Tom Banton returned to form with the bat and Lewis Gregory produced some final-over heroics as Somerset clinched a thrilling Vitality Blast win over Hampshire at Taunton.
Banton smashed 77 off just 37 balls while Will Smeed provided a very useful 63* in Somerset’s 172-9.
The former Kings College pupils shared a boarding house and regularly scored runs opening the batting together. Such is their bromance that Banton came out for his post-match interview in Smeed’s shorts.
Hampshire fell eight runs short of the target, despite Colin De Grandhomme’s 66 off just 34 balls. Home captain Lewis Gregory held his nerve to make up for his poor first three overs, taking two wickets in the final over to seal a surprising victory.
Earlier former England Under-19 seamer Scott Currie claimed four for 31, but arguably the best bowling performance of the night came from a man who did not take a wicket in his four overs.
Marchant De Lange bowled an incredibly miserly spell, going for just 13 runs off his four overs. Very rarely do you see such a frugal four overs of T20 bowling go unrewarded in the wicket column.
De Grandhomme has had a pretty good week. World Test Champion in Southampton on Wednesday, dismissing his Black Caps teammate Devon Conway and James Hildreth on Friday, then scoring 66 runs to set up what he thought would have been a win for Hampshire at Taunton.
But after he slapped Gregory to Craig Overton at deep cover, the lower order could not finish the job for Hampshire.
Only two of Somerset’s XI reached double figures with the bat, but both of them then went on to 50 and further.
Smeed surprisingly was not allowed to bat until six tonight – Tom Lammonby, new signing Conway and Lewis Goldsworthy all came and failed before the man previously at number three. Smeed’s 63* included 58 for the fifth wicket with Banton – the only noteworthy partnership of the first innings.
Three consecutive balls from De Grandhomme to Banton encapsulated the modern game. Reverse pull, reverse sweep, scoop.
None of the three were in the traditional coaching manual less than 10 years ago. The former could arguably only have come into semi-regular use once Rishabh Pant outrageously played it against the leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson a few months ago (and again in the World Test Championship Final last week).
Gregory appeared to be on track for one of his worst displays as Somerset skipper, again failing with the bat, but after repeatedly feeding De Grandhomme long hops outside off stump he eventually had the key man caught at deep cover for 66.
But then made all things better, coming back so strongly at the death; three wickets making the 46 runs he went for less relevant when his final six balls clinched Somerset the game.
Weatherley got away with two miscued chips to leg in the penultimate over, just out of reach of despairing Somerset dives. Cue real tension and the best atmosphere felt at Taunton yet this season.
Having an even larger crowd due to the extra temporary stand was perfect timing to allow more cricket fans to witness such a great game.
Ben Green (harshly dropped and fielding for James Hildreth who was icing his hip) dropped Currie on the penultimate ball at cover, then claimed an even easier catch off the final ball to seal the win with aplomb.