Royal London One Cup: Somerset v Sussex – Taunton, 10 August, 2014
Somerset 193-8 off 33 overs (CA Ingram 72, NRD Compton 42, JC Hildreth 42*, Yasir Arafat 5-36) lost to Sussex 189-3 off 29 overs (MW Machan 47* EC Joyce 46*, LJ Wright 42, CD Nash 30, MJ Leach 2-21) by seven wickets under the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Ex Hurricane Bertha arrived as predicted in the south west on Saturday night, bringing with it plenty of rain and strong winds.
But it was Somerset’s cricketers who found themselves in the eye of the storm on Sunday as Sussex’s Yasir Arafat took five wickets for 36 against his old county. The first two of those wickets, the prize scalps of Marcus Trescothick and Peter Trego came off consecutive balls in only the second over of the day to put Somerset on the back foot from the start.
Batting conditions were very difficult early on, and with only 5.1 overs possible amid the morning showers, the match was eventually reduced to 33 overs a side after a couple of hours’ delay.
Once play resumed at 1.45pm, Colin Ingram, first in partnership with Nick Compton and then with James Hildreth, started to rebuild the Somerset innings and take the attack to the Sussex bowlers. At 157-3 in the 27th over, the hosts looked on course for a target well in excess of 200.
But once Ingram was out, Somerset completely lost momentum as five wickets fell for 36 in 6.1 overs. Arafat took three of those wickets in the final over and Somerset finished on a below par total of 193-8.
Then, to make things worse for Somerset, somewhat inexplicably under the Duckworth-Lewis rules, Sussex were asked to score four runs less than their hosts had managed in their innings.
Sussex got off to a flier. Within 12 overs, they already had half of the required total on the board, thanks to some wayward bowling from Somerset and an 86-run partnership in 10 overs from the dangerous Luke Wright and Chris Nash.
The loss of three quick wickets and a superb spell of tight bowling from Jack Leach, well supported by Craig Meschede, then pegged back the Sussex advance and offered Somerset some hope.
But with plenty of overs in hand, skipper Ed Joyce and Matt Machan kept calm heads and saw their side home with 24 balls to spare, taking 30 runs off the last two overs they faced.
With rain preventing play from starting on time at 10.30am, the match had already been reduced to 47 overs a side by the time Trescothick and Compton attempted to start their innings at 11am. They had got no further than the middle though, when showers forced them off before a ball was bowled.
When they returned at 11.40am, they were soon in trouble as Tres played on, trying to leave a delivery from Arafat. Next ball Tregs was adjudged to have got an edge down the leg side and was given out caught behind – a decision Pete clearly disagreed with. Somerset were 3-2. A few overs later, the rain returned and Somerset returned to the pavilion in disarray at 10-2.
Eventually the game resumed, with the match reduced to 33 overs a side and Somerset had to adapt their approach to a shorter game.
Ingram and Compton decided to be aggressive, the South African signalling his intent early on by hitting Arafat for two fours in the first over after the resumption.
The pair kept the scoreboard moving with plenty of ones and twos, but also taking the attack to the Sussex bowlers.
Among the shots was a Compton top-edged sweep on one knee for a four which almost cleared the ropes for six and a more conventional pull by the same batsman off Chris Liddle for another boundary. Ingram unfurled a lovely cover drive off Sussex spinner Will Beer for four and next over swept him for six.
Together they put on 96 in 18 overs at a rate of 5.33 per over and did an excellent job at seizing back the initiative after those early wickets.
But then after bowling short, Liddle pitched one up and trapped Compton lbw for 42. It was a debatable decision with many onlookers convinced it was going down leg. Compo had faced 55 balls and struck four boundaries. Somerset were 99-3 off 19.2 overs, still an excellent platform for the rest of their innings.
Joined by Hildreth, Ingram kept up the attack, driving Liddle for four to bring up his half-century and take Somerset past 100 in the 20th over.
The pair put on 58 runs in 7.4 overs at a run rate of 7.56 and Somerset were well set for a big score, when an excellent throw in from the deep by Liddle to Sussex keeper Ben Brown accounted for Ingram as he was run out for 71. He had faced 73 balls, having hit 7 fours and 1 six. It was a fine innings and the third half-century of the competition for the South African, who’s making a good impression during his brief stay with the club.
