Somerset head up the M5 today for their third match in this season’s Vitality Blast and their first away from Taunton. In the first two games the cider county showed their Jeckyl & Hyde tendencies having played a part in two comprehensive one-sided affairs. Last Friday Peter Trego starred as today’s hosts, Gloucestershire, were put to the sword but it was a different affair altogether two days later as Somerset were simply mauled by nemesis Kent, being outclassed in all the key areas.
But it was great to be at the CACG last week as the new t20 campaign opened. The sun shone and the crowd gathered and there is simply no better place to be. Talk in the press box was all about par scores on this ground when the wicket is flat and weather fair. To be honest no-one had a firm reply as this is a ground where 200 can be chased down. Captain Lewis Gregory clearly thought he would let the away team dictate the pace as he won the toss and put them in.
Gloucestershire started brightly but Somerset took key wickets at key times. Hammond, Cockbain, Howell and Klinger all made starts but were out before creating any havoc. Higgins and Taylor kept the pace going and, at one stage, it looked like the visitors would have to settle for a score around 160 before a late surge – prompted by some errant bowling – saw them settle at 188 for 6. A par score? Who knows, but it did appear that Somerset had given them about 10-15 runs too many.
Somerset lost Johan Myburgh in the third over but from there it was all plain sailing as the home team cruised home. It was good to see Steve Davies show his class as he and Tregs put on 90 and really forced the advantage. There were cameos from James Hildreth and Corey Anderson but Tregs was a colossus as he struck the winning runs. He even refused to take a single that would have won the game so he could finish with a six. It was a great start.
On Sunday Kent rolled into Taunton and once again were party-poopers. This time Lewis lost the toss and Somerset were asked to bat and never really got going against a very impressive Kent bowling attack. Mybs was out in the first over to Denly and Kiwi international Adam Milne was on the button every ball as Somerset limped to 12 for 2 after 3 overs. West Indian Carlos Brathwaite was jeered for a misfield early on but had the last laugh as he removed both of Friday’s heroes, Davo and Tregs, who struggled to get the ball off the square. Tom Abell and Hildy rallied, adding 68 for the fourth wicket, but Somerset needed Corey to add some fireworks but his undefeated 30 was more laborious than glorious. So what is a par score at Taunton? Well it’s definitely not 159 and a home victory never looked likely. Milne’s four overs went for a miserly 23 and big Carlos took 4 for 21 showing everyone watching how to bowl fast in t20 cricket.
Josh Davey took Denly’s scalp in the 4th over but Bell-Drummond and Kuhn set up their team for an easy win which was achieved with 3-and-a-half overs left. It says something that the champagne moment for me was the lady who took the one-handed catch from a Bell-Drummond six that veered off the media tent. Sometimes you have to doff your cap to the opposition and Kent were far and away the better team on the day, just as Somerset were two days before. Neither Jason Kerr nor Andy Hurry have shied away from the fact that this was not good enough so it will be interesting to see how the team react.
And to highlight what a funny old game cricket is all the above was thrown out of the window last Wednesday. As most of the nation were watching England lose the World Cup semi-final to Croatia Gloucestershire defended 184 to beat Kent by 5 runs. A funny old game indeed.
So tonight Somerset will be hoping to avoid a Friday the 13th horror show and get back to winning ways. Craig Overton is back in the squad and will play if fit which is good news. Whether he replaces brother Jamie or Josh remains to be seen. Other than that I don’t expect many other changes if any. Mybs has played himself into pressure and may be feeling lucky that Tom Banton is with England u19s and Tom Lammonby is injured, as either may have taken his place. He certainly can’t afford another low score this evening.
It’s set to be a great evening up in Bristol. Their crowd will be loud and hostile and our boys will need to raise their game and play without fear. Let’s hope they do.
Somerset squad: Tom Abell, Corey Anderson, Dom Bess, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Ben Green, Lewis Gregory (c), James Hildreth, Johann Myburgh, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Peter Trego, Roelof van der Merwe, Max Waller.