Somerset fall short for a sixth time in three seasons
Lord’s: Surrey 189-5 off 27.3 overs (Hamilton-Brown 78) beat Somerset 214 all out off 39.2 overs (Buttler 86; Dernbach 4-30) by 5 wickets (Duckworth/Lewis Method)
Marcus Trescothick cut a pale, dejected figure, unable to analyse or articulate the reasons why Somerset had finished runners-up again. On this stage last year, twice in the Twenty20 finals and once in the Championship last year they had been unable to get over the line. And so it happened again.
“Mate, I just don’t know,” he said when asked why it kept happening. “It’s probably over to you guys to tell me because I’ve run out of ideas to try and improve things.”
Contrast that with the victors. Surrey, four-day promotion secured two days ago, were well and truly strutting. The young captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, who made 78, and Jade Dernbach, the man of the match who had arrived in London at 2.30 this morning from his England endeavours in Cardiff, sat side by side, smiling, joking and philosophising about the new era at Surrey.
Dernbach, 25, is a Surrey veteran despite his South African accent. He remembers the last days of the old empire before Chris Adams arrived with his new broom. “In the past we had a false understanding of ourselves,” Dernbach said. “We rested on past success and thought we were this great team. Then came a big reality check and a few people got moved on.”
Somerset won the toss but batted badly. “We didn’t adapt to the pitch,” said Trescothick, who recovered from an ankle injury to play in the final. He was stumped off Matt Spriegel, an off-spinner and a one-day specialist. For a man who has tamed some of the best spinners in the world, it was an unworthy dismissal and one that exposed Somerset’s frailty.
Their innings was rescued by Jos Buttler, who, like Dernbach had also been in Cardiff but was not in England’s XI so could enjoy a decent night’s sleep. He is a big hitter but at 79 for 5, it was construction rather than destruction that was called for.
He has only just turned 21 but there was a striking maturity about his innings. Well-paced and well thought through, he kept the fireworks in the box until the last knockings. He heaved the just-married Yasir Arafat over mid-wicket and flicked Dernbach over his shoulder. He scored 60 more runs than Somerset’s next top-scorer. Without him there would have been no contest.
Surrey’s chase was comfortable in the end but at 35 for 2 just as rain fell, Somerset were very much in with a chance.
Hamilton-Brown was dropped by Murali Kartik off the third ball of his side’s innings and caught by Nick Compton as he fell over the boundary but in every respect he played a captain’s innings. When he was run out for the third time in four CB40 innings there was still work to do. But despite the further loss of Chris Schofield, Surrey cruised home with 2.3 overs to spare.
The rain-break, and the revised target, might have hindered them but Hamilton-Brown explained – as if revealing a state secret – that the South African Zander de Bruyn, formerly of Somerset, had introduced a tactic called ‘rain focus’, a self-explanatory strategy to ensure that young players’ minds did not wander during weather interruptions.
‘New’ Surrey like to think they’ve got things licked. Manager Adams has made some colossal claims recently about how they are going to be one of the greatest sides in Surrey’s history and how Hamilton-Brown is a future England captain.
But at the end of a week in which they have returned to the first division of the Championship and won their first trophy for eight years in their first Lord’s final in a decade, it is difficult not to sit up and take notice.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John