SOMERSET director of cricket Dave Nosworthy says his side still harbour hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Natwest T20 Blast, despite a poor start to the competition.

The Cider men kept their hopes alive with a 39-run victory over Hampshire on Sunday thanks to a half-century from Craig Kieswetter – and Nosworthy insists his side are “desperate” to qualify.

He said: “There have been some very good performances with the bat in four day cricket and I think our bowling disciplines have been very good. The hope was for that to move into our limited overs cricket, but in fairness the T20 has not gone as well as we might have wanted.

“We are still in with a sniff of qualifying and we will be doing everything we can to qualify. We haven’t been able to get any real momentum in Twenty20 and that’s been the problem.

“The team has changed a lot from the last four years and this year we’ve got four or five new faces in that style of the game – but no excuses, there have been games that we should have won and haven’t, but we haven’t been completely outplayed in any of them.

“We are not out of it and we are still desperate to qualify.”

Somerset face a gruelling schedule of fixtures in July which sees them play 11 days in a row across varying formats – and Nosworthy believes this month’s “tough” schedule will be a huge test for his squad.

He said: “I think the next few weeks we’ve got a pretty tough schedule – there’s a period where I think we play 11 days in a row and that is going to be really tough from a mental point of view.

“If we can come through unscathed we will be in a good position for the business end of the season, so the next month is key.”