When Somerset lifted the Twenty20 Cup

Somerset will be bidding for Vitality Blast glory tomorrow (Saturday) when we travel to Edgbaston for Finals Day.

The Club won the Twenty20 Cup back in 2005 at the Oval and everyone involved with Somerset is hoping that the wait to lift silverware will come to an end this weekend.

Ahead of this year’s Finals Day we thought we would take a look back at that successful campaign of 2005.

Somerset’s journey to the Finals Day back then was far from easy and the format was still in its infancy having only been introduced two years previously.

In 2005 Somerset’s first fixture was at Cardiff where we tied the game but were beaten because we lost more wickets- a rule that has since changed. The very next day Somerset returned to Taunton to beat Worcestershire, thanks to 94 from Matt Wood and some tight bowling from James Hildreth, who regularly turned his arm over back then.

The next match was also at Taunton, where the Wurzels appeared on the back of an articulated truck to provide the entertainment before Somerset gained their revenge over Glamorgan.

Somerset then travelled to play Northamptonshire at Wantage Road in a match reduced to 12 overs a side. The hosts were limited to 95 for six and Somerset also struggled before Keith Parsons saw his side to victory with a boundary off the penultimate ball.

The game at Bristol against Gloucestershire was abandoned because of the rain before Somerset lost two games in a row, the first in the return against Northants, despite a fine century from their inspirational captain Graeme Smith, followed by defeat at Edgbaston against Warwickshire.

Going into the final group match Somerset had to beat local rivals Gloucestershire at a packed County Ground. Batting first the home side scored 228 for five and then duly bowled the visitors out for 133. Gareth Andrew took four for 22 while Parsons finished with three for 12.

In the quarter-final Somerset returned to face Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. In reply to the home sides 154 for eight, Matt Wood hit 58 at the top of the order and Keith Parsons hit another boundary off the penultimate ball to see his side through to their first ever T20 Finals Day.

Somerset fans made their way to the Oval in droves and were by far the noisiest and most supportive group on the day.

Somerset faced reigning champions Leicestershire in the second semi-final. The Foxes side included former Somerset ‘keeper Neil Burns, and two other players who would subsequently join the county, Charl Willoughby and Jim Allenby.

Batting first Somerset looked to be in trouble at 124 for six, before Wes Durston and Carl Gazzard moved the score to 157 for nine.

In reply Leicestershire looked well placed at 90 for two in the 12th over before they slipped to 124 for six and eventually finished four runs short to give Somerset their place in the final.

Following this game rain fell heavily and the start time for the final was delayed. When the game finally got underway at 8.15pm it was reduced to a 16-overs per side match.

Batting first, Lancashire’s star studded side were restricted to 114 for eight, Richard Johnson claiming three for 22 and Andy Caddick two for 21.

When Somerset batted Graeme Smith seemed determined to win the match on his own in what was to be his final appearance for the county. He opened the innings and remained unbeaten on 64 as Somerset reached 118 for three in 14.1 overs.

In the end it was left to a 20-year-old James Hildreth to hit the winning runs.

James played in all 11 T20 matches in 2005, scoring 203 runs and claiming 10 wickets. He will be the only surviving player from that memorable day when Somerset play at Edgbaston tomorrow (Saturday).

Recalling that special day James said: “Lancashire had an almost all star XI at the time and we went in to the game as underdogs. That was a tag that seemed to suit our style of play. We thrived off being the underdog. It was a great tournament and I just can’t believe that it was that long ago. To hit the winning runs with Graeme Smith at the other end is something that will always live long in the memory.”

“Everyone in the squad played their part that year, whether it was Keith Parsons or Wes Durston or Carl Gazzard. Everyone held their hand up and performed at some point and Graeme was an inspirational captain. He was brilliant to have around and made a big difference to us coming together as a team.”

Like James, Ian Blackwell believes that Somerset had been underestimated going into Finals Day. “I felt that we went in to Finals Day as the underdogs”, he said. “I certainly don’t think that anyone thought we’d beat Lancashire, and I think that worked in our favour. There were so many tight games in the competition and we kept just getting over the line.  It was almost as if our name was on the trophy. It just seemed as though it was our year even in the final when Johnno [Richard Johnson] dropped a relatively simple catch off Mal Loye, but then caught him not long after.  You couldn’t write that sort of stuff!”

Andy Caddick also remembers that early drop. “The final started off in strange fashion for me,” he said. “In my first over Mal Loye smacked me straight down deep square legs throat where Richard Johnson decided to drop the ball! Thankfully three balls later he did exactly the same thing and this time Mr Johnson caught it!

“For Somerset to have done so well in that competition that year was unprecedented and just goes to show the quality of the players playing. There was also a big enjoyment factor and a huge will to win. We scraped through in the semi-final, and once we got to the final it was just do or die!  We just threw caution to the wind and gave it 100%. We played out of our skins in that final and thoroughly deserved to win it. It was an up and down sort of tournament but it was very enjoyable.”

Keith Parsons also played a pivotal role in Somerset’s success that year. What does he remember about the Final? “It was rain delayed but we started off really well despite dropping a catch early on,” he said. “We recovered well, held our catches after that and fortunately didn’t have many to chase. I remember Graeme Smith saying at half time that we had it in the bag and then he went and did the rest.

“We prepared really well for the competition.  We had a couple of sessions out on the field with the bowling machines where we tried to hit certain targets and things like that.  I think they call that range hitting these days! With the bowling yorkers were the key, so the death bowlers worked on that. To win the Twenty20 Cup at that stage was a really big achievement for us. It’s always nice to win a big competition!”

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