20 Years On - Class of 2001 look back on C&G triumph

Journalist and Somerset supporter, Sam Dalling has submitted a number of articles to the Club which we will be posting during the next few weeks.

This week’s piece looks back on the 2001 C&G Trophy success.

Almost 20 years have passed since Somerset claimed the C&G Trophy at Lord’s. The world of cricket was very different in September 2001. T20 what? IPL who?  Tom Abell was knee-high to a Wyvern, Will Smeed had yet to be born and even James Hildreth was no more than an age-group batsman of great promise.

The County Championship had recently become two-tiered, and there were a pair of red-ball 50-over trophies to contest by men clad in off-white. Between 1963, when it began life as the Gillette Cup, and 2005, the C&G Trophy was a knock-out tournament.  It was domestic cricket’s premier one-day competition, the final always promising a packed house at the Home of Cricket.

A pair of Keith’s: Dutch and Parsons, Ian Blackwell, and, fleetingly Jamie Cox, recall the journey to victory.

27 June 2001 – 3rd Round – Somerset beat Cambridgeshire by 50 runs

The Avenue Sports Club Ground, March

The cricketing equivalent of the FA Cup third round, this annual fixture gave minor county minnows a chance to triumph over the pros. For those with First Class status, it presented the opportunity of a nasty tumble.  Get in; secure the win; get out was the mantra.

On the same day as a Middlesex side featuring Sir Andrew Strauss, Owais Shah, Angus Fraser and Phil Tufnell succumbed to a shock defeat at Herefordshire, Somerset headed to March Town Cricket Club to take on Cambridgeshire.

At 69 for four batting first the visitors were in trouble. All-rounder Parsons was the fourth man to fall, having made just a single. “I was run-out wasn’t I?” he recalls laughing.  “I can remember the conversation. I was batting with Lathers (Mark Lathwell) and they had a bloke bowling ridiculously slow left-arm over. He was supposed to be a little swing bowler but it was almost a spinner’s pace.

“Everyone had struggled against him apart from Lathers – he was making it look like a different game. I said to him ‘mate I’m just going to knock it into the gap and you can face this guy.’ I pushed it to extra cover and ran but the fielder picked it up and threw down the stumps. That wasn’t part of the plan!”

Fortunately, Lathwell remained unflustered by the chaos surrounding him and, with support from stand-in skipper Mike Burns (36) and long-serving gloveman Rob Turner (46), reached triple figures (101).  The Cidermen finished on 271-9.

Lathwell’s hundred was his first in Somerset colours for three years. It also turned out to be his last.  On 15 September 2001, eight years after featuring in an Ashes series and being named the Cricket Writer’s Young Player of the Year, he drove out of the County Ground following a four-day win over Northamptonshire and never returned.

“He was a phenomenal player – extraordinary,” explained Parsons. “He was very unorthodox looking, holding the bat with a wide grip and the bottom hand flicked it everywhere. He was a very quiet West Country lad who didn’t really enjoy the limelight. He was happier playing for us than he was playing for England I think. All the commentators ripped his technique apart because he didn’t go in and score runs straight away but he was as good a player as we had over that era.”

Blackwell tells a similar tale: “He made the trickiest situations look like a piece of cake. He had so much talent and made the game look so easy. Us mere mortals could just watch in awe.  He was not unlike myself – the more he got told to do things, the less it happened. He was his own man and was the first to say he would rather be in Barnstaple in the pub playing darts than at cricket training or in a gym. He didn’t make a song or dance about any of it. Whether it was a First Class or a club game, he just wanted to socialise with his mates and have a good time.”

Victory came comfortably in the end. Welsh quick Steffan Jones dismissed Cambridgeshire opener Nigel Gadsby before Jamie Grove tore the top order apart. At 56-5 a thrashing seemed likely but former Yorkshire man Simon Kellett (67) and Arjaz Akhtar (78) staged a recovery. But after putting on 121, Dutch broke the resistance and they finished all out for 221.

11 July 2001 – 4th Round – Somerset beat Glamorgan by seven wickets

The County Ground, Taunton.

“A ridiculously good wicket,” as Parsons remembers it. Words that could be lifted from any one of countless pitch reports during multi-award winner Phil Frost’s 23 years as a Taunton groundsman. But the deck prepared for Glamorgan’s mid-July visit was particularly sensational.

