Where are they now? Rob Coombs
Last summer Rob Coombes returned to Taunton for the first time since 1986 when he attended the Former Players Reunion Dinner.
How did the tall orthodox left-arm spinner, who was born in Barnet in 1959, come to find himself involved with Somerset in the first place?
“I was just a club player who happened to be in the right place at the right time playing at my absolute peak,” he explained. “It also happened to be at a time when things weren’t going too well for Somerset.
“I first got involved when Ian Botham took over the captaincy and he invited Exeter University, who were the UAU Champions at that time, to play a pre-season game.
“Botham had been away on tour and he wanted to get to know the squad, so he played in the game. I was playing for Exeter University and we ran Somerset quite close as it turned out.
“I bowled one ball to Botham. He charged down the wicket to try to hit me out of the ground and completely missed it. The wicket-keeper failed to gather it cleanly but it bounced off his pads and onto the stumps and Botham was out stumped!
“From there Somerset invited me to play in a few Second XI games. That year Somerset got knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Gillette Cup and the Club decided to give the youngsters an opportunity. That’s when people like Jonathan Atkinson and myself got a chance at the Weston Festival. I just played as an amateur.
“Things went really well for me and I took five for 58 on my debut against Middlesex in a one innings match. At the end of that season I’d played half a dozen games and I was given a contract for the following year.
“However, I had my finals to finish at Exeter for my teaching qualification, so I joined up after them in June. Things seemed to be tougher when I had a contract and wasn’t playing for fun.
“That was in 1986 when there were other things going on behind the scenes that I didn’t know about. Towards the end of that season Peter Roebuck told me that I wasn’t going to be required the following year and suggested that I should go and become a teacher.”
What did Rob do after he left in 1986.
“I’ve been at the same primary school for 32 years and retire from there at the end of the summer term.
“I got very involved with my local club (Bournemouth) and ran the Colts there for a number of years. I then became Chairman of the club.
“During my time at Bournemouth we took our Under 15s to the National Finals and our First XI won the National Club T20 competition.
“When I retire, I intend to come back and spend some more time at Taunton watching Somerset playing cricket.”
Is there one memory in particular that Rob has from his time with Somerset?
“There were so many strange things that happened to me during my time at Somerset because it was all very unexpected. I remember playing against Gloucestershire at Bristol and we were struggling to save the follow on, and Courtney Walsh was bowling.
“I went into bat at number 11 and Walsh had already claimed eight of the nine wickets to fall, so he was really trying. Mark Davis was at the other end and batting pretty well and I borrowed a helmet off Richard Harden, which was slightly too large, so it wobbled a bit on me.
“We started to build a partnership and Walsh bowled to me with four slips and a gully. I edged one that went between them and went to the boundary. The next ball I edged for four again and then next one I also edged to the boundary.
“He steamed in for the next which I thought was going to be a bouncer, I saw the ball pitch and ducked, but it didn’t get up and hit me on the helmet which came off and rolled onto the stumps.”
Did Rob enjoy his return to the Cooper Associates County Ground last summer?
“It was lovely to be there on a really beautiful day,” he said. “It was great to meet up again with a few of the people that I played alongside as well as some supporters. Some even asked me to sign a few autographs!
“The ground has changed hugely since I was there and the only thing left from my day is the Colin Atkinson Pavilion, which was the main players pavilion then. Everything else is new, but it still felt lovely to be back!”
Between 1985 and 1986, Rob played in 13 First Class matches for Somerset in which he scored 32 runs at an average of 5.33 with a best of 18 against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 1986. He claimed 32 wickets at 34.75 with a best of five for 58 against Middlesex at Weston-super-Mare on his debut.Back to News