Somerset win thriller
Jamie Overton and Tim Groenewald produced an unbroken last-wicket stand of 65 as Somerset pulled off a nerve-tingling one-wicket Royal London One-Day Cup win over arch-rivals Gloucestershire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Chris Dent hit exactly 100 in holders Gloucestershire’s total of 260 all out. Jack Taylor made 43 and Benny Howell 35, while Roelof van der Merwe was involved in seven of the dismissals, three with his left-arm spin, three catches and a run-out.
Somerset looked to be cruising at 166 for three in reply, Johann Myburgh leading the way with 81. However, his dismissal brought about something of a collapse to 198 for nine, with only James Hildreth (48) of the other batsmen making an impression. It looked all over, but Overton (40 not out) and Groenewald (34 not out) had other ideas. The pair shared six fours and three sixes, surviving just one major run-out scare when wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick failed to gather a throw, before clinching victory with three balls to spare.
After Somerset had chosen to field, Craig Overton struck a major early blow with an outswinger that clipped the top of Michael Klinger’s off stump in the sixth over. It was 51 for two when Roderick cut Lewis Gregory and was caught by van der Merwe, two-handed diving to his left at cover. After ten overs Gloucestershire had progressed to 54 for two. Dent reached his half-century off 55 balls, with nine sweetly struck boundaries. Hamish Marshall helped take the total to 94 before he was bowled by Peter Trego’s second delivery of the game.
The next ball saw Ian Cockbain play into the covers where van der Merwe dived and initially fumbled, but then recovered to effect a brilliant run-out, hitting the stumps at the bowlers’ end with a throw while still on the ground. Howell hit the first six of the game over long-on off van der Merwe before Dent reached a chanceless hundred off 107 balls, having extended his boundary count to 16. Without adding, the left-hander tried to drive Tim Groenewald and only succeeded in giving another catch to van der Merwe. At that stage it was 165 for five.
Howell and Jack Taylor batted sensibly to take the score to 207 with ten overs left. However, Howell then advanced to van der Merwe and feathered a catch to wicketkeeper Alex Barrow. Smith departed to a slog-sweep off van der Merwe and Gloucestershire’s last hope of reaching 300 disappeared when Taylor drove a wide ball from Jamie Overton to cover where van der Merwe took his best catch, low to his left.
The hosts’ reply started badly as Adam Hose nicked a high catch to Klinger at slip off Matt Taylor and Peter Trego fell to a brilliant one-handed catch by Howell at short cover off Payne. Jim Allenby and Myburgh took the score to 79 before Allenby was bowled for 29.
Myburgh reached his half-century off 63 balls, with seven fours, and had progressed to 81 before lofting Dent’s left-arm spin straight to Howell at long-off with 95 still needed.
Lewis Gregory was run out attempting a single to short cover and when Hildreth got a leading edge to be caught and bowled by Smith, having looked untroubled, Somerset were in a hole at 181 for six. Van der Merwe was bowled by Smith and five wickets had fallen for just 21 runs when Craig Overton was bowled by Howell. Payne produced a good one to bowl Alex Barrow and it seemed Gloucestershire could celebrate. However, Jamie Overton and Groenewald showed great shot selection to reduce the deficit before Overton drove Miles for the winning boundary in the final over of a riveting match.
At the end of the second nail biting finish inside a week Somerset’s last wicket pair were clearly delighted with their contributions to their team’s one wicket victory. “Its unbelievable,” said Tim. “To go out there and see the game through makes me fell really happy. You have got to draw some confidence from the win earlier in the week and 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.
“We bowled really well as a unit today and Roelof van der Merwe played exceptionally for us. He fielded brilliantly and bowled very well at the end which kept us in the game so we were chasing a reachable target. For a first performance in the Royal London One-Day Cup we feel pretty happy.”
Tim added: “I said to Jamie when we were walking off that come the end of the competition these are the sort of games that make the difference between qualifying or not qualifying. We got over the line, we have got confidence and we have got points. Now we move on and hopefully pick up a few more wins and get through the group.”