We don't fear anything, says Somerset skipper Alfonso Thomas
ALFONSO Thomas believes Somerset have grown up as a Twenty20 team since losing in last season's final – and said his in-form side fear no one in the shortest form of the game.
Somerset enjoyed another emphatic Midlands/Wales/West Group victory on Tuesday evening, thrashing Northamptonshire by seven wickets at Wantage Road.
They host Gloucestershire in a derby at Taunton tomorrow (5.30pm), where victory would all but guarantee Somerset's passage to the quarter-finals.
And stand-in skipper Thomas, whose side bounced back from defeat to Leicestershire in last season's domestic Twenty20 final by reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League t20 in India, said: "I think we've definitely grown as a team since last year.
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"We're a bit more mature and I think there's a quiet confidence about us where we just don't fear anything.
"With what this team has been through in the last 12 months in Twenty20 cricket, I've always believed it would stand us in good stead."
In only four completed games this season – all of which Somerset have won – three different players have scored fifties, in addition to James Hildreth's sublime 107 not out against Welsh Dragons.
Bowling-wise, five different players have taken at least four wickets, while six have economy rates at seven runs or fewer per over.
And Thomas has drawn a comparison between his team and two-times IPL champions Chennai Super Kings.
"I always refer to Chennai Super Kings, who are a fantastic IPL side," said Thomas.
"The reason they are such a fantastic side is because they have a lot of all-rounders – and match-winners all the way down to nine or ten.
"I think that's exactly what this team has – we have match-winners who can come in at seven, eight or nine, and guys who could bowl first change for any other team, but who aren't getting a bowl every game here.
"I want everybody to contribute and everybody to feel part of the team – and I believe that will stand us in good stead coming to the business end of the competition."
Match-winning duties were shared around at Northants on Tuesday, with Arul Suppiah (2-10), Steve Kirby (2-14) and George Dockrell (2-24) helping limit the hosts to 115-6, before Craig Kieswetter (51) and Richard Levi (35) ensured Somerset eased to victory with 38 balls to spare.
Kieswetter and Levi had only rejoined the Somerset squad that day after playing for England and South Africa, respectively, over the weekend.
"That's exactly what you want from your senior pros," said Thomas. "On Tuesday, Craig was very, very professional, and I said to him that's what makes him such a world-class player.
"He came in and made a difference; Richard Levi was travelling all day and still came in and made a difference. Hopefully things like that can rub off on the whole team."
The margin of victory, however, allowed Thomas to gently mock some of the less than sharp fielding from opener Levi, who looked jetlagged in the field, if not with the bat.
"As captain, I could have done with a team performance like that against Gloucestershire on Friday – I've just been told there's 9,000 people coming!" said Thomas.
"But I have said to Richard Levi, 'you'd better not field like that on Friday night or the cidermen might just turn on you!' Hopefully the weather plays its part, because the derby against Gloucestershire is always an exciting day."
Pakistan left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman has emerged as the new favourite to join Somerset for the second half of the LV= County Championship campaign.
The 32-year-old has 76 wickets in 16 Tests, including a career-best 6-25 against England in January.