Royal London One-Day Cup Review: Part One

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The 2016 Royal London One-Day Cup competition saw Somerset play some of our best cricket of the season.

There were some tremendous highs but unfortunately the campaign ended in semi-final heartbreak.

During the course of this week we will be looking back at the competition as a whole, from the group stage through to the knock out phases.

Our campaign began in the best possible way, with a local derby against Gloucestershire on a glorious day in front of a packed Cooper Associates County Ground.

After winning the toss Somerset Captain Jim Allenby put the visitors in and his bowlers struck twice early on to leave Gloucestershire on 51 for two.  Two wickets in two balls, including a stunning run out by Roelof van der Merwe helped Somerset to turn the screw as the visitors slumped to 94 for four.  The Somerset bowlers were on top and only 100 from Chris Dent and 43 from Jack Taylor ensured that Gloucestershire posted a respectable total of 260 all out from their allotted overs.  Van der Merwe was the pick of the Somerset attack, claiming three for 51.  It was an eventful first session for the 31 year old who also claimed three catches.

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Any Somerset fan who thought the game was over received a rude awakening as the home side slipped to 15 for two.  Johann Myburgh and Allenby (29) got Somerset back on track with a partnership of 64 but when the captain departed his side were 79 for three.  Myburgh and James Hildreth then put on 87 for the fourth wicket before the former was dismissed for an excellent 81.  Wickets continued to fall and when Alex Barrow was bowled by David Payne Somerset were 198 for nine and staring down the barrel.

However, a dramatic last wicket stand of 65 not out between Jamie Overton and Tim Groenewald saw Somerset over the line by one wicket with just three balls to spare as the crowd went mad!

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After the nail biting finish Somerset’s last wicket pair were clearly delighted.  “Its unbelievable,” said Tim.  “To go out there and see the game through makes me fell really happy.  When I got out there it was just as case of batting for as long as we can, watching the ball hard, trying to take every run we can and not doing anything reckless.  I knew that both Jamie and myself could clear the ropes if needed, so we just had to get it down to 25, then 20 and then all of the pressure goes back on the bowlers.”

Jamie said: “It doesn’t get much better than that.  Wins against Gloucestershire are always fantastic for us and hopefully we will have a few more this season.  We both know that we can bat and take a lot of positives from that but we just needed to keep the scoreboard ticking over.  The overs weren’t a big thing for us because we know we score quick enough so it was just a case of getting the runs and not focusing on the time.”

Three days later a buoyant Somerset squad made the trip to the Kia Oval to take on Surrey and once again Matt Maynard’s side impressed.

The home side won the toss and elected to bat.  With the score on 53 for one the rain came and the players had to leave the field after 11 overs.  When play resumed Surrey had 13 overs to face as the game was reduced to 24 overs per side.  Rory Burns (51 not out) and Jason Roy (46) helped the hosts to 163 for six.

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Requiring 180 from 24 overs, Somerset made light work of their task.  Openers Jim Allenby (71) and Johann Myburgh (76) put on 155 for the first wicket and it was left to Peter Trego and James Hildreth to finish things off as Somerset won by eight wickets (D/L method) to make it two wins from two matches.

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After the match Johann Myburgh said: “I’m very happy that we won and I always enjoy contributing to the team so it can’t get much better than that.  After the rain break we kept on picking up wickets which slowed them down.   I thought we did well in the field and were pretty happy to be chasing 180.”

Next up for Somerset was a trip to Chelmsford to take on Essex.

The hosts won the toss and elected to field.  In a rain effected match Somerset posted a total of 179 for eight thanks in no small part to Adam Hose who top scored with 77 and Jim Allenby who made 68.

Needing 177 to win from 29 overs the hosts were soon in trouble as Tim Groenewald removed the Essex top three for just 35 runs.  Wickets continued to fall and the home side found themselves on 139 for nine, still needing 38 from four overs.  Essex seemed dead and buried but heroics from James Foster, who finished on 75 not out, ensured that the hosts claimed an unlikely tie (D/L) despite Lewis Gregory taking four for 23.  Whilst disappointed not to have taken maximum points from the match, Somerset could take solace from the fact that after three matches we were unbeaten.

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Looking back on the draw Lewis said: “For the neutrals in the crowd it was a good game of cricket and at the end of it we have come out of it with a point a piece.   I have played in a couple of close games before but I think that this is the first tied game I have ever played in.  Obviously we were a little bit disappointed with the tie but we dragged ourselves back into the game.  Chasing 170 odd in 29 overs is the sort of total you would expect a team to be able to chase in this day and age.  We bowled really well to get ourselves back in and we feel we are in a really good position in this competition.”

Two days later Somerset made the trip to Canterbury to take on Kent Spitfires.

Somerset won the toss and elected to field in this match that was reduced to 30 overs per side.  Daniel Bell-Drummond (68) and Sam Northeast (64) helped to ensure that the hosts finished on 231 for six from their 30 overs.  Lewis Gregory was Somerset’s main wicket taker on the evening as he helped himself to three for 37.

Chasing 232 for victory Somerset were all out for 136 as we suffered their first Royal London One-Day Cup loss of the season.

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After the match Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “Once they started to get going we stood off them a little bit and you can never afford to do that.  They probably got 30 or 40 more than par.  When we batted we just had no real impetus in our innings and it was a big learning curve for several of our players.  It’s tough when you are chasing eight runs an over and it was only really when Roelof van der Merwe and Alex Barrow got together that there was any real impetus.”

Somerset got back to winning ways in the next match against Glamorgan and that is where we will begin the second part of our review on Wednesday.