On the eve of the Australia v Pakistan ICC Cricket World Cup clash at County Ground Taunton, we finish our look at the two team’s matches against Somerset by focusing on Australia.

Somerset first took on a touring Australia side at Taunton way back in the summer of 1882. Unfortunately for the home side the three-day match was dominated by the visitors. Australia won the toss, elected to bat and posted a total of 245 all out. In reply Somerset were dismissed for just 96 as Frederick Spofforth ripped through the home batsmen on his way to nine for 51. Forced to follow on, Somerset faired slightly better but were still bowled out for just 130 as Spofforth claimed another four wickets as Australia won the match by an innings and 19 runs and used just the two bowlers in the match.

Somerset had to wait until 1977 for their first win over Australia and it came at The Recreation Ground in Bath in a three-day match. Australia were full of confidence as they arrived on these shores for the Ashes having won the previous two series. However, there was a certain degree of unrest within the camp as a number of players became involved with Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket League. What was to be a remarkable summer for English cricket had its foundations set in those three days at Bath.

The tourists won the toss and elected to bat, but it was the Somerset bowlers who made the better start as Rick McCosker was caught by Ian Botham off the bowling of Joel Garner for just two and Craig Serjeant also went early as Australia wobbled at 57 for two. However, captain and former Somerset player Greg Chappell (113) and Gary Cosier (44) steadied the ship before they both fell to Garner. The West Indian was in inspired form on the day and took four for 66 from his 20 overs. Despite Garner’s impressive display he was not the pick of the bowlers. Graham Burgess was the man who stole the headlines as he ripped through the Australian lower order to take five for 25 from just 9.3 overs to leave Australia all out for 232.

In reply Somerset made a solid start and had reached 81 before the first wicket fell. Peter Denning was the man to go for 39 when he was caught behind by Rodney Marsh. Two of Somerset’s big names failed to make an impact as both Viv Richards (18) and captain Brian Close (0) were dismissed cheaply, but half centuries from Botham (59) and Phil Slocombe (55*) pushed Somerset towards a good total. The star performer with the bat though was undoubtedly Brian Rose who opened the batting and remained unbeaten on 110* when the home side declared on 340 for five.

The highlights of the Australian second innings were 50 from Serjeant, 108 for David Hookes and 39 from Chappell, but Botham was in good form with the ball and finished with four for 98, whilst Garner took two for 71. Somerset could see that victory was within their grasp and 53 from Richards and 39* from Botham saw them over the line by seven wickets for a historic first ever win over Australia on what was one of the most famous days in the Club’s history.

This win for Somerset was a precursor to the Ashes later that summer as England regained the urn with an impressive 3 – 0 series victory as Botham made his Test debut.

Somerset would have to wait nearly 30 years for our next victory over the touring Australians.

2005 saw Pope Benedict XVI succeed Pope John Paul II, the Live 8 concerts take place and the launch of Youtube. It was also an Ashes year.

Before the series got underway the tourists played a number of warm up fixtures and arrived in Taunton for a 50-over match against Somerset in mid-June. Australia picked a strong side which featured Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Brett Lee and Glen McGrath. Somerset also had some famous names on show in the shape of Graeme Smith and Sanath Jayasuriya.

Having won the toss Australia elected to bat and made a solid start. Katich was the first man to go with the score on 60. Hayden chose to retire out when he reached 76 from 53 balls and Ponting (80) chose to do the same. Martyn (44), Clarke (63) and Hussey (51) all made good contributions to the score as the visitors made 342 for five from their allotted overs.

It was vital for Somerset to make a good start as they attempted to chase down such a mammoth total, and that’s exactly what they did. Smith and Jayasuriya took the attack to the Australian bowlers and put on a massive 197 for the opening wicket. Smith was the man to go when he was stumped by Brad Haddin off the bowling of Clarke for 108 from just 74 balls. Jayasuriya also passed the century mark before being caught by Hussey off the bowling of McGrath for 101 to leave Somerset at 231 for two. The home side lost four more wickets for just 60 runs but James Hildreth (38*) and Carl Gazzard (21*) steadied the ship and eventually saw Somerset home by four wickets with 19 balls to spare.

This result also set the tone for the rest of the summer as the whole nation developed cricket fever as England (helped in no small part by Marcus Trescothick) finally regained the Ashes after so many years and ensured that 2005 would be a year to remember for both England and Somerset supporters.


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