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From the Archive: Vic has Lancashire in a spin

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.

Today we go back to 1985 when Vic Marks took eight wickets in an innings to help Somerset to a comprehensive win over Lancashire in a three-day County Championship match at Bath.

After winning the toss, Vic, who was captaining the side, elected to bat first.

Nigel Felton (76) and Viv Richards (65) helped Somerset post a first innings total of 304 for seven.

Despite a half century from David Hughes, the visitors were dismissed for just 153. Joel Garner was the destroyer-in-chief, claiming four for 18 from 14.4 overs.

Somerset’s captain enforced the follow on and Lancashire began the final day on 15 without loss.

Vic’s previous best had been eight for 141 but by the time he had finished, Lancashire were all out for 89, Somerset had won by an innings and 62 runs and the England spinner had eight for 17. His match figures were 11 for 73.

What does he remember about the game?

“In those days at Bath you almost had to create a cricket ground out of nothing,” he recalled when we spoke to him recently. “Back when I started at Somerset, the young pups like myself, Peter Roebuck and Phil Slocombe would have to go up there and help to construct the ground. We’d be carrying chairs and shoving benches around and helping to put up marquees. We always used to get good crowds there and there was a festival atmosphere.

“Winning the toss was quite important. It had been a pretty wet summer and we played on the same pitch that we’d played Gloucestershire on. That meant that it was a day four pitch when we started and it wasn’t going to get any better.

“I remember that Simon Turner was our keeper that day. Trevor Guard got injured against Gloucestershire and so we drafted in Simon, who had done the same thing the previous year for a few games. They had Patrick Patterson playing for them and he was terrifying! He was very quick and went on to terrorize England the following year.

“They must have known it was going spin because they played quite a few spinners. Folley and Simmonds bowled about 90 overs between them when we batted. It was slow going and it was starting to turn, so 304 was a pretty damn good score actually.

“When it was our turn to bowl, Joel made a few inroads, as he so often did. The fact that it was a spinning wicket didn’t really matter to him. Our left-arm spinner was Stephen Booth, who was a young Yorkshireman who bowled even slower than me. He bowled beguiling left-arm spin and was a good cricketer.

“We only just bowled them out to enforce the follow on, and in those days you always enforced the follow on. Then, in the second innings everything just clicked. To be fair, the pitch was deteriorating and they had quite a lot of left handers, which helped an off spinner. It was turning and one just had to be fairly accurate and patient because you knew that something might well happen.

“We bottled them up and gave them nothing to hit and they got a bit paranoid by the end. I remember bowling to Graeme Fowler in that game. He was an old mate of mine from touring. Now, I never sledged, but I did like a chat and I was whittering on at Graeme and he asked the umpire to tell the bowler to stop talking to him! Therefore, I was asked politely by David Constant to stop talking to the batsman.

“In the context of the season, although we went on to win this game it was a pretty awful year. I think this was our only win of the season in the County Championship. We scored quite a few runs and Botham got a whole stash of them and Viv got his usual quota, but despite all that this was the only game we won.

“Those were by a long way my best figures. The conditions were very much in my favour and the batsmen were seeing horrors everywhere. I never got anywhere near figures like that except in a grade game in Perth. It didn’t spin quite so much on that occasion but amazingly I got nine for 28! Those were two games where everything just clicked and the batsmen couldn’t combat it. I look back on that day with astonishment, but eight for 17 looks good in the records.

“I don’t know if it was my finest moment in a Somerset shirt, but it was definitely the finest moment of that bloomin’ season!”

Vic Marks’ new book, entitled “Late Cuts, Musings On Cricket” is now available to buy.

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