June 13, 2003

Somerset lose to Warwickshire but Twenty20 Cup is a great success at Taunton

The new Twenty20 Cup competition was voted a hit by those who attended the first match at the County Ground in Taunton on Friday evening.

A crowd of nearly 5000 people turned out to see the first game in the new short form of cricket and it certainly lived up to expectation. There was all the fun and excitement of the longer one day game, but it was all over just before 8pm. The only disappointment for the large crowd was that Somerset ended up as the losers.

After winning the toss and putting the visitors into bat first Somerset skipper Mike Burns trusted himself with the first over and bowled four dot balls in succession to the delight of the large crowd. However it was Aaron Laraman who claimed the first success for the Cidermen when disposed of Ian Trott in the second over.

The introduction of young Wes Durston into the attack met with immediate success when he accounted for Nick Carter with his first ball, and then followed his success with another wicket in his next over.

Warwickshire looked to be in trouble at 76 for 5 in the eleventh over but were rescued by a sixth wicket stand of 79 in seven overs between seasoned campaigner Trevor Penney (52) and Kenyan Collins Obuya.

When the visitors innings closed after an hour of hectic cricket they had moved onto 188 for 7 by which time Obuya had scored 34. Durston was the pick of the Somerset bowlers taking 3 for 31 from his four overs.

Chasing their formidable target the Somerset openers Jamie Cox and Carl Gazzard raced away taking 24 off the first two overs that included a big six by Cox off the bowling of Ian Bell into the Colin Atkinson Pavilion.

Somerset seemed well set on 49 without loss until Graham Wagg was brought into the attack from the Old Pavilion End for the fifth over and immediately accounted for Gazzard and Ian Blackwell with successive balls.

Despite this setback the Cidermen kept up with the asking rate, but when Obuya came on at the River End he bowled Cox for 47 to make Somerset 95 for 3 and shortly Burns was bowled by Neil Carter.

Keith Dutch was batting confidently and finding the holes in the field regularly and moving the score along well.However when Durston, Parsons and Laraman were out in quick succession the Cidermen's chase seemed all but over despite the brave efforts of the former Middlesex man who remained until the last ball when he holed out to Obuya after making 70.

In the end Somerset were all out for 169, to give the visitors victory by 19 runs.

At the end of the game Somerset coach Kevin Shine told me: "I was very happy with the way that we bowled and our fielding was excellent but tonight it was our batters who didn't get it right and we have got to look a little more closely at our shot selection, because we were punished for playing a couple of bad shots tonight. Wes Durston bowled very well for us which was very pleasing and Keith Dutch also had a good innings."

The coach continued: "Just because we have lost tonight people shouldn't start to write us off. We think that we have got a strong side for Twenty20 and a good chance of winning this competition so of course it's disappointing to lose our first match but we have seen a lot of good things here tonight. A very good crowd, many of whom have never been to a cricket match before have been thoroughly entertained by what has gone on here, and that is a very big positive."

One of the Somerset heroes was twenty two year old Wes Durston from Glastonbury who told me afterwards : "It was fantastic playing out there the atmosphere inside the ground was just tremendous, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was really pleased with the way that I bowled, and after my first three overs I had gone for 13 runs. I also enjoyed my innings and only wish that it could have gone on for longer."