The boys from across the Severn Bridge had first dibs, and, courtesy of Matthew Maynard’s unbeaten 93, posted 269/6.  That had seemed worlds away when they lost three wickets with the score on 44, Richard Johnson and Andy Caddick, returning to replace a no doubt mildly peeved Groves, doing the damage. Maynard though found allies in another pair of Glamorgan stalwarts Mike Powell (52) and Steve James (46), and a tricky target was set.

Somerset’s response was magnificent, Marcus Trescothick at his ruthless best. He raced to a 23 ball fifty, and within the hour was dismissed for 121 from just 83 balls.  “That was probably as dominant as he ever was for us,” said Parsons. “The game was done inside 10 overs – he already had 60 or 70. It quickly made their score very manageable and we cruised home.  He put fear into opening bowlers and was not an easy bloke to bowl to as he could score all around the wicket.  He was probably the best there was in the country at that point. You would happily sit and watch him bat.”

Fear puts it mildly. When on-song, Trescothick was peerless, anything short dispatched with disdain, anything over-pitched punched without hesitation.  “It was one of many days where I had the best seat in the house standing at the other end,” recalled Cox. “He cover drove, pulled and clipped his way to this sublime hundred. He got there without playing a big shot. He had the ability to pull teams and attacks apart just by playing orthodox shots. He was such a simple beautifully balanced player.  When he was on, it was just good fun to be a part of.”  Cox, Somerset’s Tasmanian devil, made an unbeaten 63 from only 55 deliveries. The win came with 50 balls unused and seven wickets in hand.

25 July 2001 – Quarter-final – Somerset (263-8) beat Kent (211 all out) by 52 runs

St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

Canterbury next. Kent, knocked out by Somerset at the same stage two years’ previously, had revenge in mind. According to a local rag, the home side suffered stage fright, the TV cameras’ presence resulting in a nervy, slapdash performance.  Cox elected to bat and Trescothick started watchfully, just eight coming from his first 27 balls. “Back then we played with the red ball which did more than the white ball,” explained Blackwell. “You almost had to start as if it was a four-day game.”

Give Trescothick an inch and he will take a boundary. Min Patel shelled one at slip and Ben Trott’s next four deliveries raced to the rope. When the left-hander fell for 43 from 54 balls the score was 84/3, and the game hung in the balance. Up stepped man-of-the-match Burns, the Cumbrian master of all trades striking 71. Blackwell also made 50 at a run a ball and Somerset closed on 263/8.  “We thought it was a pretty good score,” Blackwell continued. “The wicket seemed quite slow and the outfield was lush. We thought it was worth nearer 300. Five or six an over back in the day was a decent chase. That’s a walk in the park nowadays.”

Kent’s danger man was a young Australian called Andrew Symonds. Capable of violently dismantling any attack, his wicket was key. He had just four to his name when Parsons ended his stay. “I had a feeling I might have got him, but I couldn’t remember and didn’t want to brag about that one!” the all-rounder said smiling.

Rob Key top scored with 58 from 106 balls, with the rest putting on what was described by the local paper as a ‘naïve’ display that gave ‘military-medium seamer’ Parsons 3-38. Caddick and Johnson bagged a couple each as Kent were skittled for 211; the semi-final beckoned.

The performance typified that Somerset side, each man capable of match winning contributions, options a plenty with both bat and ball. The sum was far greater than the parts, and the parts were no knock-offs. It felt like something special was occurring.

“Trescothick was in his pomp,” said Dutch. “And we had one of the finest batsman not to get into Australia’s team.  You then had a real engine room of experienced players who got to know their game in one-day cricket; Burns, Parsons and Turner. Then Blackie just did what he did.”

“We had so many options with the ball,” added Blackwell. “Richard Johnson, Andy Caddick and Steffan Jones, plus myself and Keith Dutch as the two spinners. Burnsy and Pars could bowl 20 overs between them. I think even Tres might have had a trundle at some stage, although he quickly gave up his bowling boots and concentrated on his batting – and rightly so!”

“We also had one of the best keepers in the country in Rob Turner, who made some of the most horrendous throws look quite good. He was 6ft 3 and had big shovel hands – that helped! Some of these tiny keepers tend to miss some of the throws but Noddy would pluck them in from everywhere.”

11 August 2001 – Semi – Final – Somerset (230/6) beat Warwickshire (228/8) by four wickets

County Ground, Taunton

One game from a second final in three seasons, and with it a chance to banish the memories of defeat to arch-rivals Gloucestershire at Lord’s in 1999.

