time Coach Kerr opted not to repeat the pinch-hitting number 3 approach. But Lewis Goldsworthy came and went before the end of the second over 3-2. And the required run rate already above 9. 

Denly’s retention for a second over gave the Somerset innings some much-needed momentum. Two Tom Abell 4s and a Will Smeed 6 contributing to a healthy 16. 

Tom Abell and Will Smeed batting sensibly, a period of virtually risk-free batting with clever placement and superb athletic running using the big gaps in the expansive Edgbaston outfield interspersed with a couple of big overs seemed to be getting things back on track but Abell could t repeat his semi-final 50 caught off a sliced uppercut off the dolly mixtures of Ahmed for 26.

At the halfway point it was 71-3 off 10. Smeed 36 at that stage was clearly aware of a need to accelerate and saw his opportunity with the return of Denly for the 11th. A heave to the leg that came off the toe of the bat was well caught by Cox at deep midwicket but Smead was reprieved in the most extraordinary manner and given a maximum as a result of a collision between Cox and Bell-Drummond as the former held the catch but the latter careered into the boundary. Smeed though was unable to capitalise, mishitting to wide mid on in the same over.

Lammonby got a shocker adjudged lbw to a sharply turning ball from Denly which would have hit a point about six inches above and six to the left of Lammers leg stump but that was perfectly OK for umpire Burns. No review available, Somerset’s plight deepened.

But there was no bad luck about Gregory’s dismissal as Jordan Cox jumped beyond the boundary and while still in mid-air palmed the ball back to Milnes who completed the dismissal. And from there it was inevitable as van der Merwe, Overton and Green perished attempting the impossible.

Ironically Marchant de Lange, the most culpable of the Somerset bowlers on the day, hit the last ball for six, as futile an act as there has ever been. Too little too late.

Marchant de Lange – Hugely culpable in both games

Semi-final, Somerset 153-8 (Abell 50, Green 35) beat Hampshire 150 all out by 2 wickets with 2 balls to spare.

Chasing 151 to win the first semi-final Somerset had subsided to 79-6 in the 14th over when skipper Lewis Gregory departed. The T20 skipper and his red-ball counterpart had begun to rebuild the chase from the wreckage of 34-5 (including three in the power play) but with the required run rate over 10 you felt that was it for Somerset’s finals day.

As so often this season all hopes rested it seemed with tom Abell, more so with Ben Green struggling to time anything at the other end. The equation had moved to 48 off 20 balls when Abell was caught in the deep for exactly 50.

But from nowhere Ben Green found his timing and some to clobber 35 off just 18, even more remarkable given he barely hit the ball for his first 10 balls. With 12 needed off 8 balls and the pendulum swinging rapidly in favour of Somerset Green perished and we were down to the two who had carried all before them with the ball for Somerset in the first half of the season.

Craig Overton is we know capable of some very destructive hitting, Josh Davey more cultured and correct not so much. But it was Davey who saw his side over the line with 11 off just three balls, 6-1-4. 

Easy! Home by two wickets with two balls to spare. But the reality is that Somerset should never have been chasing anywhere near 150. After a superb start and a parsimonious middle session Hampshire benefitted hugely from a shocking spell of death bowling from Marchant de Lange. 

Somerset have never played the first semi-final on finals day but it looked like the early start affected Hampshire’s batsmen more than Somerset’s bowlers as Craig Overton and Josh Davey, who shared the opening power play overs took three wickets, including the prized scalp of James Vince for 26.

Vince had already been given a life in the first over when Craig Overton juggled but couldn’t cling on to a looping return catch but big Craig wasn’t to be denied as Banton obliged in the following over. The mantra is that the side losing three wickets in the power play loses far more than they win so before we reached noon Somerset’s bowlers were in the clear ascendancy.

Joe Weatherley, who had batted with such self-control when these two sides met in the Championship early in the season revealed a much more aggressive side to his game. In the company of the redoubtable Liam Dawson the fourth wicket pair were rebuilding albeit slowly when Ben Green (in his only over) comprehensively yorked the England international. 

With the two slow left armers exerting control in the middle overs Hampshire, despite Weatherley’s continued defiance the total at the end of the sixteenth over was 99-5. With an over in hand for Overton two for van der Merwe and three for Ben Green the possibility of chasing something under 130 seemed very real.

But, principally due to the profligacy of de Lange Hampshire were allowed to heave 51 from the final 24 balls. Somerset’s out-cricket, which hadn’t been great degenerated along with the sloppy bowling and, importantly you sensed momentum flipped dramatically. Somerset were hugely culpable yet again with Lewis Gregory inexplicably preferring de Lange to either of the other two for the last over.

Josh Davey picked up two more at the other end so that when Tom Lammonby ran out last man Wheal Hampshire were all out off the last ball of their allotted 20 with at least 20 more than they should have scored.