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The last time we went to Guildford

Somerset travel to Guildford to take on Surrey in Division One of the Specsavers County Championship this week.

Ahead of the match we look back to the last time that we played a First Class at the venue.

That game took place in 2006 and will forever be remembered for the innings played by Justin Langer.

The date was July 19th and the venue for the County Championship Division Two match between Surrey and Somerset was Woodbridge Road, Guildford.

The weather was perfect and set fair for at least the first three days of the game and the normally tranquil home ground of Guildford Cricket Club was transformed into a venue fit to stage a First Class game.

The marquees had been erected along one side of the ground and boundary boards put in place, whilst temporary terraced seating had been built alongside Woodbridge Road.  All of this made the compact ground look a picture.

When Somerset won the toss, skipper Cameron White had no hesitation in opting to bat first on what looked to be an excellent batting strip.

35 year old Langer, playing only his second game for Somerset in a five week stay in the West Country, opened the innings alongside Neil Edwards and they had put on 227 before 22 year old Edwards was out for 77.

Langer then put on 162 with Arul Suppiah before he perished for 71 with the total on 389.  By the close of play on the opening day Somerset had moved onto 442 for two with Matt Wood not out 31 and Langer unbeaten on 234.

The second morning was once again bright and sunny and the good sized crowd had been swollen by a number of Somerset fans who had travelled up to the match sensing that something special was about to happen.  They were not to be disappointed as Langer continued on his relentless way, playing his favourite shots and taking full advantage of anything that was slightly short or just wide.

Langer’s innings was a lesson in concentration and so it continued. Wood went for 54 with the total on 504, but the Aussie maestro just carried on taking his runs wherever he could.

White was run out for 14 but the Western Australian then added 100 for the fifth wicket with John Francis who contributed 41. Langer and Carl Gazzard then took the total onto 671 before the Australian played a shot off spinner Ian Salisbury that landed in the hands of Neil Saker at long on.

That was it and Langer was on his way back to the pavilion acknowledging the crowd, but not before he had set a new Somerset record for the most First Class runs in an innings. His 342 beat the previous record of 322 made by Viv Richards against Warwickshire at Taunton in 1985.

In all Langer batted for 10 hours and 18 minutes, facing 416 deliveries and hit 43 fours and two sixes.

Eventually, Somerset declared on 688 for eight in reply to which Surrey made 717 all out which included five for 148 from White, his first five-wicket haul in Championship cricket. Rikki Clarke top scored for the home side with 214 whilst Mark Ramprakash added 167. Rain then fell in the afternoon of the final day and brought the game to a premature end.

It was certainly a match to remember, especially if you were a Somerset fan!

Talking after his innings Justin Langer said: “My greatest challenge was to master concentration. That’s what I was thrilled about. It’s a matter of putting all your attention to the next ball bowled to you and trying not to get too far ahead of yourself. Whether that’s two balls ahead or looking at the scoreboard or worrying about something in the past. If you do that, you take a lot of pressure off yourself. It also allows you to keep your energy levels up because you’re only concentrating for a very short period at a time.”

Images courtesy of Steve Porter and Richard Spiller

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