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Leicestershire come out on top

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It was Leicestershire Foxes who came out on top in this entertaining and record-breaking Royal London Cup match at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Although Somerset Members and supporters can take a number of positives from the game, it means that qualification for the knockout stages of the competition will go right down to the wire.

Let’s begin with the positives. There was another classy half century from Steve Davies, George Bartlett broke a longstanding record that was held by one of the best that the game has ever seen, Somerset recorded their highest ever List A total against Leicestershire, and a teenager making his debut played an innings that will live long in the memory.

Unfortunately, it was ultimately in vane as the visitors left Taunton with the points after claiming a four-wicket victory with 5.2 overs to spare.

Lewis Hill was the star for Leicestershire as his century, alongside 85 from Louis Kimber, guided the Foxes to an impressive win. Hill made 107 from 106 balls and shared a fifth-wicket stand of 158 with Kimber.

After losing the toss, Somerset made 326 for seven.

George Bartlett caught the eye as he made his maiden List A century, hitting no fewer than seven sixes on his way to 108. In doing so he broke the record for the highest score by a Somerset number six in List A cricket, beating the previous best of 106 which was set by a certain Lord Botham back in 1981.

The other main bright spark for the hosts was the performance of 17-year-old debutant George Thomas, who contributed 75 and shared a sixth-wicket stand of 182 with Bartlett.

Despite another fluent innings from Steve Davies, who made 61, Somerset slipped to 104 for five in the 22nd over.

A crowd of over 3000 gave Thomas a warm welcome as he walked out to the middle with considerable pressure on his young shoulders.

The recovery was started by Bartlett, who reached his fifty by hitting off-spinner George Rhodes back over his head for six.

Thomas, who joined the Somerset Academy in 2019, took the attack to the bowlers and struck the ball with increasing authority as the pair brought up a hundred stand in 110 balls.

The teenager then moved confidently to his half-century off 63 deliveries, with five fours and a six.

Bartlett was playing some majestic shots and brought up his hundred off 84 balls. Thomas then clouted successive sixes off Ben Mike before losing his middle stump to the next delivery and departing to a standing ovation.

Leicestershire began their reply solidly by moving to 49 in the ninth over before Harry Swindells got a leading edge to Sonny Baker and skied a catch to Sam Young at backward point.

George Rhodes fell lbw to Josh Davey for a duck and Somerset looked to be taking a grip when Rishi Patel fell to Ned Leonard for 40, a first victim for the young seamer.

However, Arron Lilley signaled his intentions with three sixes, including two in the same Leonard over, and Hill also looked in good touch.

Their entertaining stand of 61 in 6.2 overs ended when Lilley, on 39, clipped a catch to Leonard at deep square with the total on 146.

Hill went to fifty off 53 balls and greeted the introduction of Thomas into the attack with a six over mid-wicket.

Kimber helped keep the required run-rate at around six and a half an over and the pair brought up a century stand in 14 overs.

A big six over deep square off de Lange took Kimber to a 46-ball fifty and he celebrated by clearing the ropes twice more in the same over, the 39th, which cost 29 runs.

It only remained for Hill to reach his hundred. Kimber fell to a big shot late on and his partner followed, but the outcome had been settled by then.

At the close of play, Somerset Royal London Cup Head Coach, Paul Tweddle said: “Obviously we are disappointed, but we can definitely take some positives from the game. I was impressed by how we recovered to post a very competitive total, and it was unbelievable to see George Thomas play like that on debut. It was also really pleasing to see George Bartlett return to form. By his own admission, he hasn’t scored the runs that he’s wanted, but today he showed the skills that he’s got and long may that continue.

“We weren’t able to build enough pressure through the middle phases, but ultimately you have to say well played to Leicestershire. They played really well.

“Thursday’s game against Warwickshire is massive and everyone will be really up for it. To play in front of a big crowd at Edgbaston will be a good experience for the guys and we know what we’ve got to do.

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