As I write this Somerset sit proudly atop the South Group of the Vitality Blast. Five wins from eight games and two wins in four days after that crushing defeat at The Oval are signs of a side that has what it takes.
It is likely to be a short lived spell at the summit with Gloucestershire closing in on a win at Hove. But with over half of the group games completed Somerset are in a good position to make the quarter-finals and supporters can be optimistic of a top two finish and that all important home advantage in the last 8.
But there is something that is eating away at this particular Somerset supporter. Something that needs to be addressed to give us the best possible chance of making finals day and perhaps going all the way.
The Somerset top order has been woeful for the majority of the one day season. There has barely been a power play that hasn’t seen Somerset two or three down, something that statistically, as Anthony Gibson said on commentary last evening, massively reduces the probability of a win. That Somerset have posted 229-6 and 197-7 in the last two games and gone on to win is bucking a trend which is going to be hard to repeat consistently.
For perhaps the first time this season Andy Hurry and Jason Kerr have a difficult decision to make, but in my opinion it’s one they need to deal with before the next T20 game on Friday.
The real pressure is on Johann Myburgh. He is on a white ball contract and just hasn’t delivered this year. He is sensational when he comes off but that is increasingly rare. The reward of those occasions is not worth the risk of the majority of cheap early dismissals.
The obvious solution would be to promote Lewis Gregory back to open – he did so last year. But he is performing so well with bat and ball that I’d be loathe to move him. The same applies to the rest of the middle order. In my mind the solution is to bring in someone from outside the current team.
I think there are two radical options which for very different reasons make a huge amount of sense.
My first is to pick Dom Bess. He’s shown what he is capable of with the bat already this season in red ball cricket and in his short career he has met and excelled at every challenge presented to him. Opening, with a licence to go at it from ball one would I believe be something he would relish. It would also add another bowling option in a year when spinners are proving yet again how important they are in T20 cricket and take the pressure off his bowling which could be hugely beneficial. Additionally opponents wouldn’t have plans how to bowl at him which in the modern game is a big factor. He’s a pretty decent fielder too.
The alternative is perhaps even more radical. Recall Marcus to open with Steven Davies. Yes it would have issues for the fielding but I’m sure the brains trust could find a way round that. Assuming they could and were satisfied that Marcus’ fitness levels are at the required level for 5 T20 games imagine the carnage he could cause in the first 6 overs.
In my opinion either option is far better than doing nothing. I’m sure many will have alternatives to my options but T20 is a game where thinking outside the box often pays dividends. For Somerset to be serious challengers for this season’s T20 we have to address this. There genuinely is nothing to lose and plenty to gain.