Somerset cup hopes put to flight by Wren

CricketDAVID LLEWELLYNreports from CanterburyKent 250-9; Somerset 219-8Kent won by 31 runs
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The Independent Online
Somerset have made something of a profession of reaching knock-out semi- finals and getting no further. Yesterday was no exception.

Rain had caused their Benson and Hedges semi-final to spill over into an unwelcome second day, resulting in a reduction all round; smaller crowd, less noise, virtually no atmosphere and ultimately no joy as they lost their fifth semi-final in seven years.

Their chase for the necessary runs sprang an early leak when left-arm seamer Tim Wren, who had pulled the plug with six Somerset wickets in the zonal match, bowled Marcus Trescothick in his first over. The Folkestone plumber proved awkward to get away throughout and in his second spell he had Mark Lathwell and Richard Harden in successive balls. Lathwell's was a spectacular dismissal by Martin McCague, who took a catch one-handed in the deep as he was toppling over backwards on the slippery long-on boundary.

Wren had given the Somerset innings a blow from which it never recovered. The Somerset batsmen all seemed to get going a little too late. Peter Bowler's third half-century in the cup this summer kept one end going but what was needed was some fire at the other. When it came it was far too late, captain Andy Hayhurst's unbeaten 69 being poor compensation in defeat. His brief flurry of big hits was 10 overs too late.

Kent's fielding was electric. Apart from McCague's magnificent effort the captain, Mark Benson, took a superb one over his shoulder at deep extra cover and general athleticism ensured runs were saved. Tight bowling also helped and, with the exception of McCague, everyone got among the wickets.

Matthew Fleming picked up some crucial ones, notably Bowler, after a 118-ball innings which contained three boundaries, shortly after lunch and the last of the Somerset hopes, Graham Rose and Simon Ecclestone, followed.

Mark Ealham, who had done so much to revive the Kent innings with a half- century, picked up a wicket and the gold award. The reward for his county is a date at Lord's with Lancashire, a side they have met twice (won one, lost one) in the 60-over final, but have not encountered to date in six previous Benson and Hedges final appearances.

n Worcestershire have called up the young pace pair, Alex Wylie and Paul Thomas, for the County Championship match against Lancashire at New Road today.