Thereafter Somerset’s innings seemed to stall as Arafat returned to the attack and the other Sussex seamers kept things tight at the other end. Alex Barrow played on first ball to Steffan Piolet and Somerset were 158-5 off 27.2 overs. Needing to accelerate, Somerset could only get one boundary away in the final six overs – a straight six down the ground from Lewis Gregory off Lewis Hatchett.
Gregory and Hildreth’s 34-run stand in 29 balls was, therefore, mainly comprised of ones and twos. With an over to go they had taken the score to 192-5, needing a big last over to post a competitive score.
Arafat though had other ideas. Off the first ball of the 33rd and final over, Gregory was caught behind for 18 off an attempted scoop shot he had intended to hit over third man. Next ball Tim Groenewald was caught at deep fine leg, attempting to take on a surprise bumper. The batsmen crossed and Hildreth saw off the hat-trick ball by running a single. The next two deliveries were dot balls before Craig Meschede was bowled off the final delivery by Arafat for 0.
Set a revised target of 189 to win off 33 overs under the Duckworth-Lewis rules, Sussex wasted no time as Chris Nash and the in-form Luke Wright, desperate to press his case for an England recall, tucked into some wayward Somerset bowling.
Alfonso Thomas went for 20 from his first two overs, 16 of them from his second in the form of a six, a four and five wides. Gregory conceded 25 off three overs, including being smashed over the slips for four by Nash.
Groenewald also received the treatment, going for 22 off his two overs, being greeted by Wright depositing him into cow corner for six.
There were a couple of chances. A good shout for lbw from Gregory against Nash was given not out by Umpire Cook and when Compton failed to hold onto a hard chance at backward point given by Nash off Meschede, it appeared as if it was going to be Sussex’s day.
But an inspired bowling change by Tres soon appeared to have changed the course of the match. The introduction of Jack Leach into the attack, bowling in tandem with Meschede, immediately dried up Sussex’s scoring.
It was a measure of the control that the pair exerted that Sussex began to take risks and lost three quick wickets.
Only three runs had come off the first five balls of the 10th over, when Nash tried to run Meschede down to third man and set off for a single. Luke Wright rightly sent him back and a superb piece of fielding by Barrow, throwing off balance at the stumps ran the Sussex opener out. Nash had made 30 off 34 balls with four fours and a six off Thomas.
Four balls later, Leach claimed the huge wicket of Wright, caught and bowled as he pushed down the wicket. Wright had scored 42 off 32 balls and struck six fours and one six. Sussex were now 88-2 off 10.4 overs
That brought two batsmen to the crease on 0 in Joyce and Craig Cachopa, the latter fell shortly afterwards for just 5 when he needlessly went after Leach, only to sky him down the ground to Gregory, who took an excellent catch running back. At the end of that over, a wicket maiden, the spinner had figures of 3-1-5-2. Sussex were 95-3 off 12.4 overs and it was surely game on.
In all Leach and Meschede bowled nine overs in tandem and conceded just 29 runs while three wickets fell. Leach finished with figures of 7-1-21-2 and could have had three wickets, had Barrow not fumbled a stumping chance offered by Machan.
However Joyce knew that thanks to the quick-fire start to their innings by Wright and Nash, Sussex had plenty of time and wickets in hand and that he and Machan could bide their time.
They were assisted by a bit of luck; Machan particularly seemed to be living a charmed life.
First Umpire Cook turned down a very tight lbw shout by Groenewald against the Sussex man. The ball, similar to the one which Compton was given out to in Somerset’s innings, was possibly going down legside.
Machan’s next bit of luck was that missed stumping chance after he came down the wicket to attack Leach. Later he survived a shy at the stumps by Ingram as he ran between the wickets and finally he was put down on the midwicket boundary off Gregory.
