Somerset Sabres are off the mark in National Cricket League Division Two after they beat Nottinghamshire Outlaws by 49 runs(Duckworth Lewis method)to give their supporters something to cheer about in the 45 over game.
After being put into bat the Sabres at last found their Sunday batting form when they posted an enormous 293 for 4 from 35 overs, after the game had been shortened because of the rain, thanks to a fine century from Jamie Cox and valuable fifties from debutant Carl Gazzard and new boy James Bryant.
The Sabres innings got off to a flying start with makeshift opener Gazzard, who was playing in place Aaron Laraman and Cox taking runs with ease. However after putting on 131in the 16th over Gazzard gave a catch to wicket-keeper Chris Read off his fellow Cornishman Charlie Shreck and was out for 58, which contained one magnificent six off Aussie Test bowler Stuart MacGill and nine fours.
Keith Dutch bought up the 150 with a leg glance off Gareth Clough, and added a bright and breezy 26, before the players left the field for rain. First ball back after the break MacGill tempted Dutch to a give a catch to the wicket-keeper.
New batsman James Bryant stood and watched as Cox hit MacGill for a six and a four over square leg and then saw his partner bring up the 200 in the next over.
The Tasmanian went to his century in some style when he hit MacGill over the Ridley Stand into the St James Churchyard and had moved onto 110 to equal his National League highest when he went down the wicket to Clough to became another victim for wicket keeper Read. As he walked back to the pavilion he received a standing ovation from the good sized crowd.
Bryant and Ian Blackwell added a swift 45, the left hander contributing 23 including six into the churchyard before he was bowled by Smith. Bryant went to his fifty with the first ball of the final over, by the end of which the Sabres had reached 293 for 4, by far their Sunday best so far this season.
Chasing a revised total of 315 under the Duckworth Lewis method the Outlaws appeared to be cruising towards an unlikely victory as Jason Gallian (69) and Usman Afzaal (105) put on 161 in 17 overs for the third wicket. Gallian then fell to a superb catch by Simon Francis at long on who appeared almost from nowhere to take the chance.
However from 201 for 3 the Outlaws collapsed to 265 all out, with Gareth Andrew and Francis ending with three wickets apiece to see the Sabres home to their first NCL victory of the season.
At the end of the game coach Kevin Shine told me: " After today's match you have to say that the game is pushing the boundaries out, and you are left wondering what is a safe score to defend."
He continued: "However we did mount some scoreboard pressure after posting our total, which was not easy for our batters after the interruptions that there were in our innings."
"Carl Gazzard had a fine debut, and took his chance when it came along which is what it is all about. It was great to see Jamie Cox back in that sort of form, and there were some responsible contributions from several of the others to set them a big total to chase. Then when we fielded we dealt with the pressure and took some vital catches," he concluded.
Regarding his first appearance for the county at this level Gazzard told me: "It was amazing really, and I must admit that I felt a bit nervous to start with, but I soon put that behind me. I only knew that I was playing late in the morning when Aaron Laraman dropped out, so I didn't have much time to think about it."
He continued: "We had such a good start and Jamie was a great help to me, he kept me going. I tried to treat every ball on it's merits, it didn't matter to me who was bowling it , even though they had Test bowlers like Australian MacGill and South African Steven Elworthy.playing for them."
"It was just a perfect start for me, and having got to where I did I would have liked to have gone on and got a hundred! However tomorrow I will be playing for the Seconds in a two day match at Bristol, and I will have another chance to score some more runs," the youngster said.