The day was dull and dreary, Warwickshire providing the opposition. Opening pair Nick Knight and Mark Wagh started productively.  But Knight, then one of the world’s premier one-day players, was tamed by an early blow from international teammate Caddick. “Caddy had a plan that day and executed it,” explained Dutch “That really sent a message to them because Knight was such a key player at the top of the order, a bit like Trescothick was for us. While he got 45, he was nowhere near his normal aggressive best. He was ruffled.”

Caddick had made quite the impression on Dutch, a feisty cockney all-rounder who had been recruited from Middlesex the previous winter. “I would stand at second slip thinking I was going to get a catch every single ball,” he said. “Every single ball. Noddy (Rob Turner) would keep telling me I was standing too far back. He was worried I was too short and the ball was going to go over my head! With the length and bounce Caddy got the ball would just keep carrying.”

Despite Knight’s lack of fluidity Warwickshire reached triple figures none down.  Eventually Parsons made the breakthrough, deceiving Wagh (46) into offering a return grab.  Burns dismissed pinch-hitter Dougie Brown (2) and then Knight (45) was gone: two years later the left-hander would deal with Shoaib Akhtar’s 100mph efforts as if brushing his teeth, but Parsons’ probing proved too much.  Later Knight would pop to Musgrove for a check-up, a young Ian Bell fielding in his place.

101 without loss had become 129 for four when David Hemp (11) fell cheaply. Mike Powell (39) and the evergreen Trevor Penny (39) restored stability but even with conditions favouring swing, neither Blackwell nor Dutch bowled, 228/8 felt under par at Taunton.

To say Somerset were in a spot of bother is akin to suggesting the Titanic had a minor mishap: six on the board and Trescothick (4), Bowler (0) and Burns (0) rendered spectators. Neil Carter and Brown did the new-ball damage.

But Cox, dogged as he was talented, had suffered a quartet of final defeats in his career and yearned another title shot. His 47 gave the tightly-packed Taunton crowd hope, and both Parsons (31) and Blackwell (30) helped nudge the score along.

When Cox fell an even 100 was needed with just four wickets remaining. To the fore Turner (42*) and Dutch (61*). “When I came into bat Noddy looked at me and reckoned my eyes were a bit too wide open,” laughs Dutch. “I was pumped, a bit too pumped. He had to come down and have a word with me a few times because he felt I was looking to take it on a bit too early. He reminded me we still had 20 overs to go and that we only needed five an over. So, I just played and occasionally my attacking nature meant that I wanted to take it on. There was a fine balance. I might have ridden my luck a couple of times in between some good cricket.”

Neither man had a reputation for clearing the ropes, instead relying on nudges, nurdles and non-conformity to accumulate. Turner was an early champion of what is now mainstream, regularly dropping to one knee and flicking bemused bowlers over his head.   “It was just coming into the game at that time for those who were brave enough or stupid enough to do it,” said Parsons. “I didn’t like sweeping the spinners let alone the 80mph bowler!”

“He wasn’t a power hitter so I think he felt he needed to add something to his game,” added Blackwell. “I remember previously at Tunbridge Wells we had needed four to tie and I saw him go down on one knee and thought ‘oh my god, what are you doing?’. He just ramped it over the keeper’s head for four. We were all wondering what had just happened. No one had seen the scoop before.”

The pair reached the target with time to spare, sending Somerset fans into raptures and local coach companies scrambling to find drivers.  Dutch finished unbeaten on 61 from just 54. It was his highest List A score and a knock that helped speed up his status as an adopted local.

“I was a bit nervous, like everyone that day,” Dutch admitted . “Dougie Brown had been nipping it around and that was a little bit challenging. I remember hitting an on-drive for four back past him and thought ‘oh I feel quite good now’. That got me going.

“We had very passionate supporters and I was very grateful of their support. When you speak like I do and you come down to Somerset, you can be seen as an outsider. But I think they saw what I gave, and that I was 100% committed to playing for Somerset. I think they liked that about me and the semi-final win probably helped. Maybe if we had lost they might not have had the same affection for me!”

For four years Dutch was a virtual ever present in one-day cricket, his tidy off-spin and handy lower order contributions winning numerous games. For the first two summers he did not miss a County Championship beat. “He was a competitive little devil,” said Parsons. “You were always in the fight with him in the side. He hit the ball in funny areas, slicing it over backward point all the time, and got useful runs for us. He found a way of getting the job done.”

