Vitality Blast, South Group, Cardiff – Somerset 181-2 (18 overs, Banton 64, Trego 47*, Babar Azam 35, Hildreth 24) beat Glamorgan 180-5 (20 overs, Van Der Merwe 2-17) by 8 wickets
Tom Banton, Somerset’s Tom Banton is a very special talent. We have known this for a while but have tried to temper our excitement for fear of over-burdening young Tom with expectation. But I can wait no more.
Banton was a pivotal figure in the Somerset batting line up in the 50 over cup success with two hundreds and an eye catching 69 in the final. Last evening, alongside his new opening partner, Barbar Azam he guided Somerset to a comfortable victory in their opening T20 Blast game at Cardiff.
He is at that stage of his career when stats don’t do him justice, but he is already averaging over 30 with a best of 79 and 4 fifities in the championship from just 8 games and the trend is definitely upward, a pair of 70s against Hampshire at the end of June was followed by a battling 63 at Headingley in a losing cause on Monday. You get the feeling that something very big is just around the corner in red ball cricket for Tom
But last evening Banton was sensational. Opening the batting with Somerset’s newest recruit Barbar Azam Banton utterly dominated an opening partnership of 98 in 51 balls. Now Barbar is no ordinary T20 exponent, he is currently ranked number one in the world among international T20 batsmen.
And Barbar was none too shabby last evening his 35 took only 23 balls before he was first out. From the first over Banton set about the not inconsiderable task of chasing 181 to win on a Cardiff pitch renowned for being low and slow as if it was the easiest thing in the world. The power play was carnage, 75-0 in 6 overs. He “ramped” two sixes reversed pulled one of the Glamorgan seamers and then when, out of desperation the hosts tried slow left arm in the last over of the power play he slog swept for a six so big it was probably still going when the sun set!
In total his 64 off 34 balls included 5 fours and 5 sixes. In 40 minutes he won the game for Somerset, leaving Peter Trego and James Hildreth, with 47* and 24* respectively,
to coast home with 2 overs to spare. A huge margin in the short form.
Perhaps the most telling element of Banton’s innings was the way he made it all look so easy. Great players do that. Somerset supporters of my vintage will remember how Viv Richards would seem to have all day to select his shot and find the gap in the field while other fine players around him were being hurried for pace.
Babar soon realised that all the pressure was off him, that all he had to do was play his normal game and support Banton. That in itself is the greatest testament to Somerset’s young wicketkeeper batsman’s performance last evening.
I would not be surprised if Somerset, at some point in this T20 campaign get near 300. That may sound like madness but consider this. Banton’s and Barbar added 75 in the first six overs. If they had continued at that rate that’s exactly 250. If the pair of them stayed together I can’t imagine, even allowing for the power-play effect, they would slow down their rate of scoring!
And all this should be digested in the context of Tom’s T20 experience to date. It is easy, half was through his breakout season to forget how raw Banton is. Just four career appearances before yesterday, two in 2017 and two in 2018, a highest score of 29* at the other end from the Johann Myburgh carnage against Essex.
Banton is not finished item yet, far from it. Heaven help county bowlers when he is. But