Hamilton-Brown ton torments Somerset
Rory Hamilton-Brown was again Somerset’s Clydesdale Bank 40 scourge as his 87-ball hundred at the Kia Oval gave Surrey a flying start to their title defence.
The Surrey captain top-scored with 78 versus the same opponents in September’s CB40 final triumph and went 23 better today as his side began this year’s competition with a comprehensive 105-run win.
Hamilton-Brown shared an opening stand of 163 inside 23 overs with Steven Davies, who scored faster than his partner en route to 72 from 58 deliveries.
They took advantage of a weakened attack missing the rested Vernon Philander, the injured Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain, and Alfonso Thomas who is at the Indian Premier League.
Hamilton-Brown’s departure temporarily slowed Surrey’s progress, but they kicked on to 295 for six thanks in part to Tom Maynard and Zander de Bruyn adding 63 in 8.2 overs.
Nick Compton, the country’s in-form batsman with 479 LV= County Championship runs, gave Somerset hope with a smooth 53 from the top of the order.
Aside from pockets of resistance, though, the visitors’ batting struggled against disciplined bowling. Seamer Stuart Meaker plus spinners Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari chiefly profited with three wickets each.
James Hildreth, continuing to stand in for the injured Marcus Trescothick, won the toss and, given the cloud cover and chilly temperature, made a logical decision to insert a Surrey side showing just two changes from last year's final.
Hamilton-Brown’s leg-glanced four off Peter Trego set the tone as 12 came from the first over, and Davies then got into the act by cutting Trego to the rope.
Hamilton-Brown was reprieved on 13 when Jos Buttler put down a sharp chance at short midwicket off Jamie Overton. A driven four was his reply and, with 49 from the compulsory powerplay, the right-hander twice did likewise against Craig Meschede.
Davies greeted George Dockrell’s introduction by pulling the spinner for four and was given a life on 39 when Meschede put down a difficult return catch.
Hamilton-Brown lifted Dockrell over long-on for the first six before both going to 50 and bringing up Surrey’s 100 with two runs off Lewis Gregory.
Davies reached the landmark with a single off Dockrell, whom Hamilton-Brown then dispatched for a near-identical maximum. Buttler stunningly prevented another Hamilton-Brown six, off Max Waller, on the midwicket rope.
Davies survived on 62 when television replays of Waller’s athletic take at short midwicket proved inconclusive. However, the left-hander was bowled by Trego while walking across his stumps.
Hamilton-Brown went to three figures with a single to leg off Meschede. But, later in the over, he holed out to long-off where Arul Suppiah held on.
In the next, Jason Roy paid for an ambitious reverse-sweep when Waller trapped him in front. There was almost three wickets in as many overs, but Dockrell could not hold a high return catch from Maynard.
Somerset temporarily slowed the run-rate, but de Bruyn hit Waller for the first four in six overs to re-open the floodgates. Five came in the next two overs, bowled by Dockrell and Gregory.
Maynard, on 28, tamely chipped Gregory to Waller at midwicket and, in the next over, Meschede nipped one back to bowl de Bruyn for 34.
Ansari ended a brief boundary drought by top-edging two consecutive fours immediately before nicking Gregory behind. Batty topped up the total with fours from the last two balls, bowled by Meschede.
Somerset’s top-order big hitters fell in a powerplay that yielded just 34. Meaker yorked Craig Kieswetter and, after Compton had picked up three fours, Jon Lewis had Trego caught and bowled with a juggling, left-handed take.
Hildreth edged Lewis past a vacant first slip on five and survived being run out at the non-striker’s end on 11 when Compton sent him back. However, Hildreth had added only 10 more when he advanced beyond a Batty delivery to be stumped.
Buttler announced himself by reverse-sweeping Batty for four and Compton, who had pulled many of his six boundaries, had no sooner reached his fifty than he gave Ansari a return catch.
Suppiah nearly perished without scoring, but Hamilton-Brown could not hold on at backward short-leg off Batty. However, in the next over, he played on to Ansari.
Another reverse-sweep proved Buttler’s undoing, on 29, as he edged on to his front pad and looped a simple catch to wicketkeeper Davies.
Meschede began to rebuild until, having cracked Batty for six over cover the previous ball, he was bowled by the off-spinner for 20. Ansari should have had Gregory for 15, but deep cover de Bruyn put down his reverse-sweep off Ansari.
Waller briefly resisted before a failed reverse-sweep saw Ansari bowl him and, once Meaker had Gregory caught behind for a brave 25, the England Lions seamer belatedly knocked back Dockrell’s off stump with 11 deliveries to go.