Somerset make history with Kent win
Somerset made history tonight by clinching a record-breaking 12th group stage win in this years Vitality Blast.
No other team in history has won as many games in the qualifying stage, and it gives the team great momentum heading into next weeks quarter-final against Notts Outlaws.
Tonight’s 15-run win over Kent Spitfires at the Cooper Associates County Ground also dashed the visitors hopes of securing the last quarter-final place.
Will Smeed led a typical assault by the home side after losing the toss, smashing 61 off 28 balls, while Sean Dickson (41), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (31) and Lewis Gregory (37) made significant contributions to a score of 221 for seven. Grant Stewart claimed four for 48, with left-arm spinner George Linde taking two for 25.
In reply, the Spitfires, looking to overtake Essex in the table, posted 206 for seven, Joey Evison cracking 46 off 24 balls, Jack Leaning 41 and skipper Sam Billings 36.
Despite claiming the early wicket of Tom Banton, caught and bowled off a waist-high Grant Stewart full toss, the visitors were unable to prevent Somerset scoring 63 off the initial six-over powerplay.
Smeed and Kohler-Cadmore responded to the loss of Banton with a string of sweetly-struck boundaries. Both cleared the ropes in the powerplay and had taken the score to 72 in the eighth over when Kohler-Cadmore was caught at long-on off Stewart, having faced just 18 balls.
Smeed went past 2,000 T20 runs with his fourth six, launched over cover off Stewart, before going to a 23-ball fifty that delighted a packed crowd.
Another exhilarating mixture of muscular blows and deft touches ended when 21-year-old Smeed swept a ball from Linde and was caught at deep backward square, with the total on 103 in the tenth over. Tom Abell also fell to a sweep shot off Linde, Jordan Cox taking a brilliant diving catch. However, Dickson ensured there was no slowing of the scoring rate, hitting three sixes and two fours in a stand of 47 in less than five overs with Gregory. He was eventually caught behind off what would have been a wide from Stewart, but Gregory’s 19-ball innings guaranteed Somerset a challenging total.
Kent’s hopes of chasing it down suffered an early blow when opener Tawanda Muyeye, already dropped by Dickson at deep mid-wicket, hit a six off Matt Henry’s first ball of the second over before lifting a catch to mid-on off the next delivery.
Alex Blake threatened briefly, smashing a big six off Henry in racing to 24 off just 10 balls before being run out backing up as the New Zealand seamer fingertipped a drive from Billings onto the stumps.
Billings began watchfully, but cleared the ropes for the first time off Ben Green in the seventh over, fetching a ball from outside off stump and dispatching it over deep square. The Spitfires had ended the power play on 63 for three, still in the game. The Kent skipper then greeted the introduction of leg-spinner Ish Sodhi with a six over long-on and was warming to his task with successive boundaries off Gregory before Somerset’s captain struck back by bowling him with the last ball of the ninth over.
Leaning responded with a six over deep square off Overton and followed up with a four to third as 17 came off the 11th over.
Experienced leg-spinner Sodhi had Linde caught at long-off and Kent required 103 from the last eight. Some defiant blows from Leaning and Evison reduced the target to 69 from five.
Evison then hit Green for six as 16 came off the 16th over. Leaning followed up by clearing the ropes off Davey, but when he fell to Gregory two overs later, having faced 30 balls, Somerset regained control and Evison’s impressive effort ended when he was caught off Henry to kill off Kent hopes.
After the win, Lewis Gregory said: “We batted really well, with Smeedy again leading the way and TKC doing a great job, as he has throughout the Blast.
“It’s incredible to have achieved 12 group wins. The role-clarity we have had since the start of the competition means we can bat with freedom and we have quality bowlers to defend scores.
“Josh Davey pulled up injured late on, which is not ideal and we will have to monitor him. But we are looking forward to hosting Notts in the quarter-finals. We seem to draw them a lot in white ball cricket, so we know them well.”