Somerset guarantee top spot with Surrey win


Somerset guaranteed top spot in the Vitality Blast South Group by overcoming nearest rivals Surrey at a sold out Kia Oval tonight.

The West Country side secured a home quarter-final last week by sweeping aside Gloucestershire at Taunton, and tonight they ensured that they would finish at the summit of the table thanks to an 18-run victory.

The match saw the continued renaissance of Tom Banton, who has lit up the competition this year by returning to the form that saw him become an England white-ball regular. The Somerset ‘keeper/batter made a sparkling 84 and ensured that the hosts need to win their final game to join Somerset in the quarter-finals.

Banton’s brilliance underpinned Somerset’s 208 for five after they had been put in and they then bowled and fielded impressively to defend that total and chalk up their 11th win out of 13.

Matt Henry picked up two wickets with the new ball and two more at the end to finish with an excellent four for 30 while new signing Ish Sodhi had a debut to remember, claiming three for 33 including the key wickets of Will Jacks, who top scored with 50, and Jamie Smith off successive balls in the ninth over.

That left Surrey 85 for five and although Sam Curran kept swinging with 47, Surrey finished on 190 for nine.

Surrey paid heavily for an unusually sloppy performance in the field. Banton was badly dropped by Jacks at backward point on 39, Jacks having earlier put down a tougher chance when Tom Kohler-Cadmore had made 14. Those drops were to cost Surrey 70 runs.

Somerset lost Will Smeed in the fourth over when he failed to clear mid-on off Sean Abbott, but Banton and Kohler-Cadmore ticked along at nearly 12 an over for the next five overs, Kohler-Cadmore producing the shot of the innings when he reverse-swept Sunil Narine over the short boundary on the gasholder side which bounced back off the scoreboard.

Jacks held on to a catch to remove Kohler-Cadmore for 39 and Narine picked up Tom Abell and Tom Lammonby in successive overs to give Surrey some control.

However, when Ben Green, twice, and Banton lofted Tom Lawes over the leg-side boundary in the 15th over Somerset found momentum again. Banton looked to be on course for a hundred but aiming to clear the leg side again he got a leading edge and Sam Curran took a simple catch off his own bowling.

Green struck the ball impressively in his 40 from 24 balls although Curran and skipper Chris Jordan did well to only concede 12 runs in the last two overs.

Somerset’s most experienced seamers, Craig Overton and Henry, shared the first six overs and Henry removed Laurie Evans, who drove to mid-on, and Narine, caught at mid-off, to give them early control. Jacks and Sam Curran counter-attacked, adding 58 in 29 balls before Sodhi made a decisive breakthrough in his first over for the county.

Jacks had just reached a 26-ball fifty – his fifth in this season’s Blast – when Kohler-Cadmore plucked a brilliant catch out of the air at long on and Sodhi pinned Smith lbw with his next ball. If that wasn’t bad enough, Craig Overton returned to the attack in the next over and had the dangerous Abbott caught behind. Surrey had lost three wickets in six balls for the addition of one run and their race looked run.

Sam Curran and Jamie Overton took the fight back to Somerset, sharing 51 off 28 balls before Green, the competition’s leading wicket-taker, snared his 27th victim when he bowled Overton at the start of the 15th over. A target of 67 off the last five overs was beyond Surrey but at least a crowd of 25,000 had 19 sixes and nearly 400 runs to enjoy.

At the close of play, Banton said: “Everyone contributed and I thought it was an awesome performance. It was a good win and keeps the momentum going.  It was disappointing to miss out on a century towards the end but I’m still really pleased with the way I batted. I’m not over-thinking my game at the moment, just keeping things very simple. It’s not going to come off every day but today it did.

“I thought we then bowled and fielded well and Ish Sodhi showed that he is a world-class bowler, and I’m so happy that he’s with us. We’re taking wickets at important times and did that again. I thought at halfway we had a competitive total but you never know against Surrey.

“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves but we’re looking forward to our final group game against Kent on Sunday and the quarter final next Friday.”