SOMERSET may have found their next one-day captain amid the disappointment of NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final defeat at Trent Bridge.
Lewis Gregory led the side for the first time in a limited-overs match against Notts Outlaws and impressed many on- lookers, despite the hosts achieving a five-wicket victory with nine balls to spare
Regular skipper Jim Allenby, who missed the game because of a hand injury, has announced that he will be leaving Somerset at the end of the season.
Gregory appears the obvious replacement unless the club elect to recruit from outside. He has already captained the four-day side to a Specsavers County Championship victory over Yorkshire this summer in the absence of the then out-of-form Tom Abell.
The 25-year-old Plymouth- born all-rounder is described as having a ‘good cricket brain’ by director of cricket Matthew Maynard and is ready to take on the extra responsibility.
After Thursday night’s quarter-final, Gregory said: ‘It was a new experience for me and, although it was very disappointing to finish on the losing side, it is hopefully a job I can potentially continue doing.
‘I was really proud of the lads in the way we fought back in the second half of the game, having been 25 or 30 runs short of where we needed to be with the bat.’
Maynard has also praised Gregory’s courage battling a painful back problem to play a full part in Somerset’s NatWest Blast campaign.
He is soon to undergo sur- gery on a recurrence of an old stress fracture injury, but still bowled well at Trent Bridge, returning figures of one for 20 from 3.3 overs.
Gregory could have had the operation weeks ago, but put it off in an effort to aid the team’s quest for silver- ware in a difficult season.
Maynard said: ‘Lewis has been feeling his back all the time and has been in great pain with it, so he has done a tremendous job.
‘He knew in his mind that Twenty20 matches meant no more than four overs and he could get through that.
‘The confirmation we re- ceived from his surgeon that he couldn’t make the injury any worse was crucial.
‘If it had not been for that, Lewis probably wouldn’t have played. He took some pain-killers before each game and got on with it.
‘You could see he was not 100 percent, but he is such a valuable asset to the team. He has a good cricket brain and is important to us with bat and ball.’
Somerset looked well placed to set Notts a bigger target when Steve Davies (59) and Peter Trego (40) led them to 102 for two in the 13th over.
Johann Myburgh had al- ready fallen for a first-ball duck and James Hildreth did the same as the home side claimed four wickets for the addition of only 16 runs.
Gregory admitted: ‘We have struggled at the back end of innings at times. But give credit to Notts, who bowled exceptionally well.
‘They put us under pressure throughout the 20 overs. We set our innings up pretty well, but just couldn’t get away by scoring sufficient boundaries at the end.
‘I felt like we were really in the game at times in the Notts reply, but then they had a couple of big overs, which we didn’t really get in the middle of our innings.
‘It was pretty comfortable for them in the end, but we gave it everything in the field and had them in trouble at 66 for four.
Samit Patel came to Notts’ rescue. And when he was run out by some nifty Gregory footwork for 45, Dan Christian played a captain’s innings of 36 not out to see his side to Finals Day.
Somerset’s fielding was brilliant on the night, Myburgh running out Brendan Taylor and Trego taking a superb, if controversial catch at mid-off, to remove Alex Hales.
The dangerous Hales felt Trego had taken the ball on the half-volley. But he was given out and, despite numerous TV replays, there was no clear evidence of the ball having hit the turf before being grasped by the Somerset all-rounder as he dived forward.
Max Waller and Roelof van der Merwe both performed well with the ball. But in the final analysis 151 for six was not a big enough total to defend on a ground where the average twenty20 score this summer has been
nearer 200. By the time 19 runs came from the 18th over of the Notts innings, bowled by Craig Overton, home fans were already in celebration mode.
The result meant their impressive team remains on course for a domestic treble, having already lifted the Royal London One-Day Cup and built a substantial lead at the top of the Second Divi- sion of the Specsavers County Championship.