Hildreth fifty helps Somerset through
Somerset 175 for 6 (Hildreth 58) beat Essex 148 (ten Doeschate 47) by 27 runs
Somerset, given the fillip of having their adored captain back in their side, will contest FLt20 finals day for the fourth year in succession. They have not won this competition since 2005, so there will be nerves aplenty when they take to the field at Cardiff on August 25. "I am very aware of what has happened over the past few years," said Marcus Trescothick. He could hardly have forgotten.
It seemed that Somerset, put in by James Foster, had not made a sufficiently imposing total, not at Taunton. Essex needed 176 to win and they had both Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara back for this quarter-final. Yet, the catching of the former apart, both looked enervated by all that fielding and a heavy defeat at The Oval. By the time they had been to the crease and gone, the total was 53 for 5. Although Ryan ten Doeschate struck 47 off 24 balls, the highest score of their innings, in truth the match was over.
Mark Pettini was held at wide mid on; Bopara, having bowled two overs for 24, went for a duck at short midwicket; Owais Shah aimed across the line and was caught at third man; James Franklin was run out by Lewis Gregory's strong arm on the third man boundary; James Foster was held low and athletically by George Dockrell off his own bowling; and Graham Napier horribly skewed an attacking shot of some description.
True, 20 runs came off the 18th over, bowled by Alfonso Thomas, whom South Africa have had their eye on a little too late in his career, and 29 were needed off the last two overs, which was not out of the question. From the first ball of the penultimate over, David Masters was bowled by Gregory, stumps splayed with a certain finality, and ten Doeschate followed, caught at deep square leg.
All this after Craig Kieswetter, a century maker in his last two innings, had tried to clear the pavilion off the first ball of the match and was held by Cook at long off. Trescothick, warmly greeted as he sprinted from the dugout - his affection for Somerset compares with that of Colin Cowdrey's for Kent and Graham Gooch's for Essex - and there were glimpses of his old self in three stroked fours, through the covers and backward of square, before he flicked too uppishly to short long leg.
Unlike Jos Buttler and Albie Morkel, James Hildreth eschewed the notion of trying to clear the stands. Instead, he collected ten fours through his good eye and a little improvisation before he was run out by Tim Phillips attempting a second run to deep square leg. His innings of 58, the one half century in this match, came off 36 balls. Maybe, given his form, Nick Compton should have been playing. A pity that Somerset should feel the need to employ Richard Levi, and for that matter Morkel, in his stead.
Still, the Somerset followers - a crowd of 6,700 for this match on the hottest day of the year in the Westcountry - will embrace anyone who appears for them. In contrast with the weariness of Cook and Bopara, they will have an energised Trescothick leading them for the remainder of the season. Surely this trophy cannot be beyond their clutches for a fourth year in succession?