Vic Marks looks back at the last time England came to town

There are now just two weeks to go before our IT20 between England and South Africa.

Ahead of the game we have been looking back at when England last played here in Taunton and speaking to some of the main protagonists from that encounter back in the 1983 World Cup.

Somerset’s very own Vic Marks was England’s leading wicket taker that day against Sri Lanka and rather unsurprisingly he has fond memories of the occasion.

“I remember practicing here before the day of the game and the ground looked fantastic,” he said. “The Club had made every effort to make everything right. The net wickets were brilliant, the bowling machine they produced was fantastic and the ground itself looked an absolute picture.

“It was fantastic because there was an extra buzz around the town and so much effort had been put in to staging the game. Myself and Ian (Botham) were extremely proud that we were going to play in Taunton for England. It was a special occasion to wear your England colours on your home ground in front of a jam packed crowd. We were both thrilled to bits. England coming to Somerset was something special. My parents were able to come and watch and were sat to the left of the pavilion and it was a great day out. It was absolutely heaving that day and it was boisterous in a quite friendly way. One of the benefits of playing at Taunton for me was that I was able to go home! Although we were technically on tour I’m certain that I stayed at home.”

What does Vic remember most about the match? “I remember it being a pretty flat surface,” he recalls. “Our openers Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare put on 49 and these were men who by modern standards certainly took their time. The real surprise is that Chris seemed to score quicker that day!

“The game at Taunton went very much according to plan apart from a slightly slow start.  Gower was imperious, Lamb was excellent batting at four and it was a very good start. As far as I remember I was huddled in the back of the pavilion just letting them get on with it, but then Gatting was run out for seven and Botham was run out for 0. At least Ian got to face one ball. I can’t quite remember whether it was his fault or Gower’s. Knowing Ian I suspect that he thought it was Gower’s. As I say, things were going well at 174 for two but a little flurry of wickets left us on 194 for five but then Ian Gould hung around with Gower for a while to make sure that we got what was in those days a mammoth score. It was 60 overs in those days too don’t forget. I was run out too that day which must have been a selfless sacrifice! We were certainly happy with our score that day.  Back then if you got 333 you would expect to win the game.

“In those days you played six matches in the group stages and therefore played each team in your group twice. We won five out of six and felt like we were cruising at the top of our group but when it came to the semi-final we played badly at Old Trafford and lost to India. Throughout the qualifying stage though we played really well.”

Having set Sri Lanka 334 to win England made some early breakthroughs courtesy of Graham Dilley as Vic recalls: “Graham Dilley was really quite quick but I don’t think he was too popular with groundsmen around the country because he had a long dragging final stride! He was our quickest bowler and we had quite a good contrast in our attack.  Dilley was quick, Willis wasn’t as quick as he used to be but was certainly more than steady, Beefy who could do anything and then there was Paul Allott who sadly for him went for a few that day, but it was that sort of pitch.

“It was such a true pitch that Dilley’s extra pace was helpful and he got the ball to swing a little bit as well. When he clicked he was a very dangerous bowler. It didn’t always click but on that day we needed his early wickets because it was a flat pitch and at certain points the Sri Lankans were racing along. We needed extra pace and he provided that and Sri Lanka were always struggling a little bit after those early wickets. He certainly helped me because they were always behind the run rate and had to hit out a bit. I think that three or four of my wickets that day were caught in the old trap at deep mid-wicket as they tried to clear these immense boundaries at Taunton.

Is Vic looking forward to the iT20 on June 23rd? “Taunton is a special place and there’s always a tremendous atmosphere because the crowd is so close to you. I have no doubt that it will be a terrific spectacle.”

ICC World Cup image courtesy of Getty Images

Back to News

Next MatchMiddlesex V Somerset

01/07/2022 18:15 - Lord's