Richardson inspires Somerset to promotion
St John's Field (Somerset won toss): Somerset beat Cleveland by 81 runs
Alje Richardson would have had a comfortable sleep on his overnight flight back to Cardiff on Saturday night knowing that his 81 a few hours earlier proved to be the difference between the two teams in the promotion and relegation play-off match at St John's Field.
Richardson, who went straight to the airport after the match, made certain he will be playing in the Premier Division with Somerset next season when he returns from school, after sharing in a crucial century stand with Dalin Richardson for the third wicket.
It is the second straight time that a First Division team has beaten a team from the Premier Division in the playoff match, after Flatts achieved it last year with victory over Western Stars after Somerset were the team handed automatic relegation.
The stand of 103 in 14 overs put Somerset, batting with only ten men, in a good position at 145 for three after 21.1 overs when Alje was stumped by Bryce Daniels to end a knock that lasted 84 minutes and included eight fours and five sixes. He faced 58 balls.
After that, Dalin Richardson, a former Western Stars player, showed his familiarity with his old ground by carrying on to reach his century before departing immediately after on 101.
The Bermuda Under-19 captain batted for 144 minutes, faced 100 balls and hit 13 fours and three sixes to take Somerset to a challenging total of 225 in 41.2 overs.
The only other Somerset batsman in double figures was opener Jade Morrissey with 14 as Dean Stephens, who shared the new ball with Mackih McGowan, led the Cleveland bowling with four for 40 from ten overs with two maidens.
Makai Young supported with three for 41 from his ten overs while Tybrae Robinson took two for 35 off 4.2 overs as first change as the Richardson/Richardson partnership gained momentum.
Dennis Musson, the most experienced of the Cleveland bowlers, was the most expensive, giving up 57 runs in his ten overs though he did have two maidens, while McGowan went for 34 in four overs.
Cleveland had the worst possible start in their run chase with Daniels trapped lbw on the second ball of the innings from Greg Maybury.
They recovered to reach 32 in the next four overs through player-coach Curtis Jackson and Q'shai Darrell, but the game swung totally in Somerset's favour in the next six overs when they stumbled to 51 for five by the tenth over.
Gone were Jackson (6), Darrell (21) and top batsmen, captain Steven Bremar and Dean Stephens, who both failed to reach double figures as opening pair Maybury and captain Jordan DeSilva shared the first five wickets.
Richardson, who replaced Maybury at the southern end in the 11th over, picked up a wicket with his first delivery when he bowled Ian Armstrong to keep Somerset in control.
Musson hit a couple of fours off youngster Darian Gibbons in his first over before he departed in that same over, caught at backward square leg by Seth Gibbons for eleven after hooking a short delivery.
At 566 for seven it seemed certain that Somerset would seal their immediate return to the Premier Division. However, a quickfire stand of 70 for the eighth wicket in just six overs between Young and McGowan began to give Cleveland faint hope.
The pair took the score from 66 to 136 between the 12th and 18th overs as Cleveland at least put some respectability in their score. Young and McGowan hardly looked troubled as they smashed boundaries at will.
However, Dalin Richardson came into the attack and picked up the crucial wicket of McGowan, bowling him for 34 after just being hit for a straight six.
McGowan faced 23 balls and hit four fours and two sixes, before losing his wicket at a crucial time.
Maybury came back on to claim two more wickets to end the match, with Young last out, caught at mid-wicket by DeSilva looking for a single to keep the strike. He scored 30 from 31 balls in 62 minutes and hit six fours.