Royal London One-Day Cup South Group

Somerset 283 beat Middlesex 230 by 53 runs

SOMERSET returned to winning ways in the Royal London One-Day Cup with a 53-run victory over Middlesex in Taunton.

Three batsmen made starts but none progressed further than Peter Trego (65) as Somerset were bowled out for 283, which looked like more than enough when the hosts reduced Middlesex to 84-6 in reply.

Somerset took their foot off the gas, however, and some wayward bowling allowed John Simpson (77) to put together various stands with the lower-order which made the winning margin a lot tighter than it could, and perhaps should, have been.

The Somerset side showed two changes from that which lost at Essex, with Lewis Gregory replacing Tim Groenewald and Paul van Meekeren in for Max Waller.

Gregory took the captaincy, replacing Peter Trego in the role in the continued absence of Tom Abell with a finger injury, but lost the toss and, having been put in to bat, Somerset lost both openers inside five overs for the second match in succession.

Steve Davies was first to go, edging Steve Finn behind without scoring, and Johann Myburgh was then caught behind off the same bowler having made 24 of Somerset's first 25 runs.

As they had done in Chelmsford on Friday, Peter Trego and James Hildreth stemmed the flow of early wickets before the latter fell to a needless run out when well set on 30.

Trego sprinted back for a second run which Hildreth, having jogged the first, was not ready for; Nathan Sowter's accurate throw from extra allowed James Franklin to take the bails off with the batsman short of his ground.

Matt Renshaw was promoted above Tom Banton to number five but, having struck a four and a lovely slog-swept six on his way to 24, he and Banton (2) were both stumped off the bowling of Ravi Patel.

Trego brought up his half-century before becoming Patel's third victim, chipping back to the spinner with 65 to his name from 85 balls to leave Somerset 159-6.

Gregory and Roelof van der Merwe led a revival, each scoring at better than a run-a-ball and striking the ball cleanly.

The skipper for the day hit some particularly lusty blows, nailing four sixes in a 42-ball half-century, but was caught at cover for 56 after skying Tom Helm to Paul Stirling at cover.

The same fielder ended van der Merwe's innings on 52, holding on to a firmly struck shot off Steve Finn, and Jamie Overton (0) was clean bowled by a Helm slower ball.

Craig Overton was the final wicket to fall, caught by Eskinazi off Finn (4-65) for seven as Somerset were bowled out for 283 with nine balls going unused.

Somerset needed early wickets in reply and got them. Gregory struck first as Gubbins (14) edged to James Hildreth at first slip, and Craig Overton followed suit as Eskinazi nicked behind and Steve Davies took a fine low catch diving to his right in front of Hildreth.

Eoin Morgan, back at the County Ground for the first time since England’s IT20 against South Africa last June, played some nice drives mixed in with some loose shots as he made his way to 11.

One of those rash shots provided Gregory with his second wicket, Hildreth again doing the honours at first slip with a fine catch high above his head to send the England ODI skipper on his way with Middlesex 39-3.

If Hildreth’s was good, what came next was even better as Somerset kept up their intensity in the field.

This time Tom Banton received the plaudits as he flew to his right at short cover to cling on one-handed to an uppish drive from Hilton Cartwright, who fell for four to provide Peter Trego with a wicket in his first over.

Paul Stirling became the key man, as he sent anything loose to the boundary while John Simpson looked to play himself in at the other end.

It took the extra pace of Paul van Meekeren to end Stirling’s innings on 39, as a short ball tempted the opener into an attempted upper cut to third man which caught an edge and flew through to Davies.

At 80-5 Middlesex had it all to do, and the introduction of Jamie Overton had an immediate effect as he struck with his first delivery.

A superb yorker was too good for James Franklin, who saw his stumps re-arranged as he departed for a single.

Somerset were frustrated by John Simpson and the tail for long periods thereafter and had to wait 10 overs for their next breakthrough, which came when Paul van Meekeren removed Sowter (16) caught behind from an inside edge on to his pad.

Roelof van der Merwe ensured spin was not overlooked on a day where a quick wicket saw pace dominate, uprooting Tom Helm's off stump to leave Middlesex 145-8.

Steve Finn took the attack to Jamie Overton in a second spell which lacked the potency of his first, making 17 before being run out by a James Hildreth direct hit from square leg.

Middlesex still had time to set some nerves twitching as Ravi Patel feasted on some poor bowling to move quickly to a List A career-best 24, but he was left stranded when Simpson - who played very well for his 77 - edged van Meekeren behind.

The Dutchman was perhaps the pick of the attack, building up good pace and largely maintaining a good line and length as he finished with 3-32 from seven overs.

Peter Trego (1-31 from seven) also kept it tight, while Gregory ended with 2-41 from eight, Craig Overton with 1-52 off nine and Jamie Overton on 1-42 from six.

Afterwards, Gregory said: "I was always backing us to finish it off. While Simpson was there they always had a chance - he's a class player and always seems to do well against us - and, while there were a few nerves, I was confident we would come through.

"It's been a theme so far that just as we've started to get momentum we've lost wickets and that happened again today. If we want to go far in this competition it's something we'll have to rectify.

"I thought we were brilliant in the field today. We weren't at our best at Essex in that department so we spoke beforehand about improving and we did - Bants took a brilliant catch."

Gregory had missed the three matches prior to this as part of his managed recovery from the back injury which ruled him out of the latter half of last season.

His absence fuelled further speculation about his future - the all-rounder's contract is up at the end of the season and he's yet to sign a new one, though negotiations "remain ongoing" - but he insisted his absence was purely for a much-needed rest.

"I'm coming off the back of some pretty intensive surgery," he said.

"We knew we'd have to work in a break and at the end of the four Championship games I needed that break, but I felt good today.

"Personally, it was nice to get back on the pitch, get some runs and to finish on the winning side."