Groenewald and Thomas kept things tight for a couple of overs, but by now Joyce and Machan had started to find their groove and attacked the bowlers wherever possible, two fours coming off the 24th over from Groenewald and three each off the the 28th and 29th overs bowled by Gregory and Meschede respectively. A wide from Groenewald off the first ball of the 30th over eventually took Sussex to their target.
Joyce was unbeaten on 46* off 49 balls with five fours, while Machan was left 47* off 52 balls with seven fours. The pair had put on 94 runs in 15.2 overs.
(Somerset bowling figures: Gregory 5-0-47-0, Thomas 5-0-29-0, Groenewald 6-0-48-0, Meschede 6-0-37-0, Leach 7-1-21-2).
Undoubtedly, Somerset had the worst of conditions and the weather. Just five overs were possible in the morning amid a series of rain delays, during which Somerset lost two key wickets.
It made the later Duckworth-Lewis calculation to deduct runs from Sussex’s total all the more puzzling. Somerset set off in those initial five overs thinking they were playing a 47-over a side game. When they returned they were only facing 33.
All that certainly made things tough, but that wasn’t the reason Somerset lost. Ingram, ably supported by Compton and Hildreth, rebuilt and established an excellent platform which should have taken the home side well past 200. Ultimately though, the innings never fulfilled the promise of those partnerships as Somerset lost momentum in the latter stages of their innings. Just one boundary off the final six overs is never going to enough for a side looking to set a competitive total.
If Somerset were going to have a chance of victory, they needed to bowl Sussex out and take early wickets. But some wayward bowling, often too short, saw the visitors quickly on their way.
Leach and Meschede did a fantastic job in establishing control and regaining the initiative, but the damage had been done in those early overs and Joyce and Machan were able to bide their time and take their side home. However, had one of the chances offered by the perpetually lucky Machan been taken, it could still have been a different story.
Afterwards Jack Leach told the official club website: “We are going well in our group and with other teams not playing two points today would have been handy. However I don’t think that we should read too much into today’s game.
“Batting first it was never going to be easy but we don’t want today to stop our momentum in this competition because we are going well. We have got another game in two days’ time which is a chance to put things right and if we win Tuesday we will be in a good position still.
“I think we could have done things better and losing early wickets wasn’t great and then with the rain. Then we didn’t start too well with the ball so if we can improve on these then potentially we can still win those games.”
Talking about his own performance Jack said: “I just love being involved and am taking it a game at a time. I have had to wait to my chance to have a go this year and I’m loving the whole experience.
Jack added: “I played at Lord’s on Thursday which was a great experience and then coming back here in front of a home crowd is pretty special as a local lad growing up here. Every time I put on the shirt I’m going to try to do my best for the supporters and its good fun.”
Talking about Somerset’s progress in the Royal London Cup, Director of Cricket Dave Nosworthy told the club website: “We are playing some really good cricket in this competition and the boys have stuck in well. They have identified how to play the game very well and the different phases of our game plan have been executed extremely well at the moment.”
But talking about the Sussex match Nos said: “Yesterday I think we got it wrong. Duckworth Lewis played its role and it was a tough toss to lose etc, but there are no excuses they were better than us on the day so we need to move forward from that.”
With ex Hurricane Bertha making its way across the country, the only completed game on Sunday was the one at Taunton. Teams elsewhere all took one point each as they watched the rain fall.
Despite their defeat though, Somerset remain in second place in what’s becoming a very tight group B.
Somerset and Nottinghamshire both have 7 points, two behind leaders Kent on 9. Somerset are just ahead of Notts, thanks to a higher run rate, but the East Midlands county have a game in hand. Sussex’s win against Somerset sees them move up to fourth on 6 points.
Somerset’s next game is against Glamorgan at Taunton at 10.30am tomorrow (Tuesday).
Somerset: ME Trescothick*, NRD Compton, PD Trego, CA Ingram, JC Hildreth, AWR Barrow†, L Gregory, TD Gronewald, CAJ Meschede, AC Thomas, MJ Leach
Sussex: CD Nash, LJ Wright, C Cachopa, EC Joyce*, MW Machan, BC Brown†, Yasir Arafat, SA Piolet, WAT Beer, CJ Liddle, LJ Hatchett