Somerset survived the loss of Marcus Trescothick to the second ball he faced to make it seven wins out of seven in the Clydesdale Bank 40 with a three-wicket victory over the Unicorns at Exmouth yesterday.
The domestic season may be a mystery to most, with its constant and bemusing switching between competitions, but Somerset's approach is simple: whatever the game, win it. Trescothick's first season as captain is proving a notable one, barring the odd personal hiccup. They are in contention to win their first-ever Championship, in the Friends Provident T20 finals and going great guns in the 40-over competition.
Yesterday at The Maer Ground, the home of Devon, Somerset restricted the Unicorns, a side of players from outside the first-class game, to 166 for 9 and although their chase was punctuated with a regular loss of wickets the Group A pacesetters got home with nearly four overs to spare. Nick Compton top scored with 64 before becoming one of four wickets for Glen Querl, a 22-year-old seamer from Harare. Querl also dismissed Craig Kieswetter for 30 as the England one-day wicketkeeper continued his stuttering form.
The top team in each of the three groups qualifies for the semi-finals along with the best runner-up. Sussex overtook Surrey to move into second place in Group A with a six-wicket victory at Guildford. Michael Yardy's unbeaten 46-ball 66 proved decisive as the visitors chased a target of 253 with 10 balls to spare.
Gloucestershire's penultimate-ball victory over Middlesex in a high-scoring contest at Cheltenham kept them in pursuit of Group B leaders Yorkshire. Owais Shah scored 111 from 92 balls as Middlesex reached 299 for 8, with John Simpson, another of their bright young prospects, making 82 at a run a ball. In reply, Steve Snell hurried to 95 off 62 balls. When he fell the hosts's hopes looked gone, but in came the evergreen Jon Lewis at nine to wallop 20 off the final over and snatch a thrilling win.
Essex remain in contention in Group B after overcoming a dire start to beat Northamptonshire at Southend. They lost their first two wickets without scoring a run, but Ravi Bopara (42) steadied the innings before unbeaten half-centuries by two 20-year-olds, Adam Wheater and Michael Comber, saw Essex home by five wickets. The pair, who had previously played a single senior one-day game between them, put on 116 for the sixth wicket after Essex stumbled 100 for 5.