Somerset v Essex Eagles
The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton
Wednesday 09 June
Essex Eagles commence the Vitality Blast campaign on Wednesday evening when they face Somerset at Taunton, with play commencing at 6:30pm.
The Eagles won the competition for the first time in 2019 but have since made several changes to their line-up with Cameron Delport and Adam Zampa not returning following last season’s campaign.
New Zealand international, Jimmy Neesham has linked up with the Eagles filling one of the two Overseas slots, and featured in Tuesday’s Second XI double-header against Hampshire, hitting a half-century.
The Eagles once again will be skippered by Simon Harmer, who occupies the second Overseas position after previously being registered as a Kolpak player.
The Coaches View:
Head Coach Anthony McGrath is looking for improvements in the T20 game after a below-par performance last season.
“Although we won the T20 in 2019, the 20-over game remains a challenge for us,” Eagles Head Coach Anthony McGrath admitted.
“There’s no doubt that we can be successful as we showed two years ago but we need to show consistency in our performances. We haven’t hit those heights consistently.
“We want to solve that and want to get better, obviously. I think our home record has been poor in T20 and we want to address that too, so that is something that we need to target.”
Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr is also looking for improvement from his charges. Somerset have won only 10 of 24 group matches over the past two seasons, failing to reach Finals Day since 2018.
He stated: “We talk a lot about how much talent there is in the squad. That now has to come down to performance.
“T20 revolves around fine margins and we’ve challenged the guys to be clearer in their thinking and bolder when it comes to making those decisions out in the middle.
Young players need time because they are often inconsistent. We’ll keep backing them because of the potential they’ve got to win us games of cricket in the future.”
Dan Lawrence will miss the beginning of the Vitality Blast campaign whilst on International duty with England.
Coach: Jason Kerr
Captain: Lewis Gregory
Last Year’s Performance: 4th (Central Group)
2020 Leading Runscorer: Tom Abell (227 @ 32.42)
2020 Leading Wicket Taker: Ollie Sale (13 @ 23.15)
Overseas players: Marchant de Lange (South Africa – whole tournament), Devon Conway (New Zealand – nine Group Stage games)
Key man: Lewis Gregory – Somerset’s T20 skipper is capable of blasting quick runs at the end of an innings and taking key wickets, both as an opening bowler and at the death.
Flies under the radar: Max Waller – Having developed into a specialist T20 bowler, the economical leg-spinner often opens the attack and can pin batsmen down with his variety of delivery and subtle changes of pace.
Young Gun: Tom Banton – The 22-year-old batsman’s vast array of punishing shots have already earned him nine T20 appearances for England and six one-day international appearances. Banton can also keep wicket as an alternative to Steve Davies.
Blast expectations: Director of cricket Andy Hurry and Head Coach Jason Kerr make no secret of expecting to win every competition their team enter. This season’s Blast is no exception. But Somerset have won only ten of 24 group matches over the past two seasons, failing to reach Finals Day since 2018, and will need a much greater degree of consistency to stand any chance of lifting the trophy.
Only Tom Abell and Babar Azam scored more than 200 runs in last season’s group stage and Somerset will be looking to some of their young guns in Tom Banton, Tom Lammonby, Lewis Goldsworthy and Will Smeed. Skipper Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton will be their pick of the bowlers, aided by Max Waller, while Roelof van der Merwe’s all-round skills, including those in the field, will again be important to their plans.
The two sides haven’t met each other on too many occasions in the T20 format but Somerset were the victors last time round at Taunton with a comprehensive 10 wicket win.
Johann Myburgh was the difference thrashing an unbeaten 103 from just 44 balls. It included 3 sixes and 16 fours as he laid into the opposition attack, aidly supported by Tom Banton who was 29 not out when the winning line was reached.
How To Watch:
There will be a Live Stream service, courtesy of Somerset and this will be available via the Essex Cricket Matchzone, which also includes player stats, scorecards and clips throughout the day.
Access via the Essex Cricket Matchzone is available here.