Somerset ventured to the nation’s capital on Wednesday evening to play city whizz kids Middlesex in the NatWest T20 Blast, fresh from two straight wins against Hampshire & Sussex. Those successes made it 3 wins in 6 games for the west country team and a fourth victory looked a foregone conclusion for the visitors as the Londoners had lost 6 in 6. But, of course, nothing is ever that simple in Cricket!
The venue for this game was The Oval in Surrey, south of the river for the north London County, as their Lords home allows only a certain number of home T20 fixtures. Having considered using one of their out grounds, with Richmond the preferred choice, Middlesex decided that that ground was not big enough to host the mighty Somerset and accommodate the many thousands of supporters likely to be attracted to the game, such is the huge swell of interest generated by the visit of the cider county. So The Oval it was.
Somerset were still without skipper Marcus Trescothick and stand-in captain James Hildreth succeeded in winning the toss for the first time in his three-game tenure and opted to bat as Somerset had successfully set winning totals in the two victories mentioned above.
The Somerset charge was dominated again by Craig Kieswetter who scored his fifth T20 fifty in seven games in 2014 whacking 74 from 59 balls. This made him the leading run-scorer in the competition so far this season with 358 runs.
Things were slow initially with the score 3 for 0 off 2 overs but a sudden acceleration saw that move to 33 for 0 off 4. Opener Jones (28) went in the 9th over when the score was 62 and there was a rare failure for Trego (3) who went in the 11th when Somerset were languishing on 71. When Petersen (14) went in the 17th with Somerset 109 for 3 a below par score looked ominous. A late flurry of runs from captain Hildreth, who hit 26 from 13 balls, saw the total end on 152 for 4. This was the highest score by a team batting first in a 20-over match at The Oval since July 2012.
Peter Trego opened the bowling for Somerset and had early success trapping Malan LBW for a first ball duck. When danger man Morgan was out in the 4th over with the score on just 27 Somerset had seized the initiative and it was game on.
But Middlesex made themselves at home in the grounds of one of their rivals with Joe Denly quite magnificent as he put Kieswetter in the shade with 98 not out. He and debutant Ryan Higgins (44 not out) chased down the Somerset target with ease to cross the line with 8 wickets to spare and 17 balls left in the innings.
Most of the Somerset bowlers took some stick but the 5 overs of spin from Max Waller and Johan Myburgh gained the best economy only costing 33 runs.
After the game Dave Nosworthy told the club’s official site: ”Tonight’s result was disappointing for all of us as once again key match moments cost us the game. We now have seven matches left in the round robin phase and will seriously need to up our game against some tough opposition.
“Again it is by no means a panic situation just yet – but as a team and as individuals we need to now start putting our various phases of the game together better.
He added: “Next Friday night will be a big night for us at home, and I can’t wait to see how the lads come back – as one always needs to remember that the biggest punch always comes from the back foot.”
Next up is a return to Taunton and the visit of Essex on Friday 27th.