Report: Essex v Somerset, Finals Day Final
Somerset became Vitality Blast champions for only the second time after beating Essex by 14 runs in a captivating final at Edgbaston.
For the second time in the day, the westcountrymen skilfully defended a smallish total. Composed bowling and brilliant fielding saw them see off their south group rivals and deservedly clinch the trophy.
Put in, Somerset were restricted to 145 all out as Shane Snater harvested 4-1-13-3 (including that T20 gold, a wicket maiden in the powerplay) and Paul Walter three for 29. Just as in the semi-final against Surrey earlier in the day, Lewis Gregory’s side was indebted to Sean Dickson for shoring up a creaking innings. His 53 (35 balls) ensured a testing target on a pitch on which fluent batting was never easy.
Essex’s top order was then ravaged by a burst of three for six in seven balls by Matt Henry as a promising 27 without loss became a ruinous 55 for five. There was no way back from there as they finished on 131 all out, Henry’s early menace (four for 24) being match at the other end of the innings by Ish Sodhi (three for 22).
It was superb T20 cricket from Somerset and nobody can deny their right to be 2023 champions having won a remarkable 15 of their 17 games in the tournament.
Somerset launched their innings perkily with 17 from two overs before Snater started with a maiden including the wicket of Will Sneed, who played on. When Tom Banton reverse-swept to short third man, Snater’s figures were two for none from eight balls.
As Somerset continued to stutter, Tom Kohler-Cadmore tried to cut a ball too far up to him and was bowled by Matt Critchley and Tom Abell chipped Paul Walter to mid on. Dickson and Lewis Gregory added 45, without ever fully escaping the shackles, before Snater returned to oust Gregory via a return catch.
Craig Overton’s departure, run out by Aaron Beard’s direct hit from deep square, heightened the feeling that this was Essex’s day. Dickson equalled his T20 best before gloving Paul Walter behind.
Essex’s reply was violently launched by Adan Rossington who thumped four fours in a nine-ball 19 before smashing Henry to cover where Kasey Aldridge took a stinging catch with aristocratic aplomb. That triggered a massive swing as Henry followed up with two huge wickets as Michael Pepper was bowled and Dan Lawrence lbw, playing across the line. When Robin Das lifted Craig Overton to mid on, four wickets had fallen for 17 runs in 16 balls.
Gregory inflicted further damage by trapping Critchley lbw which left Essex’s hopes sitting squarely on the burly shoulders of 6ft 7in Walter. He stirred those hopes by moving to 26 from 24 balls but then attempted to add six more from Sodhi’s third delivery and his bails flew.
Essex needed 50 from seven overs with just the lower order left. They bat deep, but that was a challenge too far as Gregory induced a fatal edge from Harmer and Sodhi spun one on to Snater’s middle stump. Daniel Sams (45, 26 balls) jangled a Somerset nerve or two but when he fell to a brilliant catch at short third man by Kohler-Cadmore the fireworks were unleashed and the cider could start to flow.
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