Semi-final defeat for Somerset Over 50′s

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Somerset Over 50′s were overpowered by Essex in their ECB County Championship semi-final at Southend-on-Sea last week.

After the visitors lost the toss and were inserted by Essex Captain Ian Pont, the top order struggled against a tight opening attack with both Graham Poulton and Simon Hogg falling lbw to make it 13-2.

Marc Jenkins and Andy Stevens took the score to 53 in the 17th over, before Jenkins was caught for 37 off the bowling of Arshad Mughal, who finished with the impressive figures of 2-19 off his nine overs, including six maidens.

Stevens was then joined by Ian Thomas, but runs were still hard to come by, and when drinks were taken after 22 overs, the score was 85-3.  Two runs later Stevens was trapped lbw by Mel Hussain, and when Captain Tony Scott was caught by Neil Burns off Gary Neicho, it was 95-5 and Somerset were in a bit of trouble.

Ian Thomas made a hard fought 36 before he was bowled by Hussain to make it 111-6.  Chris Brewer and Keith Graddon then dug in and started to improve Somerset’s position, and the scoring rate, before they both were out for 25 and 31 respectively.  By then the score was 165-8 with only a couple of overs remaining.  Nigel Belletty fell quickly in the late dash for runs and Clive Hamblin and Craig Dredge brought Somerset’s total to 182-9 after the 45 overs.

With four bowlers in the top 10 of the competition bowling figures, all was not lost at tea and Somerset came out aggressively as ever at the opening pair of Hussain and Neil Braithwaite.  They survived some early scares, which with some luck could have seen either or both back in the pavilion, especially off the hostile Keith Graddon, but they survived and punished any loose balls.

A quick opening partnership of 43 was brought to an end when Braithwaite, 28, was caught by Simon Hogg off Captain Tony Scott.  This brought ex-Somerset professional Burns to the crease, who after a quiet start, dispatched every bad ball to the boundary. He struck 11 fours in his 47 ball 57 until he was brilliantly caught by Hogg off Scott. This made it 137-2 and regrettably by drinks, Essex were less than 50 runs from victory.

To Somerset’s credit, Essex were made to fight all the way to victory.  Although the hosts had another 15 overs to score 45 runs, Craig Dredge and Clive Hamblin took three more wickets.

Unfortunately it was too late for the visitors as Hussain batted through the Essex innings to score the winning runs and finish on 66 not out.  The pick of the Somerset bowlers was Hamblin with 2-31 off 8 overs.