Semi-finalists in the 50-over tournament last season and beaten in the first two Championship games of this season, Somerset were desperate to start this season’s Royal London One Day Cup campaign with a win. And a home game against Surrey – the club that most Somerset supporters dislike the most – offered a perfect opportunity to respond positively to the disappointing start. A win is always welcome but against a team that has Jade Dernbach playing for them and captained by the loathsome Gareth Batty then any win would be even sweeter.
In front of a decent crowd and with the Sky cameras present Somerset’s players needed little more incentive to give the Cider Army a perfect start to the holiday weekend.
Somerset made three changes to the team that lost in the Specsavers to Lancashire bringing in Jim Allenby to captain the side, with Roleof van der Merwe and Adam Hose also in to add some steel to the middle order with both enjoying some decent knocks with the Seconds. Marcus Trescothick, Tom Abell and Jack Leach made way for them.
Surrey 290 for 8 (50 overs)
The visitors batted first and made a very good start with former Durham player Mark Stoneman (56) and Dom Sibley (35) adding 89 for the first wicket in just over 15 overs. Then Lewis Gregory removed them both within four overs so Surrey headed into the 20-over mark 105-2.
This brought the two danger men together – Kumar Sangakkara and Rory Burns. Sangakkara was dropped early on but this didn’t prove too expensive as Josh Davey was the next to grab two quick wickets when he had Burns caught behind for 15 and the Sri Lankan great caught behind for 32.
Surrey were indebted to a fabulous knock by their wicket keeper Ben Foakes who struck 92, including 11x4s. He had little support – Borthwick and Sam Curran got into double figures then got out. Foakes was finally out to an impressive catch in the deep off Craig Overton, one of a few good catches held by Somerset’s fielders.
Gareth Batty was soundly booed throughout the game but he hit Surrey’s only six in the final over to help Surrey to a decent enough 290-8.
There were three wickets apiece for Gregory and Overton with Davey taking two. Game on!
Somerset 291 for 6 (43.5 overs)
If a football match can be called a game of two halves then Somerset’s response can most certainly be called similar. After a horrible start the Taunton crowd watched one of the most remarkable one day innings from a Somerset player ever, and an unlikely hero too.
Steve Davies was playing against his old club but there was no fairy-tale for him when the incredibly aggravating Dernbach had him nailed leg before without scoring. 1-1 off 1.
Dernbach then had Trego caught behind when the scoreboard said 7 and skipper Allenby skied one off Sam Curran for 6 and Somerset were in trouble. Big trouble.
But it got worse; 11-3 became 22-5 off only 6.2 overs as Hildreth and Hose came and went quickly too. Dernbach (3-46) and Sam Curran (2-52) simply cut through Somerset’s top order with the new ball. The game was Surrey’s for the taking.
Dutch international van der Merwe joined his fellow South African Elgar at the crease but Somerset’s supporters had little reason to feel too confident anything extraordinary was about to happen. The former had never scored an A List fifty before, and was dropped on nought by Sangakarra in the slips. From then he took the game to Surrey from the off with a collection of audacious strokes.
In a remarkable stand he and Elgar put on 213 for the sixth wicket beating the previous best of 209 between Lewis Gregory and James Hildreth against Durham in 2014.
Elgar scored 68 very cautiously with 1×6 and 3x4s but he had done his job before being bowled by Borthwick.
But this was most definitely the van der Merwe show; his unbeaten 165 include 1×6 and 24x4s in 122 balls – the first limited-overs hundred of his career. And he was only 12 runs short of the Somerset record score of 177 in a 50-over game by Jimmy Cook against Sussex in 1990 and joins a club of only four to score one day centuries for Somerset, the other two being Marcus Trescothick and Ian Botham. So his name sits there alongside Somerset greats.
Lewis Gregory (19*) hit Dernback for four when he lifted one over the keeper’s head so Somerset won with 6.1 overs to spare.
Somerset (2 points) beat Surrey (0) by 4 wickets.
Roelof was rightfully named man of the match and was beaming after the game, telling the BBC: “Being 22-5 and getting over the line, it’s an unbelievable feeling, and it’s going to help the team going forward.
“We knew 290 was an alright score, but it was a good wicket and if two batters could get in (we had a chance), and that’s what Deano and myself did, and we got over the line.
“It was one of those (innings) where you nick a few past the keeper, and a few inside edges went my way today, you take it as it comes.”
It was certainly an innings acknowledged by his team-mates and club officials:
Somerset supporters were obviously delighted with what they had just witnessed with some still questioning the form of the top order, Elgar excepted:
An away trip to Sussex beckons for the Cidermen on Sunday 30th April.
The south east based club had a rain affected game at Lords on Thursday so go into the game with one point.