Willey returns to form as Steelbacks slay Somerset

David Willey and Ben Duckett were key to the Steelbacks success (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
David Willey and Ben Duckett were key to the Steelbacks success (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

David Willey smashed a superb 91 as Northants Steelbacks beat Somerset by four wickets in the Royal London One-Day Cup at the County Ground.

It was the Steelbacks’ second win in as many days following Sunday’s dramatic 21-run success at Worcestershire, who were bowled out for just 105.

David Ripley’s men are now back in quarter-final contention, sitting fourth with six points to their name.

The top four teams in the two groups will make the last eight and Northants will now hope to successfully navigate their final two games, against Gloucestershire and Yorkshire.

Willey’s return to form was key as Somerset were slayed, with the England all-rounder going at an impressive run a ball before falling nine runs short of a century.

Willey opened the batting and he and Ben Duckett, who hit 61, ensured the Steelbacks reached their target of 248 with an over to spare.

Graeme White had early taken four for 37 as Somerset were limited to 247 for eight.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Adam Hose and Tom Abell added 24 for the opening Somerset wicket before the former edged Rory Kleinveldt behind to Duckett for 14.

Abell and Peter Trego were going along nicely at 61 for one until White was introduced in the 16th over.

The left-armer struck with his second ball, finding immediate turn to beat Trego’s defensive, before switching ends and producing a beauty which turned and clipped Abell’s off stump.

Bowling in tandem with Rob Keogh, White kept things tight in the middle period, with Tom Cooper and James Hildreth content to knock it around.

The pair were putting Somerset in a decent position with a stand of 64 in 13 overs before Cooper became Keogh’s first one-day victim as he was bowled for 48.

Hildreth continued to pass his half-century, and with 12 overs to go he looked set to launch a late assault with Jim Allenby for company.

But Northants crucially dismissed both within six balls to peg the visitors back.

Allenby slog swept White, but couldn’t quite clear Josh Cobb at deep square leg, before Cobb came on to bowl and removed Hildreth, who had made 55.

Craig Overton came and went, bowled from White’s final delivery, but Alex Barrow and Tim Groenewald combined to add 52 in the final seven overs, making 31 and 24 respectively.

Barrow was run out by Muhammad Azharullah in the final over.

After Northants’ recent top-order struggles, they spung a surprise as Willey replaced Richard Levi as Cobb’s opening partner.

And the new partnership proved successful as they added 44 to get the chase off to a solid start before Cobb fell for 15, miscuing a pull off Overton.

Having moved down to three, Levi looked comfortable against the spin as Somerset leaked boundaries.

Levi twice swept Max Waller for consecutive fours to bring up the fifty partnership but then hit the next ball straight to long-on to depart for 34.

Willey reached his third one-day half century from 54 balls in the following over after dispatching Waller for six.

Duckett initially played the supporting role, making 15 of the 50 stand, which came at better than a run a ball after Willey just cleared long-off for his fifth and final maximum.

Willey would fall short of three figures, denied by a fine return catch from Waller, but he departed with just 55 required from 90 balls.

Duckett reached a third half-century of the competition as he continued his fine recent form, but trying to finish the game in a hurry, he hit Trego straight in the air.

His departure caused a slight wobble as Keogh swept straight to midwicket for nine and Alex Wakely was bowled by Trego for 25, both falling with only seven runs required.

However, Kleinveldt and Steven Crook saw the Steelbacks home, Crook with the winning runs via an inside edge for four.

Northants Steelbacks: Levi, Cobb, Duckett (w), Wakely (c), Keogh, Willey, Crook, Kleinveldt, White, Stone, Azharullah.

Somerset: Hose, Abell, Trego, Cooper, Hildreth, Allenby (c), Barrow (w), C Overton, Groenewald, Waller, Leach.