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From the Archive: Peter Denning

It seems hard to believe, but it’s 10 years since Somerset hero Peter Denning, affectionately known as Dasher because of the speed with which he could run in the field and between the wickets, passed away at the young age of 57.

Dasher was a Somerset thoroughbred who was born and grew up at Chewton Mendip, where his father was the village butcher.

He attended the local village primary school where he excelled at all sports before moving onto Edgarley Hall at Glastonbury, where he started at the same time as former Somerset paceman Bryan Lobb began his teaching career there.

Dasher quickly made his mark at all the sporting activities he could fit into his busy young life and played in the junior cricket, rugby, soccer and tennis teams.

However, it was cricket in which he excelled as a left handed batsman and more than useful wicket-keeper.

At Millfield School, where he later captained the side, he came to the attention of the Somerset selectors and played through the County age groups alongside Brian Rose, who was later to be his captain.

Dasher made his First Class debut for Somerset against Glamorgan in June 1969 and in that first season he played in 13 First Class matches, scoring 342 runs.

When he first joined Somerset, the County was going through a lean period but all of that changed when Brian Close arrived from Yorkshire to take charge.

Under Close’s stewardship, a team that included the likes of Viv Richards, Ian Botham and Joel Garner, as well as some exciting lesser known local talent like Dasher, grew up.

Peter was awarded his County Cap in 1973 and scored his maiden First Class century in 1976, 107 against Glamorgan at Clarence Park, Weston-super-Mare.

He scored 1000 First Class runs in a season for the first time in 1975, after which there were five further occasions that he passed the landmark. The best of these being in 1979 when he hit 1222.

Being fleet footed made him a natural for one-day cricket and so it proved. He became a key member of the Somerset side that won five one-day trophies in as many seasons.

Often batting in partnership with Brian Rose, the Somerset duo thrilled the large number of supporters who thronged to the County Ground to cheer their side to one-day success.

In 1980, in partnership with Ian Botham, Dasher put on 310 for the fourth wicket against Gloucestershire at Taunton, at the end of which he remained unbeaten on 98.

During his career Peter won seven man of the match awards, but at the end of 1984 he had to retire after cartilage problems.

Later he went onto become a grain merchant before he sadly died in 2007.

During a career that lasted between 1969 and 1984, Peter played in 269 First Class games in which he scored 11559 runs which included eight centuries and a best of 184 at Trent Bridge against Notts in 1980.

He also played in 280 one-day matches (a record for the County that he shares with Graham Rose) in which he scored 6792 runs.

His former captain Brian Rose, said: “To me, Peter epitomised all that should be good in a professional cricketer. He was hard, stubborn and made it difficult for the opposition – especially when he growled at them! His sad death was a tremendous loss to Somerset cricket.”

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