Sun sets on Somerset's epic season
Posted in Domestic Cricket
Somerset had 56 competitive games this season, but the one they missed out on cost them as much as £1.28million.
That is the difference between what they took home for reaching the Champions League T20 semi-finals and what Mumbai Indians earned by winning the competition.
Until missing out on yesterday’s final, Somerset took part in every match open to them at the start of the season.
While the £320,000 they picked up in Champions League prize money will be of some consolation to the Taunton-based county, it was ultimately another year of frustration.
Pre-season favourites for the LV= County Championship title, Marcus Trescothick’s side repeated last year’s disastrous start to lose their first two fixtures – both by an innings this time.
Like the previous campaign, they recovered to challenge for the title but Lancashire, Warwickshire and Durham’s impressive number of wins (10, nine and eight respectively) consigned Somerset to fourth.
They continued to excel in limited-overs cricket, comfortably winning their Clydesdale Bank 40 pool and overcoming no results in a quarter of their Friends Life t20 group games to reach the last eight.
Their remaining passage to the FLt20 final could hardly have been more difficult, but they beat North Division winners Nottinghamshire by six wickets at Trent Bridge and overcame defending champions and southern table-toppers Hampshire in the semi-final, via a one-over eliminator.
Less than an hour later they faced unfancied Leicestershire in the Edgbaston finals day showpiece. Having lost the previous two t20 finals, surely lightning could not strike thrice? It did, by 18 runs, and Somerset had to settle for a place in the Champions League qualifier.
It said much about first XI coach Andy Hurry’s charges that they recovered from that setback to, two days later, secure a home CB40 semi with a 40-run win over Essex.
Victory over the Eagles came at a price with Trescothick injuring his ankle and missing his side’s last three championship contests, all of which ended in defeat. The former England opener had amassed 1,673 runs, which turned out to be 301 more than his nearest Division One challenger, Murray Goodwin, who played three more times.
Somerset coped without Trescothick in the CB40 semi, defeating Durham by 39 runs, and were boosted by his return for the final with Surrey at Lord’s.
However, having lost to Warwickshire in the previous domestic season finale, they suffered all-too-familiar heartache, the Lions prevailing by five wickets under Duckworth/Lewis.
Somerset had little time to reflect on their fifth final defeat in three seasons as they had to leave that evening for the CLT20 qualifier in India, again without PCA Player of the Year and FTI MVP Trescothick who no longer plays abroad due to a stress-related illness.
Three days later – led by Alfonso Thomas but missing England players Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler, with third-choice wicketkeeper Steve Snell in situ – they saw off Auckland Aces.
Next day they defeated Kolkata Knight Riders to reach the competition proper, which they began by beating the same opponents.
Moving from Hyderabad to Bangalore, Somerset suffered a wash-out versus South Australia and defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore, meaning they had to beat the Warriors in their last group game to progress.
With Kieswetter and Buttler restored, the South African franchise lost and Somerset went a stage better than their other Champions League adventure in 2009.
Now in Chennai, Mumbai stood between Thomas’ team and a guaranteed £845,000 for reaching the final plus a shot at the £1.6million top prize.
In the Indians’ ranks was Kieron Pollard – who this season and last represented Somerset in domestic t20 – but it was another superstar of the shortest form, Lasith Malinga, whose four cheap wickets sealed a 10-run win.
So more anticlimax for Somerset, but one of county cricket’s most entertaining sides can reflect on another outstanding campaign that so nearly ended in a lucrative 57th game.