Local derby matches between Somerset and Gloucestershire in one-day cricket tend to bring out the best in both sides, whatever their league position, so the fact the Cidermen top the Friends Life Twenty20 Midlands, Wales and West Division, while their old foes are in the lower reaches, will count for nothing.
When the two sides meet this evening in front of a sell-out County Ground crowd at Taunton, there will be no holds barred as both teams pursue local bragging rights.
Somerset are unbeaten in the Twenty20 tournament and another victory would edge them closer to not only a place in the quarter-finals but a money-spinning home tie.
Tonight’s derby will have a special significance for several of the Somerset players.
Jos Buttler, who is locally born and bred, said: “This is a huge match for us. There will be a lot of local rivalry, especially after we were washed out in Bristol, so it will be good to play the old enemy again.
“I have grown up coming down to the County Ground to watch these games, and there has always been an edge against Gloucester.
“However at the end of the day it’s another game of cricket and we need to win to get two more points and keep our momentum going in Twenty20.
“We are doing really well in the competition this year, but we’re taking every game as it comes at the minute. We mustn’t get ahead of ourselves and I think we have done that really well.”
Pete Trego, another Somerset thoroughbred who hails from Weston-super-Mare, said: “This is a huge game and it’s always a great game playing against Gloucestershire. We are all pretty excited, and if we get the result we want then we will pretty much have one foot into the quarter finals.
“The next four games for us is preparation for us for what lies ahead of us, and every one is really important, so we’ve got to keep the quality of the cricket improving.
“To have reached the last three finals days is a huge achievement in itself, but nobody is going to be satisfied playing with this group of players without a trophy to lift at the end of the season.”
Pace bowler Steve Kirby spent six seasons playing for Gloucestershire, so he knows only too well about the tensions of local derby games.
“It’s going to be a massive game, with an amazing atmosphere,” he said. “I just hope the Gloucestershire fans go steady on me. The ball is now very much in our court, because we now need to win the games to qualify and get a home quarter-final tie. That’s our main objective, and we don’t want to leave anything to the weather.”
Somerset (from): Levi, Compton, O’Brien, Buttler, Morkel, Hildreth, Suppiah, Gregory, Thomas, Dockrell, Kirby, Trego, Meschede, C Overton.