Matthew Roller, aged 16, of Wiltshire, was named as a winner in the Match Day Reporter competition run by Somerset County Cricket Club and the County Gazette. He scooped a media pass and tickets for three friends to Friday’s Natwest T20 Blast match against Essex. Here’s his match report.
SOMERSET’S NatWest T20 Blast campaign suffered another blow on Friday night as they suffered a comprehensive eight-wicket defeat to a polished Essex team.
At the toss, delayed by 30 minutes due to rain, Somerset were asked to bat by Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate, and some excellent bowling by Graham Napier, on his comeback from a recent injury, saw the hosts reach just 42-1 in the powerplay.
Craig Kieswetter, the competition’s leading run-scorer, and Peter Trego then built a substantial partnership, with 80 runs coming between them in 9.3 overs after Trescothick had fallen in the third over.
However, having hit an enormous six over the Old Pavilion off Bopara, Kieswetter fell for a 37-ball 40 trying to repeat the trick, when he was caught by ten Doeschate at deep mid-wicket.
Bopara’s array of variations built pressure, and Tim Phillips’ consistent line and length was rewarded an over later, as Trego, attempting a single to short fine-leg, slipped and was run out off the bowling of the economical slow left-armer for 34.
The loss of the two set batsmen in quick succession proved vital, as Somerset failed to recover from their loss of two wickets for one run in 10 balls; Alviro Petersen swung the bat for his unbeaten 26, but at the other end, James Hildreth, debutant James Burke and various others tried and failed to make a substantial contribution to the total.
An excellent last over by Reece Topley restricted Somerset to just 150-7, which despite the “tacky” pitch, as Kieswetter described it, looked a good 20 runs short of par. The batting suffered from the lack of a ‘big over’, and the wicket-keeper insisted that his side needs to “nail onto a formula that proves to be a winning one” soon, or face elimination.
Trego, used surprisingly sparingly as a bowler by captain Trescothick in the shortest form this season, bowled a tight first over, but unfortunately for the home side it was not a sign of things to come; with Craig Overton and Dirk Nannes especially guilty of bowling too short - Jesse Ryder and Mark Pettini plundered 47 from the next five overs, as the visitors finished the powerplay on 49-1.
Max Waller, by a distance Somerset’s best bowler in the competition, trapped Tim Westley lbw with a googly in the second ball of his four-over spell, in which he conceded just 22. However, the cool head of Ravi Bopara came in, and between him and the chanceless Pettini, runs were accumulated with ease.
A brief stoppage after 14.4 overs for bad light saw Essex requiring a revised target of 125, just 19 more off 15 balls, and they got there with an over to spare, with Pettini finishing on an unbeaten 60 and Bopara with 33 not out, to take the Chelmsford side to the top of the South Group table.
After this defeat, a fifth in eight games for Somerset, the side’s quarter-final prospects look bleak, but Kieswetter insisted that the Cidermen would believe in their qualification chances until they were mathematically impossible.
However, he added that the Taunton outfit might need to “look longer term in this competition, and look to younger players for performances”, as the side has failed to cope with the loss of the influential Jos Buttler to Lancashire.
As for his own form, the 26-year-old said: “In the last 18 months, I’ve been up there with the leading scorers in England and in the Big Bash; I hope that England will notice and hopefully I can keep knocking the door down for selection.”
Staring elimination in the face, Somerset will now hope that the wicket-keeper’s form continues as they look to progress in this competition.