Same old story for Somerset. But, after a decade in the doldrums, Surrey were last night celebrating a Lord's final success and starting to believe that the good times are about to roll again.
Four days ago, Surrey made it back to the top table of County Championship cricket. Now they have a CB40 trophy to cuddle following a rain influenced but ultimately convincing five-wicket victory, achieved with 15 balls to spare.
This late-season domestic final may have lost a fair bit of its lustre with the public – the home of cricket was not much more than half full for a second year running. But the look of joy on the face of the victors as their young captain, Rory Hamilton-Brown, stepped forward to receive the prize suggested that coming out on top means as much as ever to the players.
As for the vanquished, no words can console. Somerset have lost five consecutive domestic finals (three Twenty20 and two CB40). Oh, and they were runners-up in last year's Championship as well.
Yesterday, they needed a wonderful innings of 86, off 73 balls, from the new England recruit Jos Buttler to give them even a sniff. But neither that display, nor Buttler's late direct-hit run-out of Hamilton-Brown (who masterminded the reply with 78 from 62 deliveries) could deprive Surrey of their deserved reward.
The Lions were inspired in the field by another England newcomer, Jade Dernbach, who struck four times to finish the competition with 23 wickets. And then, when two heavy showers changed Surrey's pursuit of 214 all out into a target of 186 off 30 overs, Hamilton-Brown was coolness personified.
Until Buttler walked to the middle, at 79 for five, just about the only positive thing Somerset had done was to choose to bat after winning the toss.
"Tentative" does not begin to describe the start to their innings – and while a used pitch was just what Surrey wanted, in order to encourage an attack featuring four spinners, no attempt was made to knock any bowler off course during the first 20 overs.
Marcus Trescothick, having declared himself fit enough to play despite a sore ankle, straight-drove one boundary against Matthew Spriegel but then got himself into a real tangle against the off-spinner and was stumped by a distance.
Exit one big gun – and then it was goodbye to another. Craig Kieswetter's unconvincing attempt to pull Yasir Arafat into the crowd resulted in nothing more spectacular than a top edge. The final was in danger of falling flat as Peter Trego, James Hildreth and Arul Suppiah departed.
Where Somerset were uncertain, the Lions roared with self-belief. Even Zafar Ansari, not yet 20 and Surrey's fourth spinner in this format, looked like an old hand, winning a mind game against Nick Compton to bowl the former Middlesex batsman when he tried a reverse sweep. That success ended a promising stand of 42.
England supporters had drooled over the batting of Jonny Bairstow the night before. Now they could purr with delight as another 21-year-old showed terrific maturity on top of remarkable skill. Knowing he had to stick around, Buttler was risk-free up to 50, at a run a ball.
But as well as Buttler batted, he was by no means the only star on show towards the end of the Somerset innings. Dernbach has won admirers at international level and here he went through his full repertoire of deliveries – ranging from decidedly slippery to deceptively slow – to perplex all but his new England colleague. Buttler carved Dernbach over third man for six and having pulled Arafat for another maximum, he looked set to do even more damage. He was last out, falling to a full and straight one.
That gave Dernbach his fourth wicket and there was equal applause for bowler and the beaten batsman as they left the field together.
Somerset won toss
Runs Balls 4s 6s
*M E Trescothick st Davies b Spriegel 15 17 2 0
†C Kieswetter c Davies b Yasir Arafat 16 23 1 0
P D Trego c Ansari b Dernbach 16 14 3 0
N R D Compton b Ansari 26 41 1 0
J C Hildreth b Schofield 3 9 0 0
A V Suppiah lbw b Batty 11 16 0 0
J C Buttler b Dernbach 86 72 7 2
C A J Meschede c and b Batty 10 16 0 0
A C Thomas c Davies b Dernbach 8 20 0 0
M Kartik b Dernbach 5 3 1 0
S P Kirby not out 0 5 0 0
Extras (lb5 w13) 18
Total (39.2 overs) 214
Fall: 1-24, 2-36, 3-56, 4-66, 5-79, 6-124, 7-146, 8-178, 9-200.
Bowling: M N W Spriegel 6-0-34-1, Yasir Arafat 8-0-50-1, J W Dernbach 7.2-0-30-4, C P Schofield 5-1-32-1, G J Batty 8-0-35-2, Z S Ansari 5-0-28-1.
Surrey (D/L target 186 off 30 overs)
Runs Balls 4s 6s
*R J Hamilton-Brown run out 78 62 7 1
†S M Davies c Kartik b Kirby 8 11 1 0
J J Roy c Kieswetter b Kirby 11 9 2 0
T L Maynard c Kieswetter b Suppiah 17 16 2 0
C P Schofield c Trescothick b Thomas 26 31 3 0
Z de Bruyn not out 17 20 1 0
M N W Spriegel not out 24 16 4 0
Extras (lb4 w4) 8
Total (5 wkts, 27.3 overs) 189
Fall: 1-19, 2-35, 3-77, 4-135, 5-147.
Bowling: A C Thomas 5-0-25-1, S P Kirby 5.3-0-39-2, P D Trego 3-0-21-0, C A J Meschede 3-0-24-0, M Kartik 6-0-49-0, A V Suppiah 5-0-27-1.
Umpires: T E Jesty and R T Robinson.
Surrey win by five wickets (D/L method).
Man of the Match: J W Dernbach (Surrey).