1 September – Final – Somerset (271/5) beat Leicestershire (230 all out) by 41 Runs

Lord’s, London  

Lord’s: cricket’s undisputed home. Nestled in St John’s Wood suburbia, with its infamous Long Room and old Father Time gazing over the outfield it. It is the venue of dreams for cricketers worldwide.

The final offered Somerset the chance to secure the club’s first silverware for 18 years. The last had come in 1983, Sir Vivian Richards’ (51) and Vic Marks (3-30) ensuring Kent were defeated. That win made it a fantastic fifth title in as many seasons, but anyone conceived in the immediate aftermath soon be reaching nightclub eligibility without having seen a trophy lifted.

Memories of occasions like the Final tend to be retrospectively tinted maroon, but it truly was a glorious sunshine-filled September day when swathes of Somerset fans stormed the capital.  T20 was embryonic and this was domestic cricket’s pinnacle.

For all-rounder Dutch, there was added emotion.  He and Richard Johnson had both called the ground home less than 12 months’ previously before swapping London’s hustle for Somerset’s serene surrounds.  “It was my home club and there was a lot of disappointment that I hadn’t managed to build a longer-term career there,” he admitted.  “I had been to Lord’s a lot on major match days so I had seen it full, although I am not saying I was used to playing there when it was full. The biggest crowd I had played in before the Final was 12,000 for a B&H quarter-final against Warwickshire when they had Allan Donald. Half the ground was still empty.  I had eight years at Middlesex so it was a sizeable time, and going back there to play the Final was an immensely proud moment. I must have bought 60 tickets for family and friends.”

As well as Dutch’s fan club, Mum, Dad and Grandad all among them, there was a travelling contingent as audible as it was sizable.  “I remember sitting on the balcony when the Leicester lads ran out to field and there was this massive roar,” recalled Parsons. “Hairs on the back of your neck stood up.  But then Marcus and Bowls (Peter Bowler) walked out and it was five times louder. For someone who hasn’t experienced international cricket it was incredible to witness the noise. Somerset fans outnumbered the Leicester fans by four or five to one.  They dominated the day.”

Bowler and Trescothick made their way to the middle after Cox had called correctly. The plan?  Pile the pressure on a Leicestershire side who had been flying in the Norwich Union league before stuttering, including twice at the hands of Somerset. The second of those losses had come just six days earlier at Grace Road.

The game’s opening throes will always be remembered for one thing, or at least one person. Scott Boswell, a bustling medium pace swing bowler who endured a career defining morning. Sadly it was also a career ending one.

He had recorded a career-best in the semi-final, dismissing no lesser men than Michael Atherton, Neil Fairbrother, Andrew Flintoff and Graham Lloyd. But the Final was not so kind.

His first over went for nine; expensive but not horrendous.  Vince Wells kept the faith but Boswell’s second lasted 14 balls, including five successive wides. A switch to around the wicket did about as much good as microwaving tinfoil. His teammates barely knew where to look.  “It was really tough,” said Parsons. “The previous winter I had been in New Zealand with Bossy and got to know him pretty well. The first couple of wides you think ‘oh great some free runs’. But then you can see what is happening and you just desperately want him to get through the over. Obviously you don’t want him to suddenly bowl a jaffa and get rid of Marcus – you just want the over to drift by and move on. It was a dreadful day for him – even certain things didn’t go his way in the outfield. You never enjoyed watching anyone go through that.” Boswell bowled just one more over in his professional career.

Somerset had made 40 when Trescothick fell for 18. Bowler (42) and Cox (44) both made starts before falling to the leg spin of Shahid Afridi. Blackwell (15) too was dismissed by the Pakistan star, who offered the left-hander some verbal encouragement to leave the field.

Time for a little bit of Parsons, a man as intrinsically Somerset as Glastonbury Tor. “It was a nice time to come in as the tempo required was set really,” he recalls with typical modesty. “It suited my game perfectly as I was able to knock it around for a while and then try to be a bit more expansive towards the end.” When Burns (21) was well caught by Darren Maddy scuttling around the deep-midwicket boundary there were just under 14 overs remaining, and Turner joined in the fun.  “We complimented each other well,” continued Parsons. “We knew we had a bit of batting to come so we could time our challenge a little early. We got to the last five overs with a few wickets left and we freed up a bit.”

