Hampshire v Somerset, FLt20 semi-final, Cardiff

Somerset left again with blood, sweat and tears

David Hopps in Cardiff

August 25, 2012

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Hampshire 126 for 4 (Ervine 34*) beat Somerset 125 for 6 (Kieswetter 63*, Mascarenhas 2-11) by six wickets

Sean Ervine has a painful collision with Peter Trego, Hampshire v Somerset, Friends Life t20 semi-final, Cardiff, August 25, 2012
Peter Trego collides wth the bowler, Sean Ervine, after being given out lbw in a disastrous Somerset top-order collapse © Getty Images
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Somerset brought in a sports psychologist to try to end their losing run in one-day finals. John Pits has worked extensively with Marcus Trescothick as he kept his stress-related illness at bay and is highly respected. But as Somerset failed again, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that when it comes to FLt20 Finals Day, life is still the pits.

Somerset had enough history stacked against them to daunt an army of psychologists. They had lost five cup finals in the past two seasons - beaten in the last three FLt20 finals as well as a couple of CB40s. "To win the final, you first have to win the semi-final," Pits had reminded them. This time they did not even manage that, losing by six wickets with an over to spare. Hampshire secured a final against Yorkshire, with both sides qualifying for the Champions League in South Africa in October as a consequence.

No side had ever made fewer runs than Somerset on Twenty20 Finals Day. No side had ever successfully defended such a meagre total in a semi-final. Two battle-hardened cricketers, Simon Katich and Sean Ervine, quietly shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 54 from 40 balls to guide Hampshire home with no fuss. Somerset needed miracles from Alfonso Thomas, instead he was just back from hamstring trouble and his four overs cost 40.

"It is dreadful," said Trescothick. "There is so much time and effort goes in, so much dedication and practice and blood, sweat and tears that you do behind the scenes. We keep putting ourselves in a position to be shot down. At the moment we are not quite achieving what we know we can. At some point we will get it right, I'm sure."

Craig Kieswetter had politely suggested on the eve of the final, that Somerset had lost so often that it was "no longer an elephant in the room". They had been to the Champions League last year, reached the semi-final and, by implication, felt good about themselves.

But a whole herd of elephants were soon trampling around the Swalec Stadium, half the side gone for 58 by the 13th over and only Kieswetter himself left to trumpet defiantly that history did not matter. He finished with 63 not out from 58 balls and when he slipped while facing the penultimate ball, from Chris Wood, and snookered it through point for four, Somerset were literally and metaphorically on their knees.

The craft of Dimitri Mascarenhas gave Hampshire a flying start. Richard Levi, the big-hitting South African, was beguiled by Mascarenhas' first ball, failing to slog it over the infield. With the third ball of his second over, Mascarenhas added Marcus Trescothick, who had deposited Liam Dawson over the ropes at long-on but who looked more cumbersome as he dragged on a wide one.

Danny Briggs, Hampshire's left-arm spinner is a throwback to another age, performing with grace and finesse even in such a feverish atmosphere. James Hildreth, so often a disappointment when it matters, swept at Briggs and was bowled behind his legs.

It took only one fleet-footed six over long-on by Jos Buttler for Hampshire to withdraw Briggs from the attack. Sean Ervine, his replacement, seamed deliveries back to cause Buttler to chop on and then have Peter Trego, another big hitter, lbw dragging to leg; he was so disorientated that he silenced Ervine's triumphant appeal with a collision as he sought a desperate single.

Kieswetter's first 24 encompassed 32 balls without a single boundary, and Somerset had only 40 balls remaining to swell a meagre 58 for 5 when he summoned a response and deposited Liam Dawson's into the River Taff. But Lewis Gregory's run-out attempting a second to Jimmy Adams at long-off summed up that nothing would come easily.

Yorkshire's 171 in the first semi-final had perhaps brought exaggerated expectations, but not that exaggerated; it was a paltry total to defend and Somerset knew it.

When Michael Carberry took three boundaries from the first over, from Thomas, the first of them flying between wicketkeeper and slip, it looked smaller than ever. A gripping pitch made it a day for spinners and cutters, but Somerset's spinning ranks were depleted with the absence of George Dockrell, who has been on Under-19 World Cup duty for Ireland and was playing in an 11th-place play-off against Scotland on Friday. Max Waller's legspin removed James Vince, bowled by one that hurried through but Hampshire retained control.

