Sensational Somerset make it six out of six!
Somerset maintained their perfect start to the 2023 Vitality Blast with a dramatic and hard-fought victory over Essex at the Cooper Associates County Ground today.
A near-capacity Taunton crowd, who this season have become accustomed to seeing their side breeze past their opponents, were made to sweat until the final over of the match as Somerset battled back to secure a victory which had seemed unlikely for large portions of the game.
Matt Henry and Ben Green took three wickets each as the home side defended what had seemed like an under par score to win by 11 runs with five balls to spare.
Having lost the toss, under cloudless skies on a pitch that looked full of runs, Somerset were dismissed for 150 from their allotted overs. Sean Dickson top scored with 42 on his T20 debut for the Club, while Daniel Sams claimed four for 20.
In reply, Essex were bowled out for 139, despite a bristling 63 off 43 balls from Michael Pepper, Henry finishing with three for 17 and Green taking his wicket tally in the competition to 14 with three for 24.
It meant a perfect six out of six record for Somerset in the group, while Essex were left with four points from as many matches.
Another Cooper Associates County Ground run feast looked on the cards when Somerset opener Tom Lammonby off-drove the first ball of the game from Sam Cook for a boundary. The third over saw Lammonby hit the first six over long-on off Ben Allison. But Will Smeed departed for just a single with the total on 34, chipping a catch to deep backward square off Shane Snater.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore hit Sam Cook for a four through mid-wicket and a straight six in the fifth over. Lammonby also cleared the ropes again before being bowled by Sams with the score on 51, having made 34 off 23 deliveries.
At the end of the six-over power play, Somerset were 52 for two. Simon Harmer then held a brilliant two-handed return catch, moving to his left, to send back the dangerous Kohler-Cadmore for 17.
The home side were never able to regain momentum, Tom Abell sweeping a catch to deep mid-wicket off Matt Critchley and Lewis Gregory lofting to long-off to give Allison a wicket.
When Green was bowled by a full delivery from Cook, it was 108 for six in the 15th over. Dickson then shouldered the responsibility of achieving a respectable score.
He cleared the ropes twice and hit three fours in facing 29 balls before being seventh man out, caught at long-on off Harmer.
Sams cleaned up the tail, sending back Roelof van der Merwe, Henry and Craig Overton as Somerset fell short of the total they would have been targeting.
Adam Rossington began the Essex reply with a boundary off the first ball, sent down by Overton, but Henry gave Somerset hope by dismissing Rossington in his first over and Robin Das in his second. However, Das had already hit three fours off Overton before departing for 17.
Pepper struck two sixes and a four in Overton’s third over, and it was 49 for two at the end of the power play. Peter Siddle then gave Somerset a boost as Critchley, on three, fell to a fine running catch by van der Merwe.
Pepper survived a tough chance to Henry at short third man off Gregory on 29 and celebrated his escape with a scooped six off Siddle.
Essex were approaching their task in cavalier manner and a fourth wicket fell when Paul Walter, having made only two, skyed a steepling catch to Abell at cover in Green’s first over. Pepper moved to an impressive fifty off 31 balls in the 11th over, but lost another partner when Tom Westley was bowled by van der Merwe.
At 97 for five, Essex required seven runs an over. Their task increased when Pepper was caught behind off van der Merwe, stepping back to strike through the off side.
Harmer reverse swept a six off van der Merwe before Henry yorked him for 16 with the target 21 off 13 balls. Green followed up by having Sams brilliantly caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Lammonby and Allison snapped up at short third-man.
A suicidal mix-up between the last pair saw Snater run out off the first ball of the final over and completed Somerset’s most unlikely success of their six group victories.