New Zealand bring special memories
New Zealand’s return to the County Ground on Friday after an absence of 11 years will bring back happy memories for three former Somerset players who have shone against the Black Caps.
When the two sides met in 1999 (the first time in a four day encounter) 25 year old opener Greg Kennis who joined Somerset in 1998 after a four year spell with Surrey hit a career best 175. That wasn’t the only three figure innings because Steffan Jones, another 25 year old, scored his maiden first class century batting at number nine to help Somerset to post 554 all out, which also included 66 from Adrian Pierson and 59 from Rob Turner.
New Zealand in reply were bowled out for 420 with opening bowler Jason Kerr taking three for 65 from 15 overs, Ian Jones three for 81 from 19.2 and Steffan Jones two for 76 off 16.
Second time around Somerset didn’t fare so well and were bowled out for 146, of which Kerr made 48 with eight 4s and a 6, Mike Burns 39 while Turner was unbeaten on 32.
New Zealand reached their required 282 for four wickets in 59 overs, Keith Parsons claimed all four wickets to end with four for 62 from 12.
Reflecting on that memorable game Kennis, who is now Head Coach for the Somerset Cricket Board said: “This innings was the highlight of my First Class career, so its pretty special for me and it was an enjoyable day. Everything felt comfortable and I felt good on the day. I middled a few and then I was off.
“The wicket was a good one and I scored 35 fours. I had been playing well for the Second XI ahead of the New Zealand match and had got three hundreds on the trot so I was in decent form and fortunately it carried on. I tried to relax and play like I had been in previous matches and it all came together nicely.”
Steffan Jones remembers his maiden First Class century fondly and said: “ It was bizarre really because it was near the start of my career and I was still a rugby playing cricketer. I batted at number nine and went in during the evening of day one and got 40 pretty quickly because Dion Nash and Chris Cairns were bowling quickly, most of them down to third man.
“In the morning Channel 4 was just starting and Mark Nicholas wanted to interview me. When I went out again my 50 came up and then quickly on to 90 but I was stuck on 97 for what seemed like ages. Then I decided to go for it and slogged Daniel Vettori for three and it felt pretty good. Then I cam out to bowl and got two wickets pretty quickly – Roger Twose and Stephen Fleming and New Zealand were four for two!”
The next time that New Zealand played at Taunton was in a 50 over game in September 2004 in an ICC Champions Trophy Warm Up match and in that game it was Taunton born bowler Mike Parsons who came to the fore.
Batting first the Black Caps slipped to 84 for four before Hamish Marshall (56) and Cairns with 108 took the score to 257.
Mike Parsons then returned to the attack and in his final spell took five of the six remaining wickets that New Zealand lost for the addition of just 18 runs before they were all out for 275. Parsons ended with a career best return of 10 overs, one maiden six for 30. Not bad for a 19 year old!
In reply Somerset were all out for 170 in 39.4 overs of which Keith Parsons made 48.
Reflecting on that day Mike said: “That has to be one of the highlights of my Somerset career. To get so many international batsmen out felt pretty good, but I think it was my brother who was watching who felt more excited about it than I did at the time.”
It will be interesting to see if any of the current crop of young Somerset players makes their mark in the 2015 fixture against New Zealand which begins on Friday.
Tickets for the match are still available with prices starting at just £20 per day for adults and £5 for under 19′s.
Alternatively you can purchase a 4-Day pass for just £50 for adults and £20 for under 19′s.
Tickets can be purchased by clicking here
There will also be a special Thatchers Cider Festival taking place for the duration of the match with a number of ciders available.