When Shoaib came to Taunton
Somerset take on Pakistan in a three-day match beginning on Sunday so we thought we would take a quick look at a match when two of Pakistan’s Test players wore the Wyvern.
When Somerset took to the field against Australia at Taunton in 2001 there were two very well-known players making their first and only appearances for the County.
Shoaib Akhtar and Aamir Sohail were named in the starting line up by Somerset First XI Coach Kevin Shine for the four-day Vodafone Challenge match against a strong Australian side.
Former Somerset all-rounder Keith Parsons played in the game and gave us his memories when we caught up with him this week. “We had a few injuries at the time and we needed a bit of firepower for the Australia game,” he said. “It’s always nice to have international stars coming to play for Somerset and it’s better to have someone like Shoaib Akhtar on your side rather than playing against you! They both fitted in with the dressing room pretty well and seemed to enjoy themselves over the few days that they were here. Shoaib got a few wickets and Aamir got some runs which helped us along.”
Somerset Assistant Coach Jason Kerr also featured in the game. “Having two players of that calibre in your side against international opposition certainly adds something to the occasion,” he said. “Shoaib Akhtar was brilliant to watch because he was at the height of his powers at the time and the spell he bowled in the second innings was unbelievably quick. I was fielding at slip and we were a long, long way back hoping that they didn’t nick it! That spell felt like it was at the speed of light. The batsmen were really struggling for time and we are talking about high quality batsmen here.
“They were both really good in the dressing room too. Aamir Sohail was quite quiet and just went about his business whereas Shoaib Akhtar was a big personality and really good fun to be around.”
Did Jason learn anything from the Pakistan fast bowler during his short spell? “I did learn something,” he said. “I learned that I couldn’t bowl anywhere near as quickly as he could!”
As for the match itself Australia declared on 348 for three in their first innings after Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer, who would both eventually play for Somerset, made centuries. Ponting was eventually dismissed for 128 when he was bowled by Shoaib Akhtar. In reply Aamir Sohail top scored for Somerset with 50 but the hosts were all out for 267 as Damien Fleming took six for 59.
Shoaib Akhtar dismissed both Australian openers second time around to finish with two for nine from 7 overs but 176 not out from Damien Martyn moved Australia to 335 for four before they declared. Half centuries from Mike Burns and Matt Wood plus 36 from Aamir Sohail gave Somerset a glimmer of hope but the Australian bowlers continued to take wickets and the home side were eventually all out for 240 as the tourists won by 176 runs.
What does Keith remember most about playing alongside Shoaib Ahktar, who was one of the biggest names in the sport at the time? “Strangely enough I remember Ricky Ponting hitting him for six over my head at deep mid-wicket,” he said. “It was one of his quick bouncers in what was a very quick spell and Ricky just flat batted him in to the pavilion.”
Just how quick was the Rawalpindi Express? “He was the quickest I had seen in a long time,” said Keith. “He was much better to watch from slip than he was from 22 yards!”
Tickets for our three-day match against Pakistan are still available.
A three-day pass is available at a cost of just £35 for adults and £10 for under 19’s
To purchase your Three-Day Pass please click here
Tickets for individual days are also still available at a cost of £20 for adults in advance for days one and two whilst day three tickets cost just £10 in advance. Tickets for under 19′s cost £5 in advance for days one and two whilst day three tickets cost just £3 in advance.
Pictures courtesy of Getty Images