SOMERSET ARE CHAMPIONS!
Somerset claimed an emphatic six-wicket win over defending champions Hampshire in the Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lord’s.
The south-west county ended a 14-year wait for a major trophy – during which time they have finished as runners-up on 10 occasions across different formats – with an all-round performance to savour.
The Somerset bowlers, led by man-of-the-match Jamie Overton’s three for 48, set up victory with a miserly display that restricted a Hampshire to 244 for eight before Tom Banton went about confirming his status as one of English cricket’s most promising young talents.
The 20-year-old muscled his way to 69 from 67 balls as he took the lead role in a century opening stand with former Pakistan captain Azhar Ali that effectively broke the back of the pursuit.
Banton was just six years of age when Somerset won their last major trophy, the 2005 Twenty20 Cup, with a squad that included his current team-mate James Hildreth.
Fittingly it was Hildreth who saw his side home – as he had done in that Twenty20 final as a 20-year-old himself – with an unbeaten 69 to cue the long-awaited Somerset celebrations.
The relief of victory was clearly evident for veterans Hildreth, Peter Trego and Marcus Trescothick – watching on from the Lord’s Pavilion in his capacity as a coach for this tournament – and amongst the Somerset fans who had made the journey from Taunton this morning as they earned rich reward in a Lord’s showpiece after a decade of near misses.
That it was one of their next great hopes in Banton, and Jamie Overton who is on loan to Northamptonshire in the Specsavers County Championship, that played such an integral role would not have been lost on them or any neutral observer who witnessed the power and conviction they displayed in a final atmosphere.
Banton had made a century in the play-off win against Worcestershire – his second of the tournament – and revelled again under the pressure. Where Hampshire had failed to clear the rope until the final over Banton needed only until the third over to swat Fidel Edwards’ express pace over the square-leg rope and with it shake away any tension his side might have felt.
With Azhar, a batsman with 18 international centuries to his name, content to play a complementary role they shared a 112-run opening stand that set Somerset on their way.
There was a brief wobble, when Edwards returned with a fiery spell as Hampshire made one last effort to find a way back, as Banton edged behind before Azhar was wrong-footed by a short ball he could only pop to midwicket.
Trego then wore a couple of early blows from the West Indian quick but, with fellow veteran Hildreth steadfast alongside him, they saw out the danger in a 49-run stand.
Hildreth pushed on and deserving hit the winning runs, with 6.3 overs to spare, to perfectly bookmark Somerset’s past two trophy successes.
Hampshire had lost wickets too regularly during their innings with the tone set after they slipped to 50 for three as Josh Davey was rewarded for an excellent new-ball spell in cloudy morning conditions.
Signs that it might be Somerset’s day were set when, a ball after Hildreth dropped Tom Alsop at first slip, the Hampshire opener obliging offered immediate redemption for Hildreth who took up the offer with a relieved smirk on his face.
Hampshire could ill afford such early mis-steps in the absence of James Vince and Aiden Markram, their leading runscorers in the competition, on World Cup duty and when they lost Joe Weatherley it reinforced the importance of stand-in captain Sam Northeast and Rilee Rossouw.
Rossouw was the star of Hampshire’s victory over Kent in last year’s final, when his 125 earned man-of-the-match honours, and picked up where he left of as he raced to 28 from 17 balls with six boundaries.
The South African would not replicate his Lord’s heroics, however, inside-edging Jamie Overton onto his stumps and prompting Northeast into a stabilisation effort as he reached a half-century from 85 balls.
But as Northeast began to regather the innings Gareth Berg was undone by the bounce of Jamie Overton, to be caught at fine leg, before Northeast’s concentration momentarily lapsed when he aimed a heave at the medium pace of Tom Abell and saw his leg stump pined back.
Jamie Overton and Abell struck again in quick time to leave Hampshire 180 for eight and while James Fuller, who hit his maiden half-century, and Mason Crane ensured a defendable total with an enterprising and unbroken 64-run stand, it was not enough.
“We were absolutely desperate to win,” Captain Tom Abell said after the match.
“It does free the shackles a little bit and people will talk about us as winners as opposed to runners-up.
“At the start of the season you set out to win every competition – this was the first one up for grabs and we managed to do that. The team have been phenomenal right through the competition.
“It means a huge amount for us as a team and everyone associated with the club. It’s a very special day.”
Jamie Overton was named man of the match after his thee wickets helped restrict Hampshire to 244 for eight before 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Banton set about proving why he is regarded as one of brightest young talents in the country.
Banton muscled his way to 69 from 67 balls and shared a 112-run opening partnership with Azhar Ali which effectively broke the back of the run chase.
Fittingly the final say went to one of Somerset’s elder statement as James Hildreth hit the winning runs – as he had done when the county won their previous major trophy – the 2005 Twenty20 Cup.
His relief was palpable and Abell admitted securing that long-awaited success for the likes of Hildreth, Peter Trego and Marcus Trescothick, after so many near-misses, made victory even sweeter.
“I am delighted for those guys,” he said.
“A few of our more experienced players have been to a few finals now and not quite managed to get over the line.
“This is a new team and we want to create our own legacy and that started today.
We had a huge amount of faith and confidence in our team and gong into today was no different. It was a massive final for us and I’m delighted we were able to perform the way we did today.”
Hampshire captain Sam Northeast was left frustrated as his side failed to fire with the bat as the absences of James Vince and Aiden Markram, their leading runscorers in the competition, due to World Cup duty were apparent.
“We were going to need a good start especially when we decided to pay the extra bowler with (Chris) Wood,” he said.
“One of the guys in the top six was going to have to go on with a big one– it just didn’t happen.
“They bowled really well and put us under pressure straight away. We needed a good start and we didn’t get it. We just weren’t quite at it with the bat and they executed well with the ball.”Back to News