Despite attempts from several batsmen, Somerset never looked like making the chase and finished 38 runs short.
A Surrey side missing important players such as Steve Davies and Matt Dunn won the toss and chose to bat on a good-looking surface, against a Somerset bowling attack which had conceded century opening stands in the preceding two t20s.
Jason Roy got the innings going with a four through long-on off Jim Allenby. Alfonso Thomas started with an lbw appeal against Roy, then saw a miscue off the toe-end of the bat land safely. From there, Roy and Kumar Sangakkara were busy, taking advantage of the large boundaries by running plenty of twos, punctuated with the occasional four.
Jamie Overton, who has never been the best fielder, made a costly error by dropping Roy on 18. Having been hit high into the air it was a tough chance, but with Somerset’s current inability to take wickets it really needed to be taken.
Max Waller also dropped one, this time Sangakkara, but it was hit extraordinarily hard at him at short midwicket.
After an eight-ball over from Lewis Gregory that cost twelve, Waller finally made the breakthrough – he got a leg break to turn between Sangakkara’s bat and pad for Luke Ronchi to complete the stumping. The Sri Lankan had scored 31 from 24 balls including 3 fours.
New batsman Rory Burns took advantage of a rare opportunity high up in the t20 order – he accelerated gradually and proved a good foil for Roy.
And it was Roy’s night. He brought up his 50 from 32 balls, then hit his first six down the ground off Allenby. The same bowler later conceded Burns’ first and only six, too, high over midwicket.
That over proved to be a hectic one, with a no ball followed up by another six from Roy. Allenby then sent down a wide before Overton missed another catch in the deep, this time off Burns.
Roy was flying high by now and could do no wrong. He hit sixes off Waller and Overton, over extra cover and long-off respectively.
To his credit, Thomas bowled a good eighteenth over, with three dots to Burns followed by a single, another dot and a two. But Overton undid that good work by conceding 18 runs from the subsequent over, and Roy finished the innings with a flourish by smashing Thomas for sixes over square leg and midwicket.
Surrey had finished on 208 for the loss of just one wicket, with Roy hitting the highest score by an Englishman in this year’s t20 Blast – 122 from 65 balls with 8 fours and 6 sixes. Burns had done a good job at the other end, with 46 from 33 balls (5×4, 1×6). No Somerset bowler had escaped punishment; the pick was Max Waller, who took 1 for 26 from his three overs. Allenby and Groenewald’s figures were particularly damning; they each bowled four overs and conceded 45 and 44 runs respectively.
But Somerset’s night had not yet reached rock bottom. Second ball of their reply, Johann Myburgh looked for a single off a Sam Curran misfield; instead, he was run out without scoring.
Peter Trego looked to counter-attack with two fours down the ground off Azhar Mahmood, but Somerset’s innings suffered another blow when Allenby (2) was caught by Zafar Ansari at second attempt off Jade Dernbach.
A ball after a straight six, Trego departed too for 26, caught by Mahmood at short fine leg off Sam Curran. Somerset were 37 for 3; a familiar story for the cidermen.
But James Hildreth and Tom Cooper at least provided some resistance. They consolidated at first but quickly looked to accelerate – Cooper struck three fours from one Ansari over, all through the off side. Hildreth went one better – he hit four fours from Sam Curran’s second over.
But this revival was short-lived, for Cooper fell victim to an astonishing piece of cricket from Ansari. The Surrey all-rounder, fielding on the midwicket boundary, sprinted in a full forty yards to pull off a sensational one-handed catch to dismiss the Australian for 29. The bowler, Gareth Batty, must be mentioned too – he bowled a tight spell of 4-0-22-1 to strangle Somerset.
Luke Ronchi came in and gave Somerset a sniff, with maximums over long-on and backward square leg. But when he departed for 21, for the final time in Somerset colours, it appeared all over for the cider county.
James Hildreth, not made for the situation (i.e. 16 runs an over) was unable to force the pace, but he did reach his fifty from 39 balls before falling to a Roy catch off Mahmood. Lewis Gregory smashed a consolation 27, but Somerset finished on 170 for 7, 38 runs short of their target.
Somerset’s Director of Cricket Matt Maynard was frank is his post-match assessment, saying, “I am very disappointed with the result. We made a couple of mistakes in our last couple of t20 games and it doesn’t appear that we have learnt from them based on our performance, which is disappointing.
“I thought 180 was about par on that pitch and Roy played well. However we have him a chance and he made us pay. I don’t think we were as good as we could be and we made a number of mistakes.”
He went on, “You have to learn because if you aren’t learning you may as well not play the game as you’re just going to stagnate, so that’s my message to the guys tonight.
“You do learn more from defeat generally but we have made the same mistakes the last two or three games and I am not a happy man.”
He concluded, “However we have got two t20 matches now which are dead rubbers so we are playing for pride. Potentially, however, it also gives us a chance to look for our best team for the 50 over cup so despite the negative of going out of this competition, which I am bitterly disappointed about, we could give other people an opportunity next week.”
Somerset’s final t20s of the season are next Thursday and Friday, when they will play Hampshire and Middlesex (which could be a wooden spoon decider) respectively. Surrey, who still have a shot at qualification, take on Middlesex and Sussex in their final two matches.