Victory – The Somerset Way

Another fine bowling performance with Gregory, Davey and the very good iteration of de Lange set this game up for Somerset.

Hampshire v Somerset, T20 South Group, Southampton, May 30th Hampshire 123 all out 20 overs (Davey 3-21, de Lange 2-20, Gregory 2-8) Somerset 124-6 (Lammonby 33, Rossouw 26) by 4 wickets with 25 balls to spare

If you could take Somerset’s first two T20 games of the 2022 season, slung them in some sort of mixer and then looked at the result you’d get a pretty good idea of how this game went even if you’d not seen a ball. Or at least that’s how it seemed when Rossouw and Abell were together and Somerset two thirds of the way to the target in the tenth over. But this is Somerset and add an apparent formality to a pitch that suddenly seemed to offer grip and movement to the bowlers and you’ll probably guess it wasn’t that easy.  Twas ever thus.

In the almost stygian gloom this evening in Southampton Banton and Smeed set off in pursuit of a paltry 124. It seemed immediately obvious that there was a gulf between the two sides with the ball, Somerset had only conceded a solitary wide in the Hampshire innings but Hampshire were wayward from the outset. The greasy ball was a mitigating factor but no more so that Somerset had dealt with in the Hampshire innings.

Tom Banton got the chase underway with a beautifully timed ease behind point which raced away to the boundary while Will Smeed followed suit behind square on the leg side in the opening over. While the conditions had improved a little by the time Somerset began their reply they needed to keep half an eye on DLS. 10 off the first over always helps and 37-0 after four even better. 

Banton was caught behind at the start of the sixth and last over of the powerplay looking to run the ball down to third man (46-1) but Rilee clobbered two extra cover boundaries in the same over so that at the end of the power play Somerset were 56-1, 20 runs and 2 wickets better that the home side.

Will Smeed looked close to his best before he smashed Fuller’s fourth ball to extra cover but there was no respite for the bowlers as Abell guided his first ball to third man for four. At the end of the seventh over Somerset were almost halfway there at 60-2. DLS was virtually out of the equation at this point with the asking rate down below 5.

There was a tension at this point only in so far as the lure of the net run rate. The pragmatist Tom Abell would have been focussed on making sure of the win before thinking about the bigger picture but Rilee Rossouw showed no such reservations as a demonstrated by his six over square leg and almost into the fish and chip double-decker on the concourse. Rillee, carrying on as he had started this season was not to see his new side home over his old perishing at cow corner for 26 when a couple more overs like that would have seen Somerset home. A case of getting a little carried away  or complacent perhaps?

Despite Rossouw’s departure Somerset had batted themselves into a position where only a clatter of wickets could jeopardise the win. But this is Somerset so when Tom Abell was comprehensively bowled by Mason Crane in his first over nerves began to jingle for the faithful. The jingles became louder when Lewis Gregory was lbw to Fuller for 2 (89-5). The always under-estimated Ben Green joined Lammonby and played the sensible supporting role needed. But Lammonby with 33 of 22 (3 fours and a six) allied his huge natural talent to a cool nerve and seemed to be seeing his side home when with just two needed he got a beauty to be caught behind of Nathan Ellis. Green though completed the job a couple of balls later.

A win, three from three but just a little reminder that this format cannot be taken for granted. Thirty more runs to chase would have made it a real ask. But with two home games to come Somerset have a golden opportunity to put one foot into the quarter finals in the first ten days of this competition.

The paucity of the target was due to another fine display in the field with the bowlers all showing great intelligence to use the turgid Rose Bowl surface to great advantage. With the exception of Lewis Goldsworthy who went for 19 in his two overs none of the other six bowlers Tom Abell used cost more than 6 per over. Lammers opened the bowling again and got the prize wicket of McDermott for just 1, who was a stand out in last winter’s Big Bash, forcing his way into the Aussie T20 side. Both McDermott and Donald were caught in the deep by Will Smeed as Hampshire slipped to 6-2. Gregory picked up the prize wickets of Weatherley and Whiteley and Ben Green removed James Vince for 12 by which time the home side had only reached 56 and were at the halfway point of their innings bar one ball.

James Fuller and Liam Dawson attempted to rebuild things but after some success against the slow left arm the return of seam restored normal service. De Lange (the very very good version) removed both and after their partnership of 32 was broken 88-6 declined swiftly to 123 all out. The flexibility Abell had gained with his bowling options having got four overs out of his spinners wasn’t needed with the 2022 death bowling A Team of Josh and Marchant saw things out neatly – the last four overs only cost 20 which in this format you’d settle for all day long.