From the Archive: Two trophies in as many days

With the start of the professional cricket season now delayed until at least May 28th, we will be looking to fill the void by regularly delving into our extensive Club Archives to look back on some of our proudest moments.

We will also be profiling some of our famous former players and reviewing some of our most memorable matches.

Today’s piece takes us back to what is probably the most successful two days in Somerset County Cricket Club’s history over the weekend of  September 8th and 9th 1979.

Somerset County Cricket Club was formed in 1875 and supporters had to wait 104 years to win some silverware.

However, when the drought was eventually ended in 1979 the team won two trophies in as many days!

Losing to Sussex in the Gillette Cup final and falling at the last hurdle in the John Player 40-over League in 1978 saw Somerset’s players report back for pre-season training more determined than ever to make 1979 a year to remember- and so it turned out to be.

On their way to the Gillette Cup Final Somerset had beaten Kent in dramatic style in the quarter-final in front of a packed house at Taunton after recovering from 45 for four to reach 190 all out thanks to 44 from Viv Richards and 50 by Graham Burgess. The visitors were then dismissed for 60 as Joel Garner took five for 11 in 9.4 overs.

Somerset then overcame Middlesex in the semi-final at Lord’s to earn the right to face Northamptonshire in the final at the same venue on Saturday September 8th.

Thousands made their way from the West Country to cheer for their heroes and the team didn’t disappoint.

Northamptonshire won the toss and Jim Watts elected to field.

Openers Brian Rose and Peter Denning put on 34 before latter was caught behind for 19. That brought Viv Richards to the crease and he never looked troubled easing his way to 117 to help Somerset post 269 for eight from their 60 overs. There was also a highly entertaining unbeaten 24 from Joel Garner whilst Rose had made a solid 41.

Chasing 270, the Northamptonshire reply got off to a terrible start as Garner picked up two early wickets to leave them reeling at 13 for two. However, Geoff Cook and Allan Lamb added 113 in just 13 overs to get their side back in the game.

The partnership was ended by a fine throw from Peter Roebuck to run out Cook for 44 and shortly after that Lamb was stumped by Derek Taylor for 78.

Garner returned to the attack and accounted for the lower order as Northants were all out for 224. The big West Indian paceman finished with astonishing figures of six for 29 as Somerset won by 45 runs.

This was Somerset’s first ever trophy and after so many years of waiting the fans streamed on to the pitch at Lord’s to greet their heroes and cheer each in turn as they were awarded with their Gillette Cup Winners medals.

However, there was little time for the players to celebrate because they had to pack their bags ready to set off for Nottingham to play a crucial John Player League match the next day. For Somerset to lift the John Player League we also needed Middlesex to beat Kent at Canterbury.

Batting first at Trent Bridge in a match that was reduced to 39 overs per side, Somerset made 185 for eight. Peter Roebuck made 50 and Ian Botham scored 30.

Clive Rice was a devastating batsman on his day and posed a major threat to Somerset. He was going well until the ever dependable Colin Dredge got one to nip back in and trapped him lbw for 39.

At the same time as Botham was claiming the last Notts wicket to dismiss them for 129 in 33.1 overs, the news came through that Kent had been beaten meaning that Somerset had won the John Player League.

Brian Rose stepped out onto the balcony at Trent Bridge to be presented with Somerset’s second trophy of the weekend. This was a truly memorable two days and will never be forgotten by those who played or watched.

This was the beginning of Somerset’s Glory Years.

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09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground