Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Johann Myburgh's 42-ball ton flattens Essex to maintain quarter-final push

Johann Myburgh hit a blistering hundred Getty Images

Somerset 136 for 0 (Myburgh 103*) beat Essex 135 for 9 (Chopra 43, J Overton 3-23, Taylor 3-28) by 10 wickets

Johann Myburgh's 42-ball hundred led Somerset to a thumping ten-wicket win against an abject Essex to take them one step closer to a quarter-final spot.

Well set at 82 for 2, Essex limped to 135 for 9 after winning the toss, a score which looked a long way short of par even on a used Taunton wicket.

And so it proved, as Myburgh blitzed 16 fours and three sixes in his maiden ton to seal a comprehensive victory with 52 balls to spare.

"When you go out there chasing a lowish score, it gives you a bit of freedom at the top," Myburgh said. "I like to put pressure on the other team...in T20 cricket, that's the way you've got to play. Confidence has been pretty high for a while now. We've been pretty consistent [in T20], and we know we can win ways in different games - we aren't relying on one formula."

At the halfway point of their innings, Essex had looked set for a competitive total. Varun Chopra - still the only member of their batting line-up to have made it to 50 in this tournament - and captain Ryan ten Doeschate were well-set. The pitch was used and sticky, but possessed few demons.

The pair patiently knocked the ball around for singles, looking to put any loose balls away. But Somerset were disciplined. As usual, Lewis Gregory rang the changes - each of the final ten overs was a one-over spell - and once the wickets started to fall, Essex were unable to recover. In one 47-ball period, they hit just one boundary, as Ravi Bopara and Michael Pepper scratched around, desperate to take the innings deep in the hope of a late assault.

The assault never came. Essex made only 58 for 7 in the final ten overs, and never put any pressure on the Somerset attack; Chopra's six off the ninth ball of the innings was the only one of the innings. It was the performance of a team shorn of any confidence after a disastrous T20 campaign so far. With four points in eight games, they will need at least five wins from their final six games to have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals. On the basis of this showing, they'll be lucky to get any.

Somerset, meanwhile, were disciplined and ruthless with the ball. Jamie Overton bowled with the pace and hostility that has caused his name to be discussed by England's selectors in the past two weeks, bowling fuller than his standard short-form length, and for the first time in his T20 career, he went at less than a run-a-ball while bowling his full allocation.

Jerome Taylor added three final-over wickets to his 5 for 15 on Wednesday night, while Roelof van der Merwe bowled with guile and nous through the middle overs. It was a display, befitting of a side who - with Gloucestershire and Kent still to play tonight - went top of the group, albeit temporarily.

The question mark looming over Somerset's season to date was their top-order batting. In their past four T20 games (excluding their rain-reduced game against Surrey), they had won four times despite losing three wickets in the Powerplay; while their middle-order's hitting had often been spectacular, there was a feeling that the streak was unsustainable.

They decided to change things. Steven Davies, a veteran of 136 games in the format, was left out for England Under-19 captain Tom Banton. Some might have nervous filling such shoes - not Banton. Facing Jamie Porter, charging in from the River End with a point to prove after his omission from the Test side this week, Banton ramped the fourth ball he faced for an audacious six.

But it was Myburgh who stole the show. With 129 runs in eight innings going into this game, there were questions over his spot in the team, but a low total and a license to free his arms left him with the perfect opportunity to swing his way into form. Essex's only hope was Adam Zampa, their tenacious Australian legspinner who, with 11 wickets and an economy rate below seven, has been the lone star of a poor T20 campaign. He was brought on to bowl the fourth over, needing an early wicket; Myburgh whacked him for 19.

Myburgh's pyrotechnics did not stop there. Matt Coles' first three balls were thrashed to the fence for four but he was still getting started. Peter Siddle was Myburgh's next target, whose second over was crunched for four fours and a six. The second of those fours summed up Essex's despair. For once, Myburgh failed to time the ball. It looped up over cover, just beyond the reach of the diving Paul Walter, who - perhaps with one eye on the start of the English football season tomorrow - headed the ball and sent in on its way to the boundary. In the blink of any eye, Myburgh had reached a 22-ball 50.

At 77 without loss after the Powerplay, Somerset's victory was a formality, and it was just a question of how many Myburgh would make. Two brutal strokes for four off Coles took him into the 70s, before a six and a four off Bopara brought him to within touching distance of a maiden hundred.

With 11 needed, Myburgh stroked Walter for four past the diving cover fielder. He roared in celebration, and seven balls later, the most decisive of victories was sealed.