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Twenty20 Finals Betting: Can Somerset bury ghost of near misses?

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The men from the west country are certainly up for this Saturday's Twenty20 finals day and bettors reckon they're the team to beat too. Ralph Ellis explains why he isn't convinced...

Somerset are heavy odds on at [1.65] to win their semi-final over Hampshire and then [3.3] favourites to lift the Twenty20 trophy. But it might not be so simple.

They are the hottest tickets in town. They sold out in a day. Hundreds have queued to go on a waiting list in case some more were made available. The website has crashed several times under the weight of demand.

No, we're not talking the Olympics here, or even the Paralympics. This is Somerset's share of the 16,000 places at Saturday's Twenty20 finals day in Cardiff. "We thought selling two per member was reasonable - but we were wrong," admitted chief executive Guy Lavender. "We're very disappointed we can't meet the demand."

Clearly down in Cider country they think this could be the year that all the disappointments come to an end. Every year since 2009 they have set off to finals day full of optimism, watched their side reach the last two, and then suffered defeat. Last year was the worst when they looked like winners against Leicestershire but then the middle order collapsed.

This time, however, it seems the older members who recall the great days of Botham, Richards and Garner think they are in for a winning day out. And Betfair's market seems to support them - Somerset are heavy odds on at [1.65] to win their semi-final over Hampshire and then [3.3] favourites to lift the Twenty20 trophy. But it might not be so simple.

True, canny director of cricket Brian Rose (he was captain back in those Botham and Richards glory days), has made sure he will have their South African stars Richard Levi and Albie Morkel available. The touring team's management were impressed with how professionally Somerset handled things when Mark Boucher injured his eye so severely at Taunton, and have bent over backwards to help out the county in return. The presence of Levi, who holds the world record top score for T20 after making 117 not out against New Zealand in February, will be a big plus.

But the rest of Somerset's squad is currently ravaged by such a horrific injury crisis that Rose will be, in the sort of terms beloved by some football managers, "down to the bare bones". The current list under treatment includes skipper Marcus Trescothick, plus Alfonso Thomas, Nick Compton, Gemaal Hussain, Adam Dibble, Craig Meschede and Alex Gregory.

Then there's the psychological effect of all those near misses in the last few seasons. Somehow they seem to have found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a succession of finals, and not just in T20. They have lost the last two CB40 finals as well. To get over the line and win one will take a massive collective will, and with so many players missing it won't be easy.

Finally, there's the very nature of the game. The shortest format of cricket is literally hit or miss, which means when you put four county teams together on one day you can't consider any one of them to be the favourite. It's too much of a lottery, decided by one brilliant catch or daft run-out.

All those people queuing for tickets in Taunton might not like it, but even the ones who got lucky and are on their way to Cardiff might be in for as much disappointment as those who missed out.

Recommended Bet:
Lay Somerset to win @ [3.4]

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