Russell hits cameo in Worcestershire win
Taunton, England - A return to form by Marcus Trescothick and some six-hitting by Jos Buttler entirely in keeping with his reputation should have resulted in a reasonably straightforward victory by Somerset.
That Worcestershire won by eight runs emphasised how lesser talents, through the eternal values of line and length and competent catching, can still prevail.
Needing 169 to win, Somerset needed 70 off 43 balls - virtually ten an over - when Trescothick was dismissed. His 49 from 38 balls had satisfied requirements, but throughout the innings only Buttler managed to pose the same threat.
Trescothick was on the back of four ducks, a fact that led him to respond to mild Taunton barracking in the Championship defeat against Sussex by raising his bat in acknowledgment, encouraging fanciful theories that he might be about to enter retirement.
He played more confidently here, not least against Gareth Andrew, his former team-mate. One six over long on smacked of timing of old and a chipped four over the head of extra cover off Moeen Ali was calculated through precise knowledge of the field placings.
The Somerset captain had been stoutly defended on Twitter in the morning by Andy Nash, the Somerset chairman who, unusually for a cricket administrator, is prepared to vent his feelings on social media. "Don't you dare write off Tres," he threatened any critics. "The man is a legend and has my unconditional 100 per cent support. Period."
The danger with such comments is that they raise more questions than answers, particularly when he says he would rather Somerset were relegated from the first division of the Championship with him than stay up without him.
But it was a pointless debate. Nobody could seriously have doubted that Trescothick's form would pick up. He had made struck six fours and that six when he was caught at deep cover off Jack Shantry.
Craig Kieswetter had gone in the first over, caught at short third man, and Nick Compton, whose technique, as we know, is not suited to this form of the game, was held at deep mid wicket. The catching and athleticism of Andre Russell, who caught both Trego and Compoton, was inspirational throughout the innings.
Two sixes off Andrew by Buttler, one whistling past a balcony window in the Ondaatje Pavilion, brought the asking rate down to 34 off three overs, which was feasible if Buttler stayed in. For once, though, one of his scoops did not come off and James Hildreth went in the same over, to Joe Leach's medium pace.
The centrepiece of Worcestershire's innings was 53 off 42 balls by Alexei Kervezee, who struck Steve Kirby for six over long on. Wickets fell about him, but Moeen Ali always appeared elegant, even when having to beetle on. Max Waller - surely his leg spin should be utilised more often, especially now the pitches are dry - bowled Daryl Mitchell with what appeared to be a top spinner, and had Russell caught at deep square leg.
Somerset, at any rate on paper, have a considerably more powerful batting line-up than Worcestershire, and it did not seem to make sense to have Compton coming in at a stage of the innings when the scoring rate had to be improved. In other words, have him opening or held back to stave off a collapse. Somerset of yesteryear - and there have been many good ones - surely would have won this match.