Royal London One-Day Cup final

Somerset 245-4 beat Hampshire 244-8 by 6 wickets

THE wait is over.

For the majority of the last 14 years, Somerset have been cricket’s nearly men. ‘Everyone’s second favourite team’ that are great to watch but ultimately fall short.

On Saturday at Lord’s, however, Somerset’s class of 2019 – backed by thousands of vocal supporters from across the Westcountry – crossed that finish line and got their hands on the county’s first silverware since 2005.

For Taunton-born captain Tom Abell, it was “the best day of my life.” Plenty around Lord’s would have echoed that sentiment after watching Somerset put last year’s winners Hampshire to the sword in a victory that felt almost too routine, given the club’s recent record in finals.

It didn’t all go Abell’s way – he lost the toss and Hampshire chose to bat. But Josh Davey bowled a disciplined spell of eight unchanged overs from the Pavilion End, dismissing both openers in the process, and it was 50-3 when Lewis Gregory produced a jaffa to knock back Joe Weatherley’s off-stump.

Rilee Rossouw counter-attacked briefly before chopping on to his own stumps to provide Jamie Overton with the first of his three wickets – the others saw batsmen fall into a trap, hooking to the safe hands of George Bartlett at fine leg in front of the massed ranks of Somerset supporters.

The roar that greeted those catches signified the belief that Somerset were in the driving seat, and that they most certainly were at 180-8.  

James Fuller provided some late momentum to take Hampshire to 243-8 – 35 of which came from the final three overs – to put a slight check on the Somerset optimism, but the mood was broadly positive in the Edrich Stand at the interval.

“If we don’t do it now, we never will,” was one verdict. Another fan said: “Don’t worry, we’ve got the next KP opening.”

That comparison remains unfair on Tom Banton, who is very much his own player, but the 20-year-old – who had played at Lord’s just once before, aged 15 - walked out to bat as if he had done so a thousand times.

Banton got into his stride by flaying Fidel Edwards for four, six, four in successive balls in just the third over and, with Azhar in fine fettle at the other end, Somerset raced to 64-0 from 10 overs.

The partnership grew to 112 when Banton fell for a fluent 69, having struck 11 fours and a six, and the fired up Edwards then dismissed Azhar shortly afterwards.

What Somerset needed was a cool head and Hildreth was exactly the man to provide it. He and Peter Trego, the only two survivors from Somerset’s most recent Lord’s final in 2011, ran well and put away the bad balls to add 49 for the third wicket.

Even when Trego fell to a top-edged pull, and Abell followed for 14, even the most pessimistic of Somerset supporters would have been hard pushed to feel defeatist as Somerset edged towards their target.

And so it was left to Hildreth. Fate is a funny thing, and it just so happened that Hildreth hit the winning runs when Somerset last won a trophy, the Twenty20 Cup in 2005.

How fitting, then, that it was Hildreth – who has made more appearances for Somerset than anybody else – who won the game with a single to mid-wicket to spark jubilant scenes among the Somerset faithful at Lord’s and watching around the world.

This is a team who, by and large, have grown up together. The local contingent, the domestic signings and the overseas players have bought in to what it means to play for Somerset and now they have delivered a trophy. It would take a brave punter to bet that Somerset will have to wait 14 years for another one.