Earlier, all of Somerset’s bowlers contributed to restrict the cider county’s local rivals to 165 for 8 on a slow pitch.
Derby days are one of the highlights of the county cricket calendar, and would certainly be missed if a franchise system came to fruition. The West Country rivals made a strong case for the county system here, serving up a good contest is which several county pros came to the fore.
After losing the toss for the fifth time out of six in this year’s t20 Blast, Alfonso Thomas’s side were asked to bowl first under sunny skies.
Leg byes, a wide and three overthrows started the Gloucs innings, before Peter Handscomb’s poor form continued with an edge behind to ‘keeper Michael Bates (making his t20 debut for Somerset in place of Marcus Trescothick) off Lewis Gregory for a duck.
Michael Klinger, coming into this match in stunning form after recently hitting an incredible three centuries in four t20 games, hit Gloucs’ first boundary with a six off Gregory. However, it was clear from the off that this wasn’t the easiest pitch for timing the ball, and even after an over of 15 at the end of the powerplay Gloucs could only muster 37 for 1 while the fielding restrictions were in place.
Gregory took the second wicket to fall too – Ian Cockbain caught by Waller at deep mid-wicket for a useful 34 (21 balls, 3×4, 1×6).
With the ball Waller excelled too, conceding no boundaries in his four-over spell (4-0-21-1) for the second time this season. He took a wicket too, having Geraint Jones caught by Bates for 1. In the previous over, Jim Allenby had gotten rid of the dangerous Klinger for 44 (39 balls, 2×4, 2×6), with James Hildreth taking a well-judged catch on the leg-side boundary.
Abdur Rehman took his first t20 wicket for Somerset thanks to a good diving catch from Thomas at mid-on to dismiss Kieran Noema-Barnett for 6, and with three overs to go Gloucs were 123 for 5.
But some loose bowling in the last three overs from Sohail Tanvir (who had bowled tightly until then) and Alfonso Thomas allowed Gloucs to reach a competitive 165 for 8.
James Fuller and Jack Taylor judged the right balls to hit well and made useful cameos of 14 and 24 respectively as the final three overs went for 42 runs. Max Waller was back in the action for the dismissals of both men, taking two more good catches to add to his reputation as one of the best fielders in the country.
Still, it was a very gettable target for Somerset, and Allenby and his new opening partner Myburgh got the innings going with a flurry of boundaries. Allenby skied one to David Payne off Craig Miles for 27, but Somerset were well on top after the powerplay at 59 for 1.
Myburgh continued to pick the gaps with some classy boundaries, while new batsman Peter Trego rotated the strike well before he was caught by Payne off Tom Smith for 8 going for a sweep.
Surprisingly, Somerset sent in Tanvir at four, most likely to have a right-hand-left-hand combination at the crease. He has batting pedigree, having struck a fifty from just 18 balls in last year’s Caribbean Premier League, and here he struck two fours before being caught off a leading edge by Noema-Barnett off Benny Howell for 13.
With Myburgh’s strike-rate tailing off a little and new batsman Hildreth taking time to settle, Somerset began to fall a little behind the run rate. The requirement was nearing ten an over with four to go, but Myburgh hit two vital fours off Payne to release some of the pressure. However, it was back on in the next over when he was caught by Handscomb off Smith for 63 (50 balls, 9×4).
Somerset needed 19 from the final two overs. Payne bowled the penultimate over, which started with a dot. But Tom Cooper, who hit 84 not out against Glamorgan last week, then struck two priceless sixes to bring the requirement down to 7 from 9 deliveries. Last ball of the over Cooper was caught at third man going for the win, but 5 from the final over looked doable.
And so it proved. New batsman Gregory nudged a single first ball, before James Fuller bowled successive wides. A dot and a single followed, before Gregory pulled a full toss over midwicket to win the game for Somerset with two balls to spare. Smith was the pick of the Gloucs bowlers with figures of 4-0-23-2. Remarkably, all thirteen wickets to fall in the match were catches.
Myburgh, who received the man of the match award, said afterwards, “I am obviously very happy and just grateful that I got the opportunity to bat at the top which I prefer in t20.”
He added, “It was a good all-round performance for the boys. We bowled smartly and used the conditions well and our fielding was good.
“With the bat Jim got us off to a great start, Hildy did well and at the end Coops played a short but important innings for us.”
He concluded, “This was an important match for us after a good win in the Championship, and now we have won again in the t20, so hopefully we can take that momentum into the next few games.”
Momentum is certainly the name of the game for Somerset now, as they will hope to put together a string of victories after a stop-start t20 Blast so far. Currently they sit sixth, but have games in hand over some teams. Their next match in this competition is at Uxbridge next Friday, where they take on eighth-placed Middlesex. New Zealander Luke Ronchi will be available for the first time for Somerset as Sohail Tanvir leaves for the CPL.