Win takes Somerset in to the play-offs

James Hildreth hit a stylish 93 as Somerset clinched a place in the Royal London One-Day Cup play-off with a five-wicket win over Surrey at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Dean Elgar, playing against his former county, top-scored with 64 as Surrey posted 289 for nine after losing the toss. Ben Foakes (46), Jamie Smith (40) and Ryan Patel (41 not out) were the other main contributors.

Jamie Overton finished with four for 64 from nine overs and Craig Overton three for 48 from ten in a home attack that never allowed the batsmen to break loose.

In reply, Somerset reached their target with more than four overs to spare, Hildreth receiving valuable support from opener Tom Banton (53) and George Bartlett (57 not out). Conor McKerr was the pick of the Surrey bowlers with three for 56.

It was a seventh defeat in eight group matches for the visitors, who will want to forget the competition as soon as possible.

Surrey made a steady start to their innings, reaching 41 after ten overs for the loss of Mark Stoneman, caught behind playing a defensive shot to Josh Davey.

With the total on 52, Will Jacks pulled a catch to deep mid-wicket off Jamie Overton and departed for 17, but Elgar looked well set, moving to a half-century off 63 balls, with three fours and a six.

Rory Burns (22) helped add 61 for the third wicket before being stumped down the leg side by Banton off the left-arm spin of Roelof van der Merwe.

The key wicket of Elgar fell with the total on 129. The South African chased a short wide delivery from Craig Overton and edged through to Banton.

From then on Surrey found it hard to accelerate, although Foakes was threatening when caught by Craig Overton at long-on to give brother Jamie his second wicket.

Smith played some eye-catching shots in his 41-ball innings, which ended when he was well caught by Azhar Ali at mid-off, having top-edged at pull shot off Jamie Overton.

Craig Overton sent back Jordan Clark (21) and Stuart Meaker, while Jamie added Conor McKerr to his victims as only Patel of the Surrey tail made an impact.

Patel then took a diving catch with his left hand at backward point to dismiss Azhar Ali off McKerr in only the third over of Somerset’s reply. The same bowler bowled Peter Trego for 16 in an impressive opening five-over spell of two for 16 from the River End.

Banton moved to an attractive fifty off 55 balls before reverse sweeping Gareth Batty straight to deep point with Somerset on 98 for two in the 18th over.

Hildreth breezed to a typical half-century off 52 balls, but Tom Abell’s contribution ended on 25 when McKerr, who had switched ends, had him caught at fine leg.

It seemed that Hildreth would see Somerset to victory as he moved effortlessly into the nineties. However, he pulled a catch to wide mid-on off Jordan Clark, having hit 11 fours and a six in his 89-ball innings.

It mattered little as Bartlett played with sound common sense to reach his maiden List A fifty and Lewis Gregory calmed any late nerves with two big sixes off Elgar and two more off McKerr.

After the match James Hildreth said: “We had a chat after the last game about guys at the top order who are performing but not putting in match winning performances. You need someone to bat for most of the innings in the top order and I nearly got there today.

“I was a bit disappointed getting out and not taking full responsibility, but it was good to get runs. I tried to be a bit more positive today and the wicket was really good.”

Regarding the contributions of George Bartlett and Tom Banton, James said: “We’ve seen glimpses of what they can do but today Tom and George played really well. These guys are the future of the Club.”

Head Coach, Jason Kerr said: “I’m delighted with the result and confidence is huge in sport. I think the way that we approached the first half, and kept them to a competitive total, was good and then the way we chased them down was exceptional. We didn’t allow them to get away from us.

“The way Tom Banton played was the best innings I’ve seen from him, and Hildy is a class player. He would have loved to go on but the way George and Lewis finished the game off was outstanding.”

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11/07/2022 11:00 - Southport