Somerset left to wallow in pain from another near miss


SAM DALLING TO EDGBASTON: Somerset came in full of conviction. The club’s allocation of 600 tickets was collected within an hour. Taunton was a hive of activity at 6am on Saturday morning, with excited groups wondering if this would be their year. It was not

Maybe they peaked too early?

Securing a quarter-final at home by plundering 218 to beat Surrey, Somerset galloped towards Edgbaston. Derbyshire visited Taunton and were treated with the disdain usually reserved for an outside fan who takes a wrong turn at a home pub on derby day. An English record T20 265 resulted in a win of 191 points.

And 191 is just what Somerset needed to secure a spot in a second straight Vitality Blast final. They fell way short. Eliminated for 153, they failed to navigate the 20 overs. With the depth of their batting lineup, that’s rare.

The hunt never really started. There were glimpses, times when Somerset threatened to start but they were always late. Forty-one came out 10-12. Could they? No. The innings were interspersed with frequent wickets, and 64 out of 24 was virtually impossible.

Somerset arrived full of conviction, enthusiastic supporters and players. The club’s official allocation of 600 tickets was collected within an hour of Monday’s sale. Taunton was a hive of activity at 6am on Saturday morning, with excited groups wondering if this would be their year. It was to be their year. How not to be their year?

But at 6 p.m., they knew that was not the case. And Somerset left a seventh straight final day empty of both hand and heart. Because it is important for this group. They are criticized from behind the scenes, from social media – and they will again after this.

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Lewis Goldsworthy is knocked down in Somerset’s semi-final defeat [Getty Images]

But they really care, and neither does Tom Abell. He wants nothing more than to bring trophies to Taunton. It would have taken all his media training, all his mental strength, to catch that breath before then addressing the press. Pain was plastered all over her face, tears hidden behind her eyes.

“A really disappointing day for us,” he said. “On all three facets, we weren’t quite at our best. We fell behind too early and couldn’t keep pace in the middle. We couldn’t start a partnership. We didn’t run with the bat.

“A big thank you to the fans. We are as disgusted as they are. It’s clear to see the huge support we have. Again, a big thank you. It’s just very disappointing for everyone connected with the club. . We couldn’t quite be at our best when we needed to today.”

As Abell admits, there were mistakes in Somerset. They were below par, below their electric selves on the pitch. They gave up a few runs, and felt the absence of their talisman Craig Overton. But it lacks a lot of stardust, so there can be no complaints.

Getting used to something doesn’t make it less painful. Maybe there’s some comfort in not falling at the end. Only maybe though…and there’s little time to mope

And they just came up against a better team that day. It happens. Of the four Edgbaston teams, the Hampshire team stood out. They are also the in-form team, having looked down at the start of the group stages to flourish. And it’s their ninth final day in 13 years (although they’ve lost five consecutive semi-finals before that).

The experience of these occasions matters, however, and they have it in abundance; Ben McDermott, Chris Wood, James Fuller and Liam Dawson to name a few. Additionally, James Vince and Nathan Ellis, Hampshire have the tournament’s standout hitter and pitcher.

Tom Banton and Will Smeed combined for the England Lions in midweek to crush South Africa. Rather than a flyer, however, here they made 21, the former missed by Mason Crane diving to the point. It was avoidable, very avoidable. It was also an exceptional gathering and throwing. Whether Banton is performing on this stage for Somerset is again at stake.

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Will Smeed abandons Tom Perst [Getty Images]

There was a nervousness to the whole pursuit attempt. Tentative, nudging and pushing rather than fluidity. All of the top seven made it across the border, but only Rilee Rossouw made it twice. He lit up the tournament – only Vince scored more points – but perhaps for the first time he felt the weight of expectation.

Four points against Brad Wheal were relieved by a straight six. But out of 15 he only had 13. Wheal was then tossed over the Hollies for comfortably the biggest hit of the day. But it fell to an unusually slow 23 out of 20. The supporters would have turned to each other knowingly, the looks and the gestures saying far more than words ever could. For them, it was the game.

Abell tried to push the tempo, Lewis Gregory too. Tom Lammonby made 34 but, brave as he was, he was never fast enough. And every ball seemed to find a defensive player, both potentials were limited to one.

Getting used to something doesn’t make it less painful. Maybe there’s some comfort in not falling at the end. Only maybe though.

But there is little time to mope. Relegation – if indeed that is what the powers that be will decide the fate of the bottom two in the LV=Insurance County Championship Division One – is a very real threat.

Their opponents this week are Yorkshire, the other beaten semi-finalists. Both teams will need a dose of adrenaline: “Come on Tuesday, we will all be well placed and ready to go,” insisted Abell. And with that, he went off to do harm in private.

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