Arguably the most star-studded line-ups of the T20 Blast, the best saved until last, white-ball specialists Notts travel to oh-so-nearly men Somerset in the bank holiday weekend’s final fixture on Sunday afternoon.
Somerset v Nottinghamshire in white-ball quarter-finals has become a regular fixture in recent times. Last year there was that phenomenal 834-run 50-over quarter-final at Taunton followed by a controversial `did that catch carry’ fuelled T20 last-eight match at Trent Bridge.
The Outlaws prevailed in both matches, going on to win both competitions and show all their white-ball dominance. But with two Taylors and Chris Read no longer playing in Nottingham they have struggled somewhat this season, only securing their quarter-final spot in a winner-takes-all final group game at Headingley last Friday.
A certain Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard and Craig Kieswetter (all no longer with the club) took Somerset to victory last time they beat Notts in a knockout fixture, at Trent Bridge in 2011. Far more recently; Samit Patel, Steven Mullaney and Dan Christian combined convincingly to cruise the Outlaws to Somerset’s below par 151-6 exactly one year ago this Friday.
A cracking Championship win for second-placed Somerset on Wednesday afternoon had some gloss taken off it by Lancashire’s six-run loss to leaders Surrey, but they’ll still take plenty of confidence into this match.
Notts however were severely outplayed by a previously struggling Hants side, effectively ruling Nottinghamshire out of the Championship title race, though a win over leaders Surrey at the Oval next week would put another spanner in the works.
Corey Anderson used to be an all-rounder, but in recent years persistent back injuries has curtailed his left-arm seam bowling and he’s concentrated on his batting. Such is the class and brute force of the man in T20s, as a true all-rounder he is still worthy of being a top overseas cricketer in just one of his disciplines-batting.
The Kiwi left-hander is Somerset’s top scorer in the competition this year, with 460 runs already, despite regular top-order failings Anderson has held the key for Somerset continuing to score rapidly throughout their T20 innings this season.
Alex Hales, Riki Wessels, Mullaney, Patel, Christian, a gun batting line-up including these five key men who all played massive roles in taking the Outlaws to both white-ball competition silverware last campaign, but the one major difference in an otherwise similar white-ball line-up sees Peter Moores’ son Tom Moores, keeping after the retirement of former Devon and England man Chris Read.
Moores is a more destructive batsman than Read and his left-handed youthful attacking style brings a different dimension of problems for opposition sides. The left, right combination of batting in limited overs cricket is something Notts did not require in last year’s success, but provides a slight further annoyance for opposing skippers.
Captain Lewis Gregory was the biggest injury scare having not bowled at all on the final day of Somerset’s dramatic last-gasp win over Essex in the County Championship on Wednesday. He sustained a groin injury on day 3, former England Test player Craig Overton would not be a bad replacement were he not to recover in time.
Somerset squad: Tom Abell, Corey Anderson, Dom Bess, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Lewis Gregory (c), James Hildreth, Johann Myburgh, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Jerome Taylor, Peter Trego, Roelof van der Merwe and Max Waller
Stuart Broad is not able to feature in the Notts squad, despite other England Test players playing in the other quarter-finals.
Notts squad: Jake Libby, Steven Mullaney, Riki Wessels, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Matt Carter, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Paul Coughlin, Dan Christian, Ish Sodhi, Billy Root
Weather and conditions
As always, the Somerset wicket will inevitably be another belter this weekend, so strap yourself in with a hard hat if you’re in the crowd – expect sixes, and plenty of them! No score will be seen as enough by the side batting first, and no chase too big for the team using the Taunton pitch second.
Early weather forecasts had a risk of showers around the Westcountry on Sunday, remember Somerset’s particularly poor record in reduced overs matches in recent times.
Date: 26th August 2018
Ground: Cooper Associates County Ground
Odds (SkyBet): Somerset 10/11, Notts 10/11