London: Somerset's Australian captain Jamie Cox admitted he thought his team's defence of the One-day Trophy tournament was about to end on Thursday during the course of a thrilling semi-final against Kent at Taunton
Kent somehow failed to score the nine runs it needed for victory from 15 balls despite also having four wickets in hand. And its finish was all the more disappointing as for so much of its innings Kent looked on course to reach what would have been a domestic record score of 345 for victory. Instead its challenge ended when former England all-rounder Mark Ealham was caught off the first ball of the final over, Somerset winning by five runs. "The game was lost there for a while - I still can't believe that we won," said Cox. "But some magnificent bowling and fielding meant we managed to get it back," the 32-year-old Tasmanian added. "We believe we can win from any situation and that was shown today when we came through in that fashion. We have a very proud history in my time at the club in this competition and it will be special going back to Lord's." Earlier 24-year-old Ian Blackwell's quick fire 86 off 53 balls took Somerset to its huge total. And he followed that up by dismissing Kent's hard-hitting Australia batsman Andrew Symonds for 55 and taking a fine mid-wicket catch to get rid of Matthew Walker. "He was awesome and I think it's another special chapter in his career," said Cox, of Blackwell, one of 20 players to be provisionally named in England's Adelaide- based Academy for this coming winter. But it was substitute fielder Simon Francis who swung the game Somerset's way. In the penultimate over Francis produced a magnificent piece of fielding to stop James Golding's off-drive and then threw down the stumps to run him out at the bowler's end while lying prone on the outfield. "That was the turning point of the game," said Blackwell. "A bit of luck went our way. We were confident of our score being enough but there were lots of runs in the pitch and it was hard to bowl on." Kent captain Matthew Fleming, who retires at the end of the season, praised his side's batting effort in which he top scored with 63. "I am certainly proud of the way we chased that score," said the 37-year-old ex-England One-day specialist. "I was not very proud of how we bowled or fielded but we got in a position where we should have won the game," the former Army officer added. But anyone who says that it's not the winning or losing it's the taking part that counts has never lost a semi-final like that," Fleming insisted. The Trophy final takes place at Lord's on Saturday, August 31. But Somerset's opponent is still unknown after the semi-final between Surrey and Yorkshire at Headingley was completely washed out for a second successive day. If no play is possible Friday a bowl-out will decide who the other finalists are in England's senior One-day competition.