Somerset welcome Worcestershire to the County Ground today (Friday), hoping they can notch up their first win in this year’s Royal London One-Day Cup, against a side whose have had a similarly disappointing start to the tournament.
The visitors will be looking to pick themselves up from yesterday’s comprehensive 133-run defeat to Yorkshire at New Road, in which they conceded 345-6 and were then bundled out for just 212, Steven Patterson taking 5-51.
If the visitors’ confidence will be low, Somerset are also smarting after two defeats in their opening two games, a 29-run loss to Derbyshire in the rain on Sunday and another by seven wickets to Durham on Wednesday.
However, the hosts did have some genuine positives to take away from their encounter with the 2014 Royal London champions.
For once the batting fired, with Tom Cooper scoring his debut hundred in Somerset colours, Peter Trego making a half-century and Craig Overton smashing 49 from just 25 balls. The new, untried opening partnership of Tom Abell – making his List A debut – and Adam Hose had a solid if unspectacular start, putting on 69 for the first wicket to provide a foundation for the big hitters to come.
On the flip side though, Somerset’s bowling, which has been their strong suit for much of 2015, failed to back up a highly competitive first innings 327-8. From the outset, the home attack offered up too many four-balls and failed to keep a combative opening partnership from Mark Stoneman and Phil Mustard in check. Only spinner Jack Leach, making his first appearance for the first team this summer, managed to keep any real control amid the opposition onslaught, which took them to victory with 21 balls to spare.
But Somerset have made the decision which many fans have called for and backed youth for this tournament. But that decision, welcome as it is, means that there will occasionally be days like that, particularly on flat pitches.
Tim Groenewald could come into the side to provide some experience today, but Lewis Gregory and Craig and Jamie Overton are extremely talented bowlers and the club has backed them to lead the attack throughout this tournament. As they gain experience the good days will far outnumber the bad ones.
Leach, who received a lot of praise after claiming 1-39 from his 10 overs against Durham, says he wants to be on the winning side against Worcestershire. “We need to win our game after a disappointing result against Durham,” he said. “They played well but we want to be winning games, starting with today.”
Leach, who recently recovered from a serious head injury, said: “It was great to be back out there in front of a good home crowd. I love playing here and it gets me going. I was happy with the way I bowled and it’s just a shame that it didn’t contribute a win because that’s what you want to see.”
He added: “Now we need to win as many games as possible and hopefully we can qualify for the quarter finals. We would all love to get through to the final at Lord’s in September.”
Somerset have named the same 13-man squad for the match: Jim Allenby (capt), Tom Abell, Michael Bates(w/k), Tom Cooper, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Adam Hose, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Peter Trego and Max Waller.
While Worcestershire lost against Yorkshire yesterday, they do have one point – from their opening match against Durham which was rained off – which puts them just above Somerset in the table after the same number of games.
Left-armer Jack Shantry returns to the Worcestershire squad for today’s match after being was rested for the opening two games in the campaign.
Shantry has played in all 11 LV=County Championship and 13 NatWest T20 Blast matches and enjoyed another successful season.
All-rounder Joe Leach is poised to be rested against Somerset as Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes looks to rotate his three main seamers, a similar approach to the one adopted by Matt Maynard at Somerset this season.
Speaking last night, Rhodes said: “Will you have a shake-up tomorrow? I’m telling the players not to panic too much about that sort of thing and concentrate on tomorrow’s game now so therefore there won’t be a lot of changes.
“Jack Shantry will come back into the fold and at the moment Joe Leach is the person who will be rested.
“We’ve always wanted to try and give a little bit of a break to our three main seamers who are playing a lot of cricket.”
Worcestershire will play five Royal London Cup matches in seven days before returning to LV=County Championship action against Nottinghamshire at New Road next Friday.
Rhodes said: “These guys are fit, they are used to playing. We’ve had a very quiet week because of the weather.
“We’ve had two games rained off and not been able to practice much at all with games being played here at New Road (Women’s ODI and Bunburys) so we’ve actually gone into this game (against Yorkshire) under par and rusty. That’s how I feel.
People can turn around and say ‘how do you that in a season as heavy as it is’ but as I’ve explained we’ve had two games rained off and not been able to practice.
“We would have liked to have had more than one point after two games but it is a point and if we can get a win tomorrow hopefully we will be on a successful run.”
Worcestershire will select from the following 13–man squad: Mitchell, Oliver, Fell, D’Oliveira, Kohler-Cadmore, Whiteley, Cox, Leach, Barnard, Ajmal, Morris, Shantry and Clarke.