Match Report: Somerset vs. Kent Spitfires

Match Report: Somerset vs. Kent Spitfires

After two home matches, Kent Spitfires’ final South Group match of the 2023 Vitality Blast was against Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton.

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An injury-hit Kent Spitfires’ hopes of grabbing the last quarter-final place in the Vitality Blast were dashed by Somerset, who pulled off a 15-run win at Taunton.

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The Spitfires, who were without tournament top run-scorer Daniel Bell-Drummond & experienced players in Joe Denly, Wes Agar, Fred Klaassen & Kane Richardson, won the Toss and elected to field on a windy Taunton evening.

Will Smeed led the assault by the home side after losing the toss, with 61 off 28 balls, while Sean Dickson (41), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (31) and Lewis Gregory (37) made contributions to a score of 221 for seven.  Grant Stewart claimed four for 48, but left-arm spinner George Linde was the pick of the Kent bowlers with two for 25.

In reply, the Spitfires, looking to overtake Essex in the table, posted 206 for seven, Joey Evison cracking 46 off 24 balls, Jack Leaning 41 and skipper Sam Billings 36.

Despite claiming the early wicket of Tom Banton, caught and bowled off a waist-high Grant Stewart delivery, Somerset made 63 runs inside the powerplay.

Smeed was soon taking advantage of a true batting pitch with a short boundary on the town side of the ground. He and Kohler-Cadmore responded to the loss of Banton with a string of sweetly-struck boundaries.

Both cleared the ropes in the power play and had taken the score to 72 in the eighth over when Kohler-Cadmore was caught at long-on off Stewart, having faced just 18 balls.

Smeed went past 2,000 T20 runs with his fourth six, launched over cover off Stewart, before going to a 23-ball fifty that delighted a packed crowd at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Another exhilarating mixture of muscular blows and deft touches ended when 21-year-old Smeed, yet to play in a first class match, swept a ball from Linde and was caught at deep backward square, with the total 103 in the tenth over.

Tom Abell also fell to a sweep shot off Linde, Jordan Cox taking a brilliant diving catch. But Dickson ensured there was no slowing of the scoring rate, hitting 3 sixes and 2 fours in a stand of 47 in less than five overs with Gregory.

The former Kent player was eventually caught behind off what would have been a wide from Stewart, but Gregory’s 19-ball innings guaranteed Somerset a challenging total.

Kent’s hopes of chasing it down suffered an early blow when opener Tawanda Muyeye hit a six off Matt Henry’s first ball of the second over before lifting a catch to mid-on off the next delivery.

Alex Blake threatened briefly, smashing a big six off Henry in racing to 24 off just 10 balls before being run out backing up as the New Zealand seamer fingertipped a drive from Billings onto the stumps.

Billings began watchfully, but cleared the ropes for the first time off Ben Green in the seventh over, fetching a ball from outside off stump and dispatching it over deep square. The Spitfires had ended the power play on 63 for three, still in the game.

Billings greeted the introduction of leg-spinner Ish Sodhi with a six over long-on and was warming to his task with successive boundaries off Gregory before Somerset’s captain struck back by bowling him with the last ball of the ninth over.

Leaning responded with a six over deep square off Overton and followed up with a four to third-man as 17 came off the 11th over.

Experienced leg-spinner Sodhi had Linde caught at long-off and Kent required 103 from the last eight. Some defiant blows from Leaning and Evison reduced the target to 69 from five.

Evison then hit Green for six as 16 came off the 16th over. Leaning followed up by clearing the ropes off Davey, but when he fell to Gregory two overs later, having faced 30 balls, Somerset regained control and Evison’s impressive effort ended when he was caught off Henry to kill off Kent hopes.

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Kent skipper Sam Billings said: “We fancied chasing 222, but even in defeat I am really proud of the lads, losing by only 15 runs to a very good side.

“Somerset have three international bowlers in their team and it showed tonight. Of course, we took notice of the Essex result earlier, but even before that we felt we could come here and win.

“Four or five injuries have taken a toll. So, while we are very disappointed to miss out on the quarter-finals, we can take a lot from how we played. Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly were huge losses for us.”

Kent Spitfires return to Beckenham this August!

See the 2023 One Day Cup winners look to retain their title in two one-day clashes at The County Ground, Beckenham:

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