TWENTY20 CUP EDGBASTON (Somerset won toss): Somerset (173-6, 0pts) lost to Warwickshire (177-6, 2pts) by four wickets
It was, perhaps, fitting that Michael Powell should seal victory for Warwickshire last night.
His contribution might not look like much in the scorebook - only 10 from five deliveries - by in terms of the match it was a vital performance and entirely reflective of the team nature of this success.
There were four wickets and only two balls remaining when Powell drove the winning four back over the head of former team-mate Alfonso Thomas, thus clinching a win that was the product of excellent team work.
It was a sixth successive victory for Warwickshire in this year’s competition and confirmed their place in the quarter-finals.
One more point, or the failure of Northants to claim maximum points from their games, will also ensure a home draw worth about £50,000 to the club.
Jim Troughton won the man-of-the-match award for his aggressive innings of 57 (30 balls) but there were, once again, many heroes in this performance.
Tim Groenewald, for example.
The seamer was called into the attack with Somerset’s openers making a rampaging start (60 without loss after five overs) and responded by dismissing all three of Somerset’s left-handed dangermen in only five deliveries.
Ant Botha, meanwhile, produced a display that said everything about the reasons why Ashley Giles appointed him as stand-in captain.
Botha delivered four mean overs, dismissing Craig Kieswetter with his first ball, before promoting himself up the order and producing a nerveless display of batting that settled a contest that could have gone either way.
And Jonathan Trott (37 balls, four fours and a six), who passed 1,000 runs in the format and for Warwickshire in this competition, again provided the foundations of his side’s innings with a calm yet positive contribution.
But it was Troughton’s innings (six fours, three sixes) that stood out.
Three times he swept sixes, twice off the medium-pace of Charl Willoughby, while his footwork to the spinners and his speed between the wickets made a daunting total appear easy.
Though Warwickshire lost Neil Carter to the first ball of their response, a stand of 89 in 38 balls (Warwickshire’s highest of this campaign) between Trott and Troughton put them well ahead of the required rate.
When Troughton missed a drive and Trott top-edged a sweep Warwickshire might have stumbled.
Yet Tony Frost, Botha and even Luke Parker all contributed, with the captain’s straight six in the penultimate over being the moment when the balance shifted once and for all in Warwickshire’s favour.
Earlier, Somerset were given a perfect start by Marcus Trescothick and Justin Langer. Trescothick, driving straight and powerfully, took two sixes off Chris Martin while Langer plundered the unforuntate Chris Woakes for four boundaries in an over.
Yet a perfect yorker by Groenewald accounted for the Australian before, two balls later, Trescothick drove to mid-on.
When the leaden-footed Ian Blackwell followed two balls after that, it caused such a slowdown in the rate that Somerset scored only 58 in ten overs in mid-innings.
Somerset’s seventh-wicket pair, Omari Banks and Aruul Suppiah, gave the visitors renewed hope with a stand of 66 in only seven overs. Indeed, the last four overs of the innings realised 46 as Suppiah thrashed a Groenwald full toss out of the ground and followed it with a straight drive for another six off the very next ball.
It was the highest total Warwickshire had conceded against Somerset and the seventh highest they’ve conceded in the six-year history of the competition.
Warwickshire were not, perhaps, quite so sharp in the field as in previous games.
They gave away seven extras, with Neil Carter delivering two no-balls, and Woakes struggling to bowl to his tight field.
Yet they were still impressive. The spinners,
Ian Salisbury and Botha, conceded just 47 in their eight overs while Groenewald’s figures were only punished by his conceding 17 in his final over.
There was only one cloud on the horizon.
The failure of the scoreboard - or its operator - to keep up with on-field events caused the umpires to suspend play in the concluding moments, insisting - quite rightly - that the competitors knew exactly what was required of them.
It is a shame that anything should detract attention from the team at the moment of triumph but the board has become a consistent embarrassment to the club and simply must go.
One asset that the club will surely be fighting to keep, however, is the service of Carter.
He is out of contract at the end of the season and is the subject of an official approach from Glamorgan.
Warwickshire have already opened contract talks, however, and are quietly confident that Carter will remain at Edgbaston for next season.
The fact that he is no more than two or three years from a benefit season might also prove persuasive.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a former Warwickshire ‘great’ continues his journey back into cricket’s mainstream. Dermot Reeve has been offered the position of director of cricket at Central Districts and is mulling over a contract.
Professional cricket will surely be richer for his involvement.
Navdeep Poonia, the Warwickshire batsman, has been chosen in the Scotland squad to play the touring New Zealanders in a one-day international at Mannofield Park, Aberdeen, on Thursday next week. Calum MacLeod, the Warwickshire 19-year-old pace bowler, misses out because of injury.
In the three-team event, Scotland play Ireland next Wednesday, the day after Ireland play New Zealand.