Free up they did, propelling the score to 271-5. Turner ended unbeaten on 37. “Noddy was unorthodox at times,” explained Dutch. “He was a little more leg side than a lot of players. A lot of players don’t find themselves until they are 25 or 26 and once you get to that stage you have learned enough to understand your limitations. Noddy knew his game inside out. He is one of the best teammates I have ever had.”

But the real star was Parsons, a man who wore the wyvern more than 400 times. He finished 60 not out having launched Phil DeFratis for back-to-back maximums to close the innings.   “A little bit of magic at the end from the housewife’s favourite as we used to call him,” said Blackwell. “That got us past 270 and gave us the confidence going into the afternoon.”

The Leicestershire reply started with a Andrew Caddick maiden, leaving danger man Afridi to face Johnson’s express swing. Afridi was, officially at least (his autobiography last year suggested he was in fact born in 1975), just 21 but already reached passed  100 international appearances.

He had announced his arrival a few years prior with as much subtlety as a boyband key change, bludgeoning a century from a then world-record 37 balls. When the teams met six days previously he had dashed his way to 58 from just 25 balls.

Afridi’s intention was clear from ball one, mistiming a hook that spiralled up off the splice before landing short of Steffan Jones at mid-on.  So he reeled it in right? Wrong, a huge swipe to the next ball. Had he connected passengers at Paddington station might have been in danger but leather whistled straight through to Turner.  In Johnson’s second over Afridi had more luck, earning 14 from the first four balls. Then came the big moment, another attempted heave to leg and up, up it went.  “He doesn’t die wondering and it went a ridiculous height – miles up,” said Blackwell. “He gave me a torrent of abuse when he got me out, dropping the F-bomb about six times.  I was at third man in front of the Compton Stand and by the time Noddy caught it I was level with him ready to let Afridi have some back!”

But, much like Somerset, Leicestershire had match winners from one to eleven. Maddy joined Trevor Ward and the pair settled, bringing up three figures before Ward (54) fell to Parsons, who then had Wells (3) caught behind cheaply.  Maddy, who had appeared sporadically for England across the previous two summers, was now the key wicket. “It was of game of cat and mouse between he and I,” explained Dutch. “He looked like he was settling in for the long term to bat the whole way through. I played against him a lot and had gotten him out a number of times previously. But it felt like he had worked on how to face me: he kept coming down the wicket, getting inside the ball and hitting me to mid-on. I was getting a bit frustrated that he was milking me.”

Then with Maddy just one shy of a half-century Dutch had his man. “We had started to squeeze them and put them under a bit of pressure,” he said. “I dragged him a little bit outside off stump and he didn’t want to go there, and then I took the pace off of when and got him caught and bowled.”

Eight Foxes’ batsmen reached double figures, but only Maddy and Ward passed 23. With the benefit of hindsight the win was a relaxed, the margin 41 runs. But out in the middle it did not feel that way.  “Unless they need seven, eight, nine an over, you are never comfortable,” said Blackwell. “I came back at the end and Dutchy was saying ‘dart it in’. I tossed it up and Jimmy Ormond hit me for the biggest six over the Pavilion. Dutchy gave me evils and let me have it. I wanted to kill him – it shouldn’t have been as intense but everybody wanted to win so much. It is never over until it’s over and when Steffan got the final wicket there was a big sigh of relief.”

A broad grin emerges when Dutch his asked for his version: “I told him I wanted an f-ing winners medal and if he kept bowling it there I would come and hit him. I think if he had hit me back he would have put me in the stands! It was about closing the game out without getting away from the basics. We didn’t need to be clever. I probably said it a little bit more emotionally than that though!”

The players were joined by their families in the Lord’s dressing rooms and there they stayed for hours, basking in their glory while watching England hammer Germany 5-1. Most were tucked up at a reasonable hour. Most, but not all. “I was still out celebrating at 4 in the morning,” recalls Dutch. “I couldn’t find any of my teammates after midnight, I think they had all gone to bed; the only person I remember seeing late that night was the 12th man for Leicestershire in a nightclub in Piccadily where I ended up with my wife and father-in-law. We were all staying on the same floor so when I got back to the hotel about 4am I smashed on every door singing Somerset la la la la and then went to bed!”

As it should be Keith, as it should be.

Cricket journalist Sam Dalling (@sammyd767) is a Somerset fan who regularly writes for The Cricketer.

Sam grew up a Junior Sabre and is among a small category of Newcastle United season ticket holders that are also Somerset fans. Now based in London, he is trying to write about cricket, and will do so for anyone and everyone that replies to his emails.

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