Kent put paid to Somerset's hopes
Kent 195 for 7 (Northeast 73, Key 72) beat Somerset 59 for 5 (Stevens 4-17) by 40 runs D/L
It is no coincidence that Somerset's period as a regular contender for T20 titles was underpinned by the belligerence of Marcus Trescothick up-front. Accordingly, it is hardly surprising that in a season in which their captain has struggled to find any semblance of form, his side have failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the T20 Blast for the first time in six years.
Much like the cataclysmic storm that descended on the south coast, Somerset's hopes of staging a late charge for the quarter-finals were blown asunder, not by the weather - they were already down and out by that stage - but by a Kent side playing with far fewer inhibitions.
In the end, the intervention of the weather was probably a welcome one for the visitors who had plunged to 59 for 5 in pursuit of Kent's fifth highest total of 195 for 7 in the shortest-format. By the time the umpires ordered the floodlights to be switched off and lowered in the interest of safety, the lights had gone out on Somerset's limp effort.
As he undertook the wicketkeeping duties once again, Trescothick was in prime position to watch another peerless display from Rob Key, whose half-century was the foundation of the hosts' innings. They are batsmen of the same generation, if not the same ilk but while Key is regarded as a more restrained operator during the twilight years of his career, he has struck a formula in the short-form that Trescothick may take notice of.
Trescothick's average of 5.50 in the T20 Blast is made even more perplexing by a masterly return to form in the Championship. True, Trescothick was unfortunate to clip Ben Harmison to short fine-leg where Daniel Bell-Drummond took a smart catch, high to his right, but it is often said you make your own luck. Key certainly did.
Key played with fewer worries. His side's interest in the competition ended on the back of a six game winless run that sabotaged a promising start and he is rarely considered as a short-form virtuoso in the same way as Trescothick. Yet, his understated approach has been as effective as anything up-front in the Blast this season.
An innings that contained four sixes - all of which came from Key shuffling across his steps and utilising Canterbury's slope towards the car park - broke the back of Somerset. He, alongside Sam Northeast, had the hosts motoring despite losing Bell-Drummond first ball of the match to Dirk Nannes. That was as good as it got for Somerset though.
Lewis Gregory, playing in place of the injured Nick Compton, tamely chipped Darren Stevens to mid-on, Peter Trego was undone by one that nipped back down the hill and both James Hildreth and Chris Jones followed in equally docile fashion, for nought. Stevens finished with 4 for 17 including a double wicket maiden.
His fireworks with the bat have rarely been required this campaign though. Kent's fledging batsmen - along with Key - has given them cause for optimism and there was further evidence here that had they not been hit by injuries to their bowling resources, they could and probably should have been challenging for a quarter-final berth.
As it was, playing without the pressures that a must-win game brings, they could loosen the shackles and entertain the crowd. Northeast enjoyed his fair share of luck but his stay bookended two drops - one guilt-edged chance by Colin Ingram in the slips which split his webbing - with an array of powerful blows and astute flicks. In putting on 131 with Key for the second wicket, they poured cold water on Somerset's hopes of a revival.
With a first T20 century well within his sights, Key's dismissal was wholly atypical of what had gone before. Indeed, his lackadaisical approach led to his downfall as a lazy effort in sliding his bat into the crease saw him found wanting when Tim Groenewald exhibited his footballing skills to dislodge the bails.
It mattered little, however, as the damage had already been inflicted on Somerset's campaign and that was before the storm had arrived.