Richard Levi, Max Waller and Albie Morkel were the stars for Somerset as they thrashed Warwickshire at Taunton. Levi thumped 69 from only 34 balls and scored predominantly on the leg-side as he shared a fourth-wicket stand of 67 from just 33 balls with Morkel, who made 38 from 30 balls. Chris Woakes had taken two early wickets for the Bears, but Levi, in particular, took a liking to Keith Barker and Steffan Piolet and the duo returned combined figures of one for 72 from six overs as Somerset closed on 191 for six.
The visitors got off to a good start in their reply, with Laurie Evans and captain Varun Chopra adding 40 inside the first six overs, before Alfonso Thomas had Evans bowled for 17 to spark a collapse. They lost William Porterfield and Darren Maddy from consecutive deliveries to Max Waller, who then dispatched Rikki Clarke and Chris Woakes soon afterwards, to end with figures of four for 16. Steffan Piolet entertained with an unbeaten 26 from 14 balls, but Warwickshire were all out for 128 in the penultimate over to lose by 63 runs.
Surrey could manage only 128 for eight after choosing to bat at The Oval, but it proved to be more than enough as Essex were restricted to 111 for nine by some tight bowling from the home side’s spinners. Gareth Batty led the way with figures of three for 20 – taking the wickets of the three key players, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and James Franklin – but Zafar Ansari (one for 15), Murali Kartik (none for 17 from four overs) and Matthew Spriegel (one for 15) all contributed.
Essex had begun brightly with an opening partnership of 44 between Mark Pettini (20 from 18 balls) and Bopara (28 from 29) in reply to Surrey’s mediocre first innings total. Gary Wilson had top-scored with a determined 33 to help the Lions past 100, while Graham Napier was the pick of the Eagles’ attack with three for 16 from his four overs.
Tomorrow’s Fixtures (start times in brackets, GMT):
North Group, Derbyshire v Lancashire at Derby (1800)
The home side will be hoping that they can transfer their excellent Championship form over into the shortest form of the game. The Falcons have not traditionally enjoyed a good run in the Twenty20 competition, but they recruited well over the winter and have found themselves two solid overseas professionals who should be available for the whole of the tournament.
Derbyshire squad: Chesney Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Wes Durston, Wayne Madsen (captain), Ross Whiteley, Dan Redfern, Jonathan Clare, David Wainwright, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Tom Poynton (wicket-keeper), Tim Groenewald, Tom Knight, Mark Turner, Garry Park.
Pakistan all-rounder Yasir Arafat is the Lightning’s sole overseas player in the competition, with Ashwell Prince not contracted to play. Tom Smith returns to the 13-man squad after recovering from a hamstring injury, but Ajmal Shahzad is sidelined with a mild stomach strain.
Lancashire squad: Stephen Moore, Tom Smith, Karl Brown, Steven Croft, Paul Horton, Luke Procter, Gareth Cross (wicket-keeper), Yasir Arafat, Glen Chapple (captain), Sajid Mahmood, Stephen Parry, Gary Keedy, Jordan Clark.
Midlands/West/Wales Group, Gloucestershire v Somerset at Bristol (1630)
Muttiah Muralitharan has set tongues wagging ahead of one of county cricket’s biggest Derby dates by suggesting that Gloucestershire and Somerset should merge and form a franchise club in a new ECB Twenty competition. This will not go down well in the shires and it would be advisable for the former Sri Lankan spinner to let his bowling do the taking tomorrow. He will lead a spin attack that could include as many as four twirlers – the others are Ed Young, Jack Taylor and Kane Williamson. Dan Housego and James Fuller have been included in the 13-man squad, but there is no place for Will Gidman.
Gloucestershire squad: Hamish Marshall (captain), Benny Howell, Kane Williamson, Alex Gidman, Ian Cockbain, Dan Housego, Jack Taylor, Ed Young, Jonathan Batty (wicket-keeper), Muttiah Muralitharan, David Payne, Ian Saxelby, James Fuller.
Somerset are likely to field an unchanged side after their thumping win over Warwickshire, although they may opt to replace Nick Compton or move Kevin O’Brien up the order.
Possible Somerset XI: Richard Levi, Craig Kieswetter (wicket-keeper), Peter Trego, Jos Buttler, Albie Morkel, Kevin O’Brien, Nick Compton, Alfonso Thomas (captain), Max Waller, George Dockrell, Steve Kirby.
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