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Jon Culley at Trent Bridge
September 9, 2013
Nottinghamshire 122 for 2 (Lumb 46, Patel 43*) beat Somerset 119 (Ball 4-25) by eight wickets
The whiff of relegation hangs in the air for both these counties in the Championship, rather strongly for Somerset, who will not have the consolation of a Lord's final a week on Saturday to take their minds off their troubles. In a contest trimmed to 35-overs per side, they batted for only a little over 25 overs as they were soundly thrashed by Nottinghamshire, who will be favourites to beat Glamorgan on September 21.
Jake Ball, a 23-year-old right-arm seamer who has yet to play Championship cricket, took 4 for 25, his best figures in senior cricket, as Somerset were dismissed for their lowest YB40 total of the season - by some distance - and provided a familial link with Nottinghamshire's last appearance in a Lord's final, when they beat Essex by three wickets in 1989.
That match was famous for Eddie Hemmings hitting the winning boundary off the last ball of the match. At the other end was Bruce French, whose sister, Debbie, became Debbie Ball and would a couple of years later give birth to Jake.
Peter Trego hit 40 off 53 balls to offer some substance to Somerset's cause but once he had been out-thought by Steven Mullaney, who drew an ankle-height return catch from a slower ball, they lost their last six wickets for 28 in an abjectly dispirited display. Mullaney finished with 3 for 35 as Somerset were dismissed in just 25.4 overs, their total of 119 some 103 runs fewer than their previous lowest in this year's competition, their form in which - until this performance - had been the highlight of a dismal season.
Nottinghamshire lost Alex Hales in the second over of their reply but once Michael Lumb had imposed his presence by hitting 46 off 38 balls, including 10 boundaries, before he top-edged Jamie Overton to be caught behind, the result was not in any doubt.
With the freedom to let rip, Samit Patel completed the night's work by smashing an unbeaten 43 off just 26 deliveries - including three fours in one over off Overton, who was released from England's one-day squad to take part - as Nottinghamshire passed their target in a mere 16.2 overs.
Young Ball's career has not progressed as quickly as it seemed it might when he made his first-class debut against MCC in Abu Dhabi in 2011 but on the basis of this performance is surely worth another look.
Unlucky not to strike with his first delivery, which beat Trego all ends up but somehow missed the stumps, he conceded 13 runs and bowled a wide in his second over, at which point he was taken out of the firing line. When he came back, for one over, he took out James Hildreth's middle stump, before a third spell yielded the wickets of Piyush Chawla, Alfonso Thomas and Jamie Overton, the last-name pair off consecutive balls before Steve Kirby survived the hat-trick attempt.
It was a pretty poor effort by Somerset, whose decline this season has been quite startling given that between 2009 and last season they were runners-up twice in both the Championship and the 40-over competition, and three times finished second in the Twenty20.
Put in by Nottinghamshire with cloud and rain about - the start was delayed by 50 minutes - but on an essentially good wicket, they lost Marcus Trescothick to the fourth ball of the match when the skipper thin-edged pushing at Harry Gurney, but Trego and Craig Kieswetter made decent progress until the latter, having just launched Ajmal Shahzad over cover, bottom edged an attempted pull and was caught behind. Nonetheless, 41 for 2 was a decent platform at the end of the seven-over Powerplay.
But Nick Compton gave his wicket away carelessly, attempting to hit Mullaney out of the ground in an over that had already yielded 10 runs. Without Jos Buttler, away on England duty, they needed Compton or Hildreth to deliver but Trego, who has made more than 1,000 runs in white ball cricket this year, was their only serious contributor, and Craig Meschede tried gamely to add runs in the closing stages, none of his lower-order partners lasted more than six balls.
The trip to Lord's gives Nottinghamshire a chance to add a late shine to a season in which they lost in the quarter-finals of the Twenty20 and have not won a Championship match since May. The quality of their batting line-up, in particular, with six internationals in their top seven, demands a trophy win, which may now come.
Director of cricket Mick Newell described the night as "an excellent all-round performance".
"We may have neglected one-day cricket in the last few years as we have concentrated on the four-day game but I identified this competition as one we could do well in as I think we now look a decent one-day side," he said.
"We've played well in both white-ball competitions this year and it is nice to have gone one step further and reached the final in this one."
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