Dernbach summons perfect retort
Surrey 173 for 6 (Roy 64) beat Somerset 159 for 6 (Kieswetter 61) by 14 runs
Jade Dernbach often feels like the most derided man in English cricket. After a winter of discontent that may have terminated his international career for good, Dernbach would have expected relief in the new NatWest Blast. Instead, he failed to defend 15 off the final four balls against Sussex during the competition's launch on Friday night.
So there seemed something rather cathartic about Dernbach's reaction after his final over clinched Surrey's 14-run win at Taunton. Never one to knowingly under-celebrate, he ran halfway towards the boundary, arms aloft in triumph.
He had earned it, too. Given the chance to defend 18 off the final over, Dernbach yielded only three runs. Fast and full and with Somerset unable to read his slower balls, it distilled the virtues that England identified in awarding him 58 caps across the two limited overs formats.
And there was another moment to savour earlier, as an athletic pick up and throw ran Marcus Trescothick out after hesitating over a single. In the county game, at least, you can't keep Dernbach down for long: his four overs yielded only 26 runs.
Somerset's record of four consecutive appearances at T20 finals day was ended by defeat at The Oval in last year's quarterfinal. And not just any defeat, either: Gareth Batty's raucous sendoff to Peter Trego earned him a two-match ban. Batty, who was injured, may have thought that he'd chosen a good game to avoid.
That was especially true with Craig Kieswetter smiting 43 off his first 22 balls, ruthless on anything wide outside offstump. As Somerset cruised to 92 for 2 off 11 overs, their pursuit of 174 felt probable. An element of revenge, though the word had no place on a sumptuous afternoon at Taunton, seemed certain.
While Surrey bowled well, there was a strong element of self-destruction about Somerset's demise, as four wickets were lost in five wickets. "We sort of threw the game away," Kieswetter admitted. "We lacked a little bit of nous with our batting."
Kieswetter himself contributed his second consecutive T20 half-century, to follow 517 runs, more than anyone else, in the tournament last year, but even he rather lost his way after the Powerplay.
No one has been more assiduous in accruing T20 specialists than Surrey. So it would have been a particular source of pleasure to see products of their academy contribute strongly to their success.
At the age of only 22, Zafar Ansari has almost acquired senior player status at Surrey. Three canny overs of left-arm spin, which yielded only 19 runs and included Kieswetter caught at long-on, confirmed what a loss he had been for Surrey at Hove on Friday. Tom Curran's afternoon did not start promisingly - 14 off his first over included five wides sprayed down the legside - but he justified Graeme Smith's faith with smart bowling thereafter.
Earlier, it was another dynamic product of Surrey's Academy who powered their innings. After announcing himself with Surrey's first T20 century four years ago, Jason Roy's talent has never been in doubt, but his aptitude for building innings often has. And while this was a T20 game, Roy trusted himself to play himself in - scoring only two from the first eight balls - before unveiling his repertoire.
His best shot, a six off George Dockrell which must have reminded him of the Dutch onslaught in the World T20 - and struck the outside of the press box - showed that Roy is at his best when he plays straight, and lets his timing and power do the rest.
At 94-1 off 9.1 overs, Surrey envisaged a total in excess of 200. Instead, exceptional bowling from the spin twins - Dockrell and Max Waller - reined Surrey in, with the help of Somerset's death bowling specialists. Dirk Nannes and Alfonso Thomas may have a combined age of 75 but their T20 acumen remains priceless.