JASON Kerr delivered a blunt verdict on Somerset’s four-wicket Vitality Blast by arch-rivals Gloucestershire at Bristol, admitting: “We were not good enough with bat or ball.”
The head coach was in no mood to offer excuses after Ian Cockbain’s 43 from 22 balls had helped the hosts gain revenge for defeat at Taunton a week earlier, reaching a target of 115 to win with five balls to spare in a match reduced by rain to 11 overs per side.
Friday night’s game drew a crowd of around 10,000 to the Brightside Ground and Somerset fans were left with a feeling of déjà vu as their team’s inconsistency as a one-day side was exposed again.
Kerr admitted: “There were glimpses of what we are looking for, but I never felt we had scored sufficient runs and we had to be at our absolute best when bowling, which we weren’t.
“Ultimately, the execution of our skills wasn’t good enough tonight. Our T20 practice has been going really well, but at the moment we are not producing under pressure on the pitch when it matters most.
“Our bowling is the biggest concern for me and the decision-making behind it. Twenty20 is frantic and we have a new captain in Lewis Gregory.
“We need to spend more time working on our skills. There is an opportunity to reflect before our next game against Middlesex and we have to use that time well.”
Asked whether Gregory’s indecision over signing a new contract was a factor in Somerset losing two of their first three South Group matches, Kerr added: “Not at all. Lewis has been very professional and his passion for Somerset is there for all to see.
“Hopefully, he will make a decision sooner, rather than later, so we can put this to bed. But I would never question his commitment to the cause.”
Back-to-back away games, against Middlesex at Lord’s and Glamorgan at Cardiff on Thursday and Friday, will be further tough tests of Somerset’s ability to mount a challenge in Twenty20 cricket this summer.
“You can turn things around quickly in this competition,” said Kerr. “The guys are hurting and licking their wounds at the moment, but I have no doubts that we will bounce back.
“It’s a massive challenge in a tough group, but teams are beating each other and by no means are we out of it. There is a long way to go.”
Somerset plan to make a new overseas signing for the last nine Vitality Blast group games, but defeats by Middlesex and Glamorgan might leave them too much ground to make up.
Kerr is more positive. “I look at it that if we win those last nine matches we will probably finish top of the group,” he said. “We are looking to strengthen our T20 squad and as soon as there is some definite news we will share it.”
Heavy rain delayed the start at Bristol until 8.15 pm and Gloucestershire predictably elected to field after Michael Klinger won the toss.
The hosts had fielded poorly at Taunton. This time they were aided by a stunning Miles Hammond catch at extra cover to break an opening stand of 27 in 2.4 overs between Johann Myburgh and Steve Davies, who fell for 17.
More good work from Klinger’s men led to Cockbain running out Myburgh with a direct hit at the bowler’s end from backward point.
From 48 for four at the end of the sixth over, Gregory and Corey Anderson lifted the tempo with sixes off Tom Smith, whose previous over had seen James Hildreth and Peter Trego dismissed with successive balls.
Anderson then hit two maximums in the tenth over, sent down by Ryan Higgins, and when Andrew Tye, whose first two overs had cost only ten, went for 14 off the last, Somerset had a challenging score of 114 for eight.
But the dangerous Anderson had faced only 17 balls for his unbeaten 40 and might have gone in higher than number five. “Corey was starved of the strike,” insisted Kerr. “The other batsmen have been doing really well, but it wasn’t their night.”
Gloucestershire’s hopes suffered a blow in the first over of their reply when Klinger, who had already hit a straight six, got an inside edge to Craig Overton and was caught behind. Fellow opener Hammond fell to Max Waller and after two overs the home side were 15 for two. The power plays were 3.2 overs and Noema-Barnett’s six off Gregory helped the hosts to 32 for two, compared to Somerset’s 32 for one at the same stage. Noema-Barnett looked threatening in making 25 before mistiming a Gregory full toss to extra cover.
When he departed Cockbain took charge with sixes off Gregory and Trego, whose one over, the seventh of the innings, cost 19.
Higgins was caught at extra cover off a van der Merwe full toss with 34 still needed, but Jack Taylor hit Jamie Overton for two sixes and a four in the ninth over and Gloucestershire had the necessary momentum to clinch victory.