Somerset v Kent, Royal London Cup, Taunton July 31, 2014

Northeast, Billings blast Kent to win

Press Association

Kent 383 for 7 (Billings 135*, Northeast 132) beat Somerset 371 for 8 (Compton 56, Barrow 54, Groenewald 52*, Thomas 49*) by 2 runs

An extraordinary 135 not out off just 58 balls from Sam Billings and a century from Sam Northeast led Kent to a nail-biting Royal London Cup win over Somerset at Taunton in a match featuring 754 runs.

Billings blasted a 46-ball hundred, including 12 fours and four sixes, while Northeast hit 132 at a run a ball as the visitors ran up 383 for 7 after losing the toss. Daniel Bell-Drummond contributed 61 as the Somerset attack was put to the sword.

A brief shower meant a revised target for the hosts, who were set 374 in 48 overs. That was a daunting target but they failed by just two runs, with half-centuries from Nick Compton and Alex Barrow before an unbroken stand of 101 between Tim Groenewald and Alfonso Thomas.

The pair got the target down to six off the last three balls but Mitch Claydon held his nerve and conceded only two singles and a leg bye as Kent held on for a thrilling victory.

The visitors were given a great start with an opening stand of 117 between Bell-Drummond and Northeast, which was ended in the 20th over by left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who had Bell-Drummond stumped by Barrow down the leg side having faced 60 balls and hit nine fours.

The visitors then stumbled to 166 for 5, Leach claiming two more wickets, before Billings joined Northeast in an exhilarating stand of 157 in just 13 overs. Groenewald went for 83 off eight overs and all the bowlers suffered as both batsmen peppered the boundary in the batting Powerplay and made use of the fast outfield.

Northeast reached his hundred off 115 balls with eight fours and a six, but was made to look a positive slouch by wicketkeeper Billings. The scoreboard read 323 for 6 in the 46th over by the time they were parted, Northeast falling to Thomas, having extended his boundary count with a further six fours.

A couple more wickets fell, but Billings was still there at the end, having struck 17 fours and five sixes in an innings he will long remember.

Somerset looked to be facing an impossible task, even when their target was slightly reduced. Marcus Trescothick was dismissed in the opening over of their reply and, although Compton and Peter Trego took the score to 88, the hosts were already behind the required rate.

It stayed that way despite the efforts of Barrow, Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton and it was 268 for 8 when Barrow was out, having faced 47 balls and hit eight fours. But Groenewald and Thomas refused to give up hope, sharing 14 fours in their backs-to-the-wall stand, which took the game down to the wire.

Groenewald also hit two sixes, but in the end it proved to be not enough. Only Darren Stevens escape the carnage, conceding only 41 runs from his nine overs.

"That was one of the best games of cricket that I have ever played in," Billings said. "It was unbelievable stuff. I probably wouldn't be saying that if Somerset had taken four off the last ball, but it just kept on ebbing and flowing right until the end. I think I will sleep well tonight. I had one of those days where you think you can hit every ball for six and thankfully for me it came off. I have come into a good bit of form and I just kept on going with it and it was a lot of fun.''

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  • John on August 2, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    @colinje on (August 1, 2014, 15:06 GMT) So basically the rules defy common sense

    Well done cricket

    BTW - Well played Kent regardless. Your batsmen seem to like our bowlers in SFs

  • Colin on August 1, 2014, 15:06 GMT

    I have checked the rules and rule 16.1.1 is very clear. Timings 10-30 am to 6-15 pm with no extra time. However what is odd is that for quarter finals onwards an extra 30 minutes can be added to complete a game. The quarter finals start on 26th August .. when it will be getting darker earlier.

  • John on August 1, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    Can anyone actually explain why the game could not have been completed - 50 overs per side - when there was still plenty of daylight left? Whether or not the target was just and whether or not Somerset or Kent would have won is not the point. Surely there was plenty of time to get a complete game in

  • Paul on August 1, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    … and in MT's defence, 3 field changes brought immediate rewards for wickets 3-5 with catches to the newly moved fielder. That brought Kent to 166-5, a point from which we should have won.

