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Vic Marks on England's return to Somerset

In 2017 the England team returned to play a competitive fixture in Taunton for the first time since 1983.

Somerset’s Vic Marks played in that game in the 80s and was back at the Cooper Associates County Ground for the IT20 between England and South Africa in his role as a respected journalist.

How did the two matches compare?

We asked Vic to write a piece for this website and here is what he had to say:

After a gap of 34 years England’s cricketers returned to the West country for an international match and it was another grand occasion. (Actually I got “corrected” by someone when I mentioned this in The Guardian on the grounds that England have played quite frequently at Bristol. I was too busy to respond to those obviously living east of Gordano that the West country does not, has never, and, one trusts, never will start at Bristol.)

Just about everything for the T20 international against South Africa was perfect, as was the case in 1983 when England played Sri Lanka in the World Cup in a sixty over contest. I say “just about” because this time the result may not have pleased the majority of the crowd and afterwards Eoin Morgan could not quite stop himself mentioning how dark it was when England were batting at the end of a stuttering run-chase. A shame that he won the toss and fielded then.  It was also a pity that Jos Buttler could not decorate the day with one of his specials – but then Ian Botham was run out for a duck back in 1983.

Otherwise, the event was a terrific advert for playing big games of cricket at Taunton. The pitch was true; the stands, which stayed up, were full (indeed, they could have been filled three times over); the cider was dispensed in just about the right quantities. Everyone had a good time. That is so much easier to achieve when the spectators can walk up from the train station or stroll in from the middle of the town, qualities rarely considered when stadia were built from scratch.

It was no great surprise to me that it should all go so smoothly. At the end of 2016 and the beginning of the 2017 season I kept bumping into Sally Donoghue (SCCC Chief Operating Officer) and Spencer Bishop (SCCC Media Manager) at England matches around the country. My curiosity at their presence was soon satisfied. They were casting an eye over every facet of hosting an England game. No stone would be left unturned; they took their notes, made their plans along with Guy Lavender and executed them brilliantly, though not even Sally is able to control the weather – as far as I know.

In 1983 I spent much of the day in the England dressing room – until it was time to take the field. This time, at the other end of the ground, I was in the press box and the commentary box. I suspect the press corps of 2017 were rather more pampered than those of 1983.

Of course, I have now learned that it does not take much to keep the gentle men and women of the press content. The homework had been done. The WIFI worked as never before. While the normal press box in the new Somerset Pavilion was given over to Sky TV, the scribes were given a palatial room with an unsurpassed view one floor below; likewise the BBC commentary box was light and airy and nowhere near as precarious as the garden shed on top of the Old Pavilion, where one false move might leave you in the graveyard either literally or metaphorically – or both. The food was lovely and plentiful while Richard Walsh (SCCC Journalist) busied himself, welcoming rare additions to Taunton’s press corps with his own brand of charm and humour. Job done!

Surely England must return to Taunton again, hopefully not after the passage of another 34 years.

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