Rilee Rossouw gives Derbyshire a rocket in record Somerset win

Rilee Rossouw gives Derbyshire a rocket in record Somerset win

Somerset 265 for 5 (Rossouw 93, Banton 73) defeated derbyshire 74 (Siddle 3-10, Green 3-17) by 191 points

“Carnage” was how Rilee Rossouw described it and he wasn’t exaggerating. It was a perfect night to hit in Taunton – a sparkling summer evening, an inviting batting pitch and a Derbyshire bowling attack that ultimately found this quarter-final too much. Somerset imposed the highest score in T20 Blast history a night that will warm the hearts of the West Country for many years to come. They’re back in Finals Day, and just to rub it in their 191 run was the bigger margin of victory too.

Somerset hit 265 for 5, overtaking Birmingham’s 261 for 2, achieved against Nottinghamshire just three weeks ago. Eighteen sixes rained down on a jubilant crowd. A hot air balloon sailing close to the ground would have been better advised not to lose altitude for a closer look.

Derbyshire never managed to chase 200, so 266 was a bit of a ask. They capsized for 74, not a single six in response, though many failed, their thoughts turning to themselves long before they started the return trip. Their northern group campaign was worthy of respect as they drew all their ability from themselves, but it could hardly have been a more gruesome night.

Derbyshire head coach Mickey Arthur didn’t mince words. “It was embarrassing,” he said. “We’re not happy that we just reached the quarter-finals and tonight we didn’t execute our skills. We were hesitant, we didn’t play well and we didn’t nail our skills with the balloon, with the exception of George Scrimshaw, who was outstanding. It was very disappointing because I felt we bottled him up.

Rossouw’s 93 out of 36 balls were also on course to become one of the hundreds of fastest T20s in Blast history until Scrimshaw had caught him, pulling, at deep midwicket. A damning statistic as Derbyshire managed to avoid. Scrimshaw has been impressive enough this season to earn an England Lions call-up and his reputation will be boosted by his 2-for-16 comeback when everything around him was chaotic. Mattie McKiernanLeg-spin from had a less rewarding night: his numbers of 4-0-82-0 were the Very expensive in the history of T20 cricket.

McKiernan’s fate was sealed in a soul-destroying 15th of innings in which he conceded 36, including five sixes, a four and two without balls thanks to a googly that landed on the cut boards. At least it was only classified as third in the darkest of darknessJames Fuller once went for 38 for Gloucestershire and conceded 12 before making a legal delivery. If it’s any consolation for McKiernan, Fuller, now in Hampshire, has been one of the standout performers this season. It is possible to come back from this.

All off-bat runs in this game fell on Rossouw, who repeatedly found the ball in his arc and dealt with it forcefully – as he has done all season. He now has 600 carries, the best return in Somerset history, and this season second only to Hampshire’s James Vince, with an extravagant strike rate of 197.36.

Every Derbyshire bowler except Scrimshaw misfired when they found Taunton, a land that breeds young, authoritative batters beyond comprehension. It was also a night when Tom Banton, which was considered one of the hottest properties in T0 on the other side of Covid-19, reminded everyone what it was all about. He struck out 19 from the first over McKiernan and, later in his innings, a straight six against Alex Hughes even left umpire Neil Mallender mopping his brow. Hughes cheated him with a slower ball as he went for 73 from 41. But he should have run into Mark Watt at fullback on 29, Ben Aitchison the culprit.

Somerset’s power play had been locked down for most of the night, but when Tom Lammonby took 24 of his first five balls, Aitchison the bowler to suffer, the team’s highest score hovered in sight. Hughes’ wide half-volley, slapped straight for six in the final, duly reached her.

All that said, how did Somerset get to 49 from five overs without dropping a wicket? That they did and settled the game. For Will Smeed, it was an evening of learning. Possibly the most painful learning night of his career. He’s one of the most exciting young power hitters in the game. But if he needed to be reminded that his prowess is limited – he’s yet to make his debut in four days – Scrimshaw provided it by knocking down opening for the first time in his career and revealing the limits of Smeed.

Scrimshaw is tall and lanky, and styles a slightly wicked mustache to develop an air of menace. He played fast and short on a pitch with plenty of rebound for the new ball, his line crooked at times but his potential clear to see. Smeed dressed his fourth ball so badly that he didn’t reach the middle and swooped short balls without making contact. He was bruised, physically and mentally. He’s often Taunton’s darling at T20 nights like this, but it spoke to him about the challenges of reaching the top level.

Surprisingly, Scrimshaw didn’t have a second longer. It felt like Derbyshire was sticking to pre-match plans for how they would negotiate the power play. It would have taken a captain sure of his instincts to change tack and the captain so far, Shan Masood, had been called up by Pakistan.

Derbyshire’s response did poorly from the start, with Somerset having nothing out of the ordinary to do. They were 42 for 4 after the power play, three of them to Pierre Siddle. Luis Reece had the misfortune to pick the outfielder at 45; du Plooy, struck in the funny bone, first bullet, was dismissed as he charged at the second; and Hilton Cartwright missed a deep midwicket. As the collapse gathered pace, the best hold went to wicketkeeper Banton as he raced to catch Mark Watt’s first ball.

All that was missing from the Derbyshire night was an exhausted comedy. “No, big ‘un,” McKiernan shouted at Aitchison as he attempted a second run to deep midwicket. The cry was not heard. Maybe he thought Scrimshaw was the big ‘one these days. Disheartened looks were briefly exchanged. Derbyshire had endured a disastrous night.

David Hopps writes about county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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