Defeat for Somerset in opening Vitality Blast clash
Despite several impressive individual performances from Somerset players, it was Essex eagles who came out on top in this Vitality Blast opener at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Ben Green and James Hildreth impressed with the bat whilst Josh Davey and Marchant de Lange excelled with the ball. However, 53 from Jimmy Neesham helped to ensure that the visitors claimed a three-wicket victory.
Green top-scored for the hosts with 43 off 30 balls as his side posted 185 for seven after losing the toss. Hildreth, in the new role of opener, also caught the eye as he smashed his way to 39 off just 17 deliveries. Sam Cook was the pick of the Eagles bowlers, claiming three for 15 from three overs.
In reply, Essex recovered from a poor start to reach their target with seven balls to spare.
The opening power play of the season at the Cooper Associates County Ground saw Somerset plunder 57 off the first three overs and only 11 from the next three.
Tom Banton and Hildreth set off at blistering pace, Banton smacking Aron Nijjar for a six over mid-wicket in the opening over, which cost 14.
Jack Plom conceded 33 off the third over as Hildreth hit successive sixes over long-on. There were also four fours and two no-balls to the delight of Somerset Members making up the 1,900 crowd.
Unfortunately for Somerset the two openers fell in the same Cook over, both caught off attempted pull shots, Banton’s 18 having been scored off seven balls.
Wickets fell steadily as, despite Eddie Byrom’s well-constructed 28, Somerset slipped to 144 for six after 17 overs.
It took Green’s three sixes and one from Marchant de Lange to provide a late boost.
Tom Westley and Adam Wheater fell cheaply to Jack Brooks and Josh Davey in the first 13 balls of the Essex reply.
Michael Pepper launched two powerful straight sixes before being caught behind off Davey for 18 and after six overs the Eagles were 51 for three. That extended to 88 for three by the halfway stage.
Ryan ten Doeschate was dropped on 23, but added only three before edging Marchant de Lange through to wicketkeeper Banton.
Walter’s impressive contribution ended when he holed out to long-off to give Davey a third wicket, but Neesham responded with a six and a four off the next two balls.
The New Zealander then hit three fours and a six off the 15th over and by the time he became one of two de Lange victims in the 18th over momentum had swung decisively the Eagles’ way. Plom ended proceedings with a six off Davey.
After the match, Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr said: “Unfortunately, it’s a case of history repeating itself. We seem to lose wickets in clumps. It’s an area that we’ve talked about and that’s the frustrating thing because you can’t afford to do that. We know that we were under par today.
“We made a great start and we didn’t capitalise on that. Emotions are high right now, but we will have some conversations, reflect and go again on Friday. We need to be more ruthless in T20 cricket and it’s a work in progress. The ability is there, it’s just a case of delivering on the day.”
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