Gloucestershire v Somerset, NatWest T20 Blast, South Group, Bristol June 19, 2015

Myburgh improves Somerset fortunes

Somerset 166 for 5 (Myburgh 63, Smith 2-23) beat Gloucestershire 165 for 8 (Klinger 44) by five wickets
Scorecard

Johann Myburgh anchored the Somerset chase (file photo) © Getty Images

It is hard to walk around Bristol and not see something about the NatWest T20 Blast. Billboards, bus stations and, most conspicuously, the train station are laden with advertising for the season. "T20 cricket in the heart of Bristol" they read - and this west country derby felt like a culmination of that concerted marketing push.

Although the result was unlikely to dampen the fervour of a raucous crowd it was Somerset, with a canny performance with the ball and a powerful one with the bat, who delivered a painful blow to Gloucestershire's season by chasing their target with five wickets and two balls to spare. Johann Myburgh's 50-ball 63 anchored Somerset's chase but Max Waller, Sohail Tanvir and Jim Allenby deserve enormous credit for their frugal bowling that set up Somerset's win.

Somerset had won five of their last six away matches in Bristol and, in front of a sell-out crowd and apartment balconies teeming with fans, their quality set them apart from Gloucestershire as they just edged them in all three departments and held their nerve at the pivotal moments.

Back-to-back sixes clubbed by Tom Cooper in the penultimate over of Somerset's run chase with 19 required from 11 and consecutive wides bowled by James Fuller in the final over will be looked back on as match-deciding, and that they were in a chase that became far more tense than it need have been, but Somerset were ahead of the match from the start.

The Powerplay, plundered for 59 for 1 by Somerset in comparison to Gloucestershire's 37 for 1, represented the difference between the two teams. On a pitch that was perhaps harder to bat on than first impressions suggested, with the ball seaming and beating the edge, Allenby and Myburgh used their feet excellently in the initial overs, forcing Gloucestershire to adjust their lengths. Earlier, Gloucestershire, perhaps overwhelmed by the occasion or taken aback by a pitch not quite as true as they had imagined, allowed Somerset to dictate terms with the ball.

Allenby, Tanvir and Gregory bowled five outstanding overs at the start of the match, keeping tight lines and using canny cutters. Peter Handscomb fell for a seven-ball duck and Michael Klinger, in such rich T20 form, was also effectively tied down.

Although 15 was taken from the last over of the Powerplay, Klinger and Ian Cockbain were unable to truly break free. The closest they came to doing so was when Cockbain swatted a short ball bowled by Gregory straight down the ground for six. Unfazed, Gregory banged the following ball in halfway down the pitch and Cockbain, unable to get on top of it, was caught well in the deep.

Waller's superb spell of 4-0-21-1 kept Gloucestershire down in the middle overs. Delivering a plethora of googlies, which cramped the batsmen for room, and varying his pace and angles expertly, Waller broke Gloucestershire's rhythm, and deserved more than just the one wicket he took when Geraint Jones top-edged a slog sweep high in the air.

Waller's pressure no doubt contributed to the downfall of Klinger, who was dismissed by Allenby for 44 when he was caught on the boundary off a low full toss. When Kieran Noema-Barnett fell for 6, Gloucestershire were 115 for 5 with just 27 deliveries remaining.

However,three sixes, two fours, and some frantic running from Gloucestershire's lower order squeezed an impressive 42 from the final 18 deliveries to elevate the home side to 165 for 8, a score that was perhaps a tad under par but certainly defendable.

Somerset were without Chris Gayle, now at the Caribbean Premier League, and Marcus Trescothick, who was officially rested, but the lack of star-quality made little difference to events as Allenby launched into some loose bowling early on, plundering six boundaries in his 27.

It is to Gloucestershire's credit that they never let things run out of control, with the required run rate remaining above seven and climbing steadily from the 11th over until the 18th. Spinners Tom Smith and Jack Taylor both bowled excellently, conceding no more than six runs per over. Like Somerset, they bowled very straight and relatively flat.

Myburgh, a small man, was inconspicuous as Allenby muscled the ball away in the Powerplay, but his innings proved pivotal - no other Somerset batsman managed more than 27. Wickets fell at regular intervals but Myburgh remained until as late as the 18th over when he was brilliantly caught by Handscomb. A lively crowd rose once again to fever pitch as they sensed the possibility of a late and dramatic shift but it never came as Somerset claimed a deserved victory.

Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket

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  • JG2704 on June 20, 2015, 8:40 GMT

    Also re Alf's captaincy - I felt we won despite what he did and not because of it. I've always said in T20 games you should be MORE reactive. If someone goes for runs (without looking like taking a wicket) take him off straight away. If a bowler is giving the side control , keep him on and even bowl him out. I thought Tanvir showed far more control early in the Gloucs inns. Why not bowl him through while he has rhythm? Also I thought the move to bring him up the order looked dodgy and I feel nearly cost us the game. If it wasn't for Cooper's fireworks and Hildreths guile it probably would have Finally , what a shame that Sky never covered any of Gayle's games. You'd have thought they could have rescheduled a game so that one of his inns got aired.

  • JG2704 on June 20, 2015, 8:30 GMT

    Decent result and a decent game but 2 mediocre looking sides. Somerset's looked so bowler heavy and we totally lack the quality and depth to do much in the Blast. Tres's days looked numbered in SFs if he is not picked when we already have a bare cupboard , Jos and Craig K have left/retired and Trego looks half the player in these matches that he did last year. Not that long ago we'd have had a top 6 that included Tres (decent version) , Kies , Trego , Hildreth , Pollard and Jos - where's it all gone? Also what's happened to Alf? Used to be one of the games best T20 bowlers and hit yorkers with regularity. He now seems to be expensive every game and his 1st over always seems to go for runs and swing the momentum the other way.

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