    I read criticism of his tactics in games but in general, his management of the younger players is something from which Cook and others could learn. Even when they're having a bad spell he tries to bring them through it rather than sending them to fine leg to contemplate their inadequacies.

    Also in the CC game v Lancashire the clear tactics of bowling dry to Buttler ensured he didn't score runs against his old county, and "bored" him out.

    However, I agree that taking off Leach after 8 overs when he was in rhythm was odd.

  • Paul on August 1, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    Having been at the game, it did seem very odd that we lost 2 overs (inc 1 PP) for a 10 minute rain break. However the game was really lost when Billings hit everything all around the ground. He batted exceptionally, and Somerset did well to get close.

    I take the point about Groenewald, but we do need experience in the bowling with Kirby's retirement and Thomas having a high workload. (Don't forget Kent had Bollinger/Claydon/Stevens/Tredwell bowling - all well over 30.) Our youth policy has brought on Buttler, Barrow, Jones, Gregory. Meschede, Burke, Dibble, Overton x2, Dockrell and Leach in the last 3 years. One is no longer there but the others, bar one, have had chances this year (that's 10 players all 23 or less). Joverton was erratic when he played but I'm glad to see he got wickets in the 2s this week.

    Combining Thomas/Groenewald/Trego with the young bowlers will give us the best chance and if the youngsters continue to develop, maybe one day I'll see a CC trophy.

  • Colin on August 1, 2014, 10:35 GMT

    Two thoughts about DL. If the Professional version of d/l, which was introduced in 2003 to provide better targets when the first innings total is large, I would have expected the second innings total to have been reduced by more than 10. Perhaps more pertinent is, in the event of rain, whether the priority is to complete the number of overs or bring the match to a finish within the allocated time? Perhaps the answer is stipulated in the RL playing conditions, I didn't find it in the Wiki account.

  • Stewart on August 1, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    Had the Somerset innings not been reduced by a couple of overs then Stevens and Cowdrey/Haggett would've bowled their spare overs around the 40-over mark - who's to say they wouldn't have chipped out a wicket? We may never have seen Thomas and Groenewald's amazing stand.

    Kent's bowling tactics were a little baffling - I'm struggling to see why Claydon bowled his full allocation...

    Still, as a Kent fan I'm delighted to see Bell-Drummond (bizarrely excluded from the first game) and Billings show what they can do, and very happy that Northeast has not only sorted out his form but got some successful captaincy under his belt. Don't think we have the bowling to win this but we should at least get some runs.

  • Martin on August 1, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    He's clearly a fine cricketer and nearly redeemed himself here with the bat, but does anyone else think it's a shame that the on-loan Groenewald is keeping so many young seamers out of the Somerset side? Only a year ago J Overton was (albeit bizarrely) in the England ODI squad, now he can't get a first team game. And Meschede and Dibble need opportunities too. For me, Groenewald should be in when Thomas is rested. And can we show a little more faith in Dockrell, who has a very good one-day record - two expensive overs in the previous match and he's dropped.

    Finally, congratulations Kent - their policy of sticking with youth (for instance, letting Geraint Jones go) is really paying off and they have gems in the likes of Bell-Drummond and Billings.

  • John on August 1, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    @colinje on (August 1, 2014, 8:04 GMT) I obviously wasn't there but it seems baffling why they even needed to get DL involved when there was at least 2 (maybe 3) hours worth of suitable light. Have to agree that I think the game doesn't help itself. Obviously the weather can totally curtail a game but in these instances why not play the game out?

  • Colin on August 1, 2014, 8:04 GMT

    I was there and game ruined by use of DL. In my view game could easily have been extended to 6-30 pm to allow for the 7 minutes lost. In that case Somerset would have needed 13 runs off two overs to win. Assuming Stevens bowled one over then that would have left one to be bowled by presumably Haggett or Cowdrey. On balance of probability Somerset would have got them or at least had the opportunity to get them. Kent would have had 12 balls to get a non DL victory. Two overs is 2% of the total game and RLC needs to build in "overtime" for such circumstances. Fine weather and full crowd. Sometimes the game I have loved for over 50 years does not help itself. Great batting from Notheast, Bell-Drummond and Billings. A collection of cameos from a number of Somerset players.

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