Weakened by the return of Marcus Trescothick to England on Thursday, Somerset are now on the brink of elimination from the Champions League after they were easily beaten by the South African side Diamond Eagles here yesterday.
While Trescothick won praise from Michael Vaughan for his bravery in travelling to India, his team-mates were hastening their own return with a five-wicket defeat.
The seam bowler CJ de Villiers claimed four wickets for Eagles while opener Morne van Wyk shone with the bat. The Sabres are still hanging on in the competition – just – thanks to Trinidad & Tobago's remarkable victory over New South Wales, but they require an unlikely series of outcomes to progress.
Wes Durston's 57 and James Hildreth's 31 lower down the order had given their total of 132 for 8 some respectability but Van Wyk's 47 demonstrated just how far short of what was required they had fallen.
Trescothick, meanwhile, is back in England and is in good spirits, according to the Somerset chairman, Andy Nash. "He is fine. He sounds like normal Marcus, down to earth and grounded," Nash said. "Everyone connected with the club and cricket is aware how brave it was of him and [his wife] Hayley to even travel out there. It was a victory for him to get there."
His former England colleague Vaughan agrees that Trescothick deserves credit. "It was a courageous decision for him to try and go there to play," he said. "It's obviously not worked out but I spoke to him this morning and he's fine. I don't think people realise what an effort it took for him. But Tres loves his cricket and he'll be back next year, no doubt about it."
Justin Langer's decision to bat first immediately looked a mistake as De Villiers destroyed Somerset's top order by sending back opener Craig Kieswetter, Arul Suppiah and Zander de Bruyn in his first two overs.
It took Durston, in the team due to Trescothick's absence, to drag Somerset to respectability. The 29-year-old combined with Hildreth to put on 77 for the sixth wicket. De Villiers removed Durston, though, and Somerset unravelled.
Van Wyk proved too much for the Somerset bowlers as Eagles replied, falling only when the game was nearly won. Ryan Bailey (29), who also fell at the end, ensured there was no dramatic comeback for Somerset and they overhauled the target inside 19 overs.
Langer said the tournament had been a great experience but that Somerset had not done themselves justice. "The whole tournament has been an emotional roller coaster for us," he said. "When we beat the Chargers in the first game it was one of the most exciting games I've played in. The crowd was massive, and for our young guys it was huge. But today's defeat is really disappointing."Reuse content