So that’s that then. Somerset miss out on progressing to the knock-out phase of this year’s one-day cup competition by one point despite chasing down 356 to beat table-topping Hampshire on Wednesday evening. Much to the glee of my new found Twitter “friends” from Kent they progress with Hampshire and Essex.
A disappointing outcome for Somerset, especially given the way the competition started with dominant wins over Surrey and Glamorgan in the first two games. The turning point was the home defeat to Sussex when the frailties that were to haunt us throughout the remainder of the competition first became apparent.
The batting was inconsistent with the opening pair failing to deliver on virtually every occasion. Trego and Hildreth were usually together in the first power play which negated the advantage to the batting side as these two were forced to consolidate. The second failing was that not enough batsmen produced match-winning innings. There were only two hundreds – Hildreth, and Trego and very few scores between 50 and 100 which in the context of the current iteration of the 50-over game is crucial for a team to build match-winning scores.
The bowling was, apart from Surrey, below par on every occasion. I cannot think of any of the other 7 games where the bowlers could walk off feeling they had done a good job as a unit. So while, in the context of the season as a whole, the squad rotation that has taken place should stand us in good stead, there was never a settled methodology in the bowling attack.
But, despite these negatives I’m taking a lot of positives out of the last three weeks. While I’m disappointed we haven’t progressed I feel there were a large number of mitigating factors which, in a competition that is, because of its short-duration, subject to the vagaries of small sample size bias. Tom Abell’s absence for the bulk of the competition was key. That is not to denigrate Lewis or Peter Trego’s efforts as stand-ins but the skipper is rapidly becoming a talisman as a leader and adds to the side in all three disciplines. Imagine the middle-order of Hildreth, Abell, Renshaw for the whole of the group. Similarly Tom’s bowling would have been invaluable especially at Chelmsford and Canterbury and I’d have backed him to pick up wickets most times he bowled. And of course his fielding was a big loss especially when Max Waller was unceremoniously omitted for the second half of the campaign.
As I said earlier the bowlers have all had a rest so they should be fit and firing for Saturday and Jamie Overton has been assimilated back into the squad. His omission on Wednesday evening may be an indication that he will be selected against Notts when his extra pace could prove crucial. Ben Green showed considerable promise and has done his chances of more regular first-team action no harm either.
But we need to talk about Trego. He was immense in this competition. His performance at number 3, often effectively opening were outstanding. I cannot see any logical reason why he should not be in the championship team this week as a batsman who can bowl. Obviously if the skipper is still unavailable he is the logical replacement but even if he is I would be looking to find a way to include him. It is well known that he is desperate to play in the red-ball side, which should be motivation enough for him if picked, but in the absence of Tres his experience and leadership qualities to support Tom or Lewis would be invaluable.
Notwithstanding all that, qualification for the quarter-finals of the T20 later in the season is now, in my opinion, crucial in the scheme of the longer-term plan for Somerset Cricket.