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From the Archive: Somerset v Lancashire 2005 T20 Final

Throughout the year we have been going back through our archives, in association with Cooper Associates, to shine the spotlight on former players, memorable matches and outstanding performances.

With our Vitality Blast quarter-final against Lancashire Lightning looming large on the horizon, we thought we would take a look back at the most famous T20 meeting between the two sides; the Twenty20 Cup final at the Oval in 2005.

The first semi-final saw Lancashire overcome Surrey by 22 runs, whilst Somerset came out on top against Leicestershire by four runs in a dramatic second semi.

Ahead of the final, rain fell heavily and the start time for the match was delayed. When the game finally got underway at 8.15pm it had been reduced to 16-overs per side.

Batting first, Lancashire’s star studded side were restricted to 114 for eight, Richard Johnson claiming three for 22 and Andy Caddick two for 21.

When Somerset batted, Graeme Smith seemed determined to win the match on his own in what was to be his final appearance for the County. He opened the innings and remained unbeaten on 64 as Somerset reached 118 for three in 14.1 overs.

In the end it was left to a 20-year-old James Hildreth to hit the winning runs.

James played in all 11 T20 matches in 2005, scoring 203 runs and claiming 10 wickets.

Recalling that special day, James said: “Lancashire had an almost all star XI at the time and we went into the game as underdogs. That was a tag that seemed to suit our style of play. We thrived off being the underdog. It was a great tournament and I just can’t believe that it was that long ago. To hit the winning runs with Graeme Smith at the other end is something that will always live long in the memory.

“Everyone in the squad played their part that year, whether it was Keith Parsons or Wes Durston or Carl Gazzard. Everyone held their hand up and performed at some point, and Graeme was an inspirational captain. He was brilliant to have around and made a big difference to us coming together as a team.”

Like James, Ian Blackwell believes that Somerset had been underestimated going into Finals Day. “I felt that we went into Finals Day as the underdogs”, he said. “I certainly don’t think that anyone thought we’d beat Lancashire, and I think that worked in our favour. There were so many tight games in the competition and we kept just getting over the line.  It was almost as if our name was on the trophy. It just seemed as though it was our year even in the final when Johnno [Richard Johnson] dropped a relatively simple catch off Mal Loye, but then caught him not long after.  You couldn’t write that sort of stuff!”

Andy Caddick also remembers that early drop. “The final started off in strange fashion for me,” he said. “In my first over Mal Loye smacked me straight down deep square legs throat where Richard Johnson decided to drop the ball! Thankfully, three balls later he did exactly the same thing and this time Mr Johnson caught it!

“For Somerset to have done so well in that competition that year was unprecedented and just goes to show the quality of the players playing. There was also a big enjoyment factor and a huge will to win. We scraped through in the semi-final, and once we got to the final it was just do or die! We just threw caution to the wind and gave it 100%. We played out of our skins in that final and thoroughly deserved to win it. It was an up and down sort of tournament, but it was very enjoyable.”

Keith Parsons also played a pivotal role in Somerset’s success that year. What does he remember about the Final? “It was rain delayed, but we started off really well despite dropping a catch early on,” he said. “We recovered well, held our catches after that and fortunately didn’t have many to chase. I remember Graeme Smith saying at half time that we had it in the bag and then he went and did the rest.

“We prepared really well for the competition. We had a couple of sessions out on the field with the bowling machines where we tried to hit certain targets and things like that. I think they call that range hitting these days! With the bowling, yorkers were the key, so the death bowlers worked on that. To win the Twenty20 Cup at that stage was a really big achievement for us. It’s always nice to win a big competition!”

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