Somerset completed their league matches in this season’s ECB national competition, which with a win over the previously unbeaten Devon team will give Somerset qualification for the knock out stages that start later in July.
Since May when the fixtures began, Somerset have played 7 matches winning - 5 and losing - 2.
Match 1 away to Hampshire saw Somerset win for the first time in 4 years against usually strong opponents. Put in Somerset made 178-9 and were indebted to debutants Andy Sapey & Brian Stone (both Trull) Andy making a telling half century supported by Andy Stevens (Minehead) and Ian Thomas & Tony Scott (both Brislington). Hampshire were then bowled out for 144 having been at one stage 100-4 then reduced to 106-8 Clive Hamblin (Frome) 5-25 supported by the remaining bowlers.
Match 2 home to Isle of Wight saw Somerset bat first and make 283-5 based on an opening partnership of 100 from Andy Fussell (Hinton Charterhouse) and Andy Sapey (Trull) who went to make 89. Backed up by the middle order batsmen and finished off by a fine 55 by Kevin Rogers (Purnells). Isle of Wight were never in the run chase apart from a rapid 67 by their skipper and were bowled out for 153. Terry Clark(Cheddar) Tony Scott (Brislington), Clive Hamblin (Frome) & Simon Hogg (OBs/Westbury) all picking up 2 wickets a piece. A comfortable win by 130 runs.
Match 3 away to Cornwall – Somerset put Cornwall in and the experienced Cornish openers put the Somerset’s bowlers around the park for the first 15 overs; opening stand of 106 laid the foundations for Cornwall’s 227 -7. Somerset bowlers Brian Stone(Trull) 3-46, Andy Fussell (Hinton Charterhouse) & Simon Hogg (OBs /Westbury) 2-19 kept Cornwall in check. Somerset ‘s batting however fell apart to Cornwall’s new opening attack and after 13 overs were 25-5. The position was only made better by Brian Stone (Trull) 57, Keith Graddon (Timberscombe) 27 and Clive Hamblin (Frome) 35 not out . Somerset finishing on 176-9 and a loss by 51 runs.
Match 4 against Dorset at Frome saw Somerset return to winning ways in a tight match against Dorset winning by 6 runs. On a slow wicket against tight Dorset bowling an opening stand of 92 by Marc Jenkins (Clevedon) 52 and Andy Sapy(Trull) 40 proved essential as only 3 other batsmen reached double figures in the total of 170 -7. Somerset were hampered in losing Kevin Rogers (Purnells) whilst batting and fielded with 10 men for the Dorset innings. Keith Graddon (Timberscombe) with a fine opening spell was unfortunate to only take 2 wickets in his 9 overs 2-27, but supported by all bowlers and a strong fielding display with 2 run outs, Terry Clark (Cheddar) was left to bowl the last over with Dorset needing 11 to win – 5 runs were scored and Terry finished with analysis of 7over 3 maidens , 19 runs 1 wicket.
Match 5 against the Channel islands in Guernsey saw the match reduced to 30 overs aside following lunchtime rain that delayed the start. CI batting first and taking advantage of Somerset having to bowl with a wet ball and very fast outfield put on 77 for the 1st wicket despite the strong efforts fo the opening attack of Keith Graddon (Timberscombe) and Chris Brewer(Croscombe). CI’s inning s was brought into check with Brian Stone(Trull) 2-34 and Simon Hogg(OBs/Westbury) 2-33 and again a strong fielding display with 2 run outs, CI 169 -6. Somerset after the loss of an early wicket were took their time to up the run rate but with Andy Sapey (Trull) 34, Andy Stevens (Minehead) 21 and match wining innings from Clive Stitfall (Lodway) 55 not out and Brian Stone (Trull) 22 off 9 balls with 13 needed in the last over saw us home with 2 balls to spare 173-4 and a 6 wicket win.
Match 6 away to Wiltshire – having won the match in Channel islands and the excitement of that win with 2 balls to spare Somerset felt the other side of the coin losing off the last ball of the match to Wiltshire. Losing 3 wickets for 38 the Somerset innings was built on a stand of 148 between Ian Thomas (Brislington)52 and Andy Stevens (Minehead) who completed his maiden 50s with 105 not out; further runs being contributed by Tony Scott ( Brislington) 31 in the final total of 247 for 5. Wiltshire attacked from the beginning of their innings in chasing the target and an opening stand of 112 saw them on their way and which looked as though the Somerset score would be surpassed with overs to spare, however from 200 -3 Wiltshire collapsed to 217-6 and despite best efforts from Brian Stone(Trull) 2-36 and Tony Scott (Brislington) 1-19 Wiltshire won with four off the last ball.
Match 7 home to Devon unbeaten so far in the competition has now become essential for Somerset to win for any hope of qualifying for the k/o stages for this season. Winning the toss Devon were put into bat and an opening attack of Graddon (Timberscombe) 2-25 and Clark (Cheddar) 1-31 took up the challenge and claimed 3 wickets in the first 15 overs leaving Devon 55-3. Stand of 79 between Luffman and Pylle had the potential to take the match away from Somerset but 2 individual run outs from Craig Dredge (Frome) and Andy Sapey (Trull) with in a couple of balls turned the game Somerset’s way and with tight bowling and spirited fielding from the team Devon were kept down to a below par score of 206 -9. At 41-3 Somerset were in a very similar position to Devon, but another stand of 96 between Ian Thomas (Brislington)31 and Andy Stevens (Minehead) 106 not out, a superb second consecutive century set Somerset on the road to victory. Andy Stevens innings was then supported by the lower order and the winning runs were scored with 4 overs remaining. Excellent team performance against a Devon side that has cast all before them previously and which showed the necessary fighting spirit that will be needed in the knock out stages.
Last 16 matches to be played the weekend of 29th July with the fixture being Essex away for the 3rd time in 4 years.