Tom Banton’s imperious 69 marched Somerset towards Royal London One Day Cup final glory as they beat Hampshire by six wickets.
James Hildreth then posted an unbeaten 69 and scored the winning runs to seal Somerset’s victory over the defending champions with 39 balls to spare in a comprehensive and stylish triumph.
Banton is barely out of his teens and already compared to Kevin Pietersen by Michael Vaughan; this ice cool and impudent half-century will only increase such testimonials.
Batting coach Marcus Trescothick said Banton was “made for the big occasion” ahead of the last One Day Cup final at Lord’s, and so it proved as the 20-year-old eased Somerset towards victory.
Somerset had endured runners-up status in a remarkable 10 competitions in as many years heading into this Lord’s showdown.
Banton’s unruffled innings set the tone for a near stress-free run chase though, to mock the many recent times Somerset had fallen at the last.
Four County Championship second-place finishes, three Twenty20 Cup and three 40-over Cup final defeats – and no extra pressure for the nerveless Banton.
This new-breed batsman had hardly started school when Somerset last claimed a major title, the 2005 Twenty20 crown. Now the punchy shot-maker heads the vanguard of Somerset’s unfazed young talent ready for a transformative summer.
This was his second 50 to add to two centuries in this year’s One Day Cup.
Somerset’s blend of experience and youth has them top of the embryonic County Championship pile, and this silverware breakthrough will surely only bolster that momentum.
Once Banton departed, up popped one of the old stagers in Hildreth, a man who had been on hand for so many of those near-misses.
Here though the 34-year-old was poise personified, betraying any nerves to steer Somerset home with plenty to spare.
Fidel Edwards’ three-wicket second spell had Somerset wobbling ever so slightly, but the Hampshire paceman paid the price for a fruitless first three overs that went for 31 runs.
Somerset had precious few problems reaching their modest 245 victory target, and had their bowlers to thank for a frugal and effective spell in the field.
Jamie Overton’s three for 48 helped peg Hampshire back to 244 for eight, in figures that comprised the dismissal of danger man Rilee Rossouw.
Last year Rossouw blasted 125 to fire Hampshire to the title, but this time out he could only muster 28.
Captain Tom Abell chipped in with two key wickets of his own to boot, the 25-year-old in dreamland to lift the trophy.
Abell was just seven years old watching from the Lord’s stands when Somerset last lifted the One Day Cup in 2001.
Now the 25-year-old enters the record books as the last man to loft the silverware at Lord’s before next year’s showpiece moves to Trent Bridge.
Abell removing counterpart Sam Northeast for 56 proved vitally important, while James Fuller’s unbeaten 55 ended up in vain as Hampshire came up short.