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Jamie Cox back at Taunton

Jamie Cox, who captained the Club to Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy glory at Lord’s in 2001, was back at the Cooper Associates County Ground recently, and during his time here we managed to catch up with him.

“Its fabulous to be back in Taunton,” he said. “It feels like a homecoming for me and the family to come back.”

So how did Jamie come to end up at Somerset in the first place?

“I came to join Somerset somewhat by chance,” he explained. “It was a call from Dermot Reeve, who contacted me out of the blue back in 1999 and asked me if I’d be interested in coming to England to play for Somerset. At the same time I had someone from another club asking me to come and play in England, but I chose Somerset based on the great Aussie heritage and the legends that I knew who had played here, so it felt too good a chance to turn down.

“I was 29 at the time and it felt like something that I could do to hopefully push my international aspirations, so I came here as what was going to be a one-year experiment and it turned into six wonderful years.

“I came here as a bit of an unknown so it was important that I got off to a good start. The first time I walked out to bat at Taunton I scored a century against a strong Yorkshire attack and we went onto win the game, which was really important for my tenure here.

“I just knew from my first few weeks of being here that I was going to enjoy my time and I was going to like cricket here in England. I loved every minute of the six years I was here.

“Marcus was still a young man when I first came, but you could see the talent and I just loved being around when that story was evolving, so credit to him. He had enormous talent and I just loved watching him develop into what was an amazing but all too brief international batsman.

“Andy Caddick, who is big hearted and a good human, was also in the team and he could bowl! I just knew that when we had Caddy in the side we generally won because in the championship he did the job of two bowlers. He bowled a mountain of overs and generally got multiple wickets and always had the opposition under pressure. He was an amazing bowler.”

What were some of the most memorable matches during Jamie’s time at Somerset?

“The best games I played in during my time here were the three semi-finals at Taunton which got us into those finals.

“In 1999 we beat Surrey here which was awesome because they were virtually a Test team, but then we didn’t get it done and it was a disappointing final at Lord’s because we didn’t really get going. However, we were playing a Gloucestershire team who were also at the start of their own journey where they just won everything.

“Then to make up for that in 2001 it was really satisfying and to get there. We had an amazing semi-final against Warwickshire, which was just one of the more phenomenal games of cricket.

“The following year we probably played the best final when we made 280 against Yorkshire but then Matthew Elliott took us apart. That was on the back of a semi-final here against Kent when we got 340 odd and bowled Kent out.

“They are amazing memories and all of those campaigns were extraordinary in their own right.

“My first year 1999 was my only year of the full championship after which we went into divisions. In 2001 we were runners up to Yorkshire, who won it comfortably but we were always competitive and stayed in the top division during my time.

“Somerset has got a good championship record, just sadly they have never won it. Since I’ve left, watching some of those tormented campaigns from afar has been really really tough. I know we have done everything apart from winning it.”

I asked Jamie to select some of the high points during his Somerset years.

“The 2001 C&G Final was almost the perfect game for us. From the moment I woke up and the sun was shining to the moment we lifted the trophy it was a day that almost went perfectly, and they are the sorts you want as a captain.

“The three C&G  semi finals that got us through to the finals in 1999, 2001 and 2002 were each just amazing games of cricket- they ebbed and flowed and were quite extraordinary.

“One game in the championship that sticks in my mind, was the match against Durham here when we set them over 400 and Gareth Breese got 160 batting at seven or eight. When I bumped into Richard Johnson the other day we joked about that and couldn’t understand how we couldn’t defend 450! I remember facing some criticism afterwards saying that we should have batted them out of the game.

“It was a funny ground here at Taunton, coming in fresh I quickly identified that winning championship matches here would be really hard, because they were really good pitches and you were going to use a lot of resources to win games. Subconsciously, that placed a lot of onus onto the short form game.

“We had a pretty simple game plan here which was as soon as spinners bowl, you have got to hit the ball out of the ground because the boundaries are short and you can’t afford to let them settle.

“Over the time I was here, Somerset recruited very well and brought in some great resources to support that so we could play really aggressive dynamic one-day cricket, which wasn’t unfamiliar at that time, but was certainly a trait of ours.

“Dermot Reeve was an amazing influence here. He was such a positive ‘can do’ sort of guy who brought an amazing energy to the Club. I used to love talking cricket with Dermot and he used to make me think, and it was part of his charm that made me come here in the first place.

“Kevin Shine, who took over when Dermot left, is a great mate to this day.

“I still follow the fortunes of Somerset very closely and now I’m back working at Lord’s and living in this country I hope to get back down here occasionally and watch some games.

“I’m working for  the MCC at Lord’s where Guy Lavender is in the CEO and he is based in the next office to me.

“It’s funny how the world plays out and both Helen and myself love England, so it’s great to be here and I feel really blessed to have inherited the role that I have got. Lord’s is a pretty special place to cricket people all over the world.”

Jamie added: “Everyday I look out across Lord’s where I lifted the C&G Trophy with Somerset back in 2001, so it’s a very special place for me too.”

Jamie Cox was speaking with highly regarded local journalist, Richard Walsh

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