Carberry's run out, after making 33 from 27 balls, enlivened Somerset's spirits, Kieswetter responding alertly to get the ball to the non-striker's end when Neil McKenzie dabbed on the off side and changed his mind about a single. Briefly, the chants of the Cidermen filled the air but Somerset were defeated, the apple crop is down, and in the West Country there was little reason for song.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by jonnybtestmatch on (August 27, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

@DerekGrabham- you can't withdraw your membership because you are frustrated. I am a Lancs fan and had many frustrating years. Somerset will win eventually and it will be all the sweeter for you fans

Posted by JG2704 on (August 26, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

@Marchewka on (August 26 2012, 09:33 AM GMT) - Unfortunately it's a regular thing. 4 finals days in a row , 3 times previously lost in the final itself ,losing finalists last year and 2010 in CB40 (prob won't qualify this year) and always there or thereabouts in the CC but unfortunately we never quite make it

Posted by JG2704 on (August 26, 2012, 18:43 GMT)

@glorster on (August 26 2012, 09:01 AM GMT) Guessing you're a Gloucs fan , otherwise besides Alf and our overseas player I think everyone who playedstarted their careers at Somerset

Posted by Munkeymomo on (August 26, 2012, 14:56 GMT)

Disappointing performance but a great day out in Cardiff. Yorkshire/Hants were brilliant, Sussex and inparticular Somerset were poor. The final was a good game even if the semis were below par. Crowd were great though, had a right laugh.

Posted by Gascard_D on (August 26, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

On another day, Somerset might have won, and gone on to win the final. Come to think of it, this did happen a few years ago. Such is the nature of these matches.

Posted by glorster on (August 26, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

I am surprised at the time of all these comments. If I had gone to finals day to support my team (unlikely as our players are continually poached by the likes of Somerset) I would have stayed for the final regardless of the teams involved.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 25, 2012, 21:25 GMT)

@Derek Grabham on (August 25 2012, 17:12 PM GMT) I know what you're saying but Tres and co must be absolutely heartbroken.@DeekshaSpeaks on (August 25 2012, 17:37 PM GMT) I still feel empty now. It seems that we choked again in this competition , a slow start has cost us a realistic chance of the CB40 and weather has cost us any realistic chance of winning the title. It seems we're destined to be nearly men in all 3 competitions each season. We just have to hope that Hants now have a hangover from this and lose their next CB40 match heavily combined with Somerset beating Surrey heavily. What another anti climax with loads of what could have beens. I still think Tres decision to bring Alf back when his first spell was so poor was a bad one. Suppiah , Waller , Gregory and Kirby were all considerably better on the day.

Posted by   on (August 25, 2012, 20:45 GMT)

A big contrats to Somerset from Gloucestershire!

Posted by DeekshaSpeaks on (August 25, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

What an absolute disappointment. I've been looking forward Finals Day for so long and I was desperately hoping to see Somerset life some silverware at last. Good innings from Kieswetter but all in all a totally disheartening experience. Somerset has perhaps the most talented side in the entire tournament; they start out favourites and yet their story manages to reach the same sad ending, time after time. But let's hope they keep their chins up and don't lose heart for the rest of the Championship.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 25, 2012, 17:31 GMT)

Well played Hants but another bad finals day for Somerset is hard to swallow. Obviously our batting was poor and Dimitri was immense. Jos and Tres chopping on signalled what sort of day it would be. Craig rode his luck and was the best of an underperforming day with the bat. What really disappointed me was towards the end where we gave ourselves a chance with 3 or 4 overs to go and Tres brought Alf (who had a wretched day) back on. I shouted no as soon as I saw what was happening.Alf has been amazing over the years but has not had a great day and I thought Max or Suppiah should have bowled of failing that Lewis or Kirby even. I'm a great believer that when a bowler is going for runs in this format when others are tighter to go for the form bowler rather than the 1 with the rep.Realistically Hants would have got there anyway but that over turned the tide even more in their favour.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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