It’s that time of the week where we take a look through the Somerset CCC archives and shine a light on matches or individuals from the Club’s great past.
Today we turn the clock back to July 2002 when a West Indies ‘A’ team which was full of future stars visited Taunton for a three-day Tourist match.
Not only did Somerset supporters get a glimpse of what was to come from Chris Gayle, they also witnessed Peter Trego’s maiden First Class century.
We sat down with Tregs this week to look back on that match.
Peter had made his First Class debut for the Club in 2000, so where was his career going in 2002?
“I’d had a stop-start beginning to my Somerset First Class career,” he said. “I always felt that I’d done relatively well when I’d been called up to the First Team, but for whatever reason I’d get dropped again. That meant that there was a lot of in and out, but when the Tourist games come around it gives the opportunity to rest a couple of players and give some others a chance.
“To come into that game and to play against the West Indies ‘A’, who had some pretty decent names in their line up was massively exciting for a young player.”
What are Peter’s main recollections of the match?
“One of the things I remember most about that game was getting an insight into what was going to happen in Chris Gayle’s future,” he said. “When I was bowling at him, he gave me a bit of a tour around Taunton. He’s a big man and he dispatched me over cover a couple of times. You could sense that he was the real deal.
“I also remember turning up on the practice day and seeing Sulieman Benn stride out to warm up. He was about six foot eight and we were all thinking: ‘Oh my God, this guy’s going to bowl absolute thunderbolts!’ All the lads were watching him warm up with very large eyes. When he delivered his first ball of left-arm spin there was a massive sigh of relief around the camp.
“One of the biggest things for me during that game was what Chris Gayle said to me during the second innings when I was starting to hit my stride. He was slowly strutting from first slip to first slip between overs, as he tended to do even then, and I’d just hit Reon King through the covers off the back foot. He passed me in the middle of the wicket and said: ‘Hey, Trego! You bat like one of us!’ I took that as a huge compliment!
The match saw Neil Edwards, Arul Suppiah, Wes Durston and Carl Gazzard make their First Class debuts, whilst the team was captained by Keith Parsons.
“Keith is a hero of Taunton and a great man to have around,” said Tregs. “He would have had a great deal of pride in leading the team out and I like to think that we did him proud over the course of those three days.”
Needing an unlikely 454 to win the game, Somerset were 73 for two when Peter came out to bat. The man from Weston-super-Mare then played a sensational innings that saw him make 140 from 185 balls. His knock contained 19 fours and two sixes and took Somerset to the brink of what would have been a remarkable victory.
“It was a bit of a breakthrough innings for me and it was a great day,” he said. “Pieran Holloway, who was my roommate at the start of my career and a great man to have around, laid a decent platform for us. With such a large total to chase the pressure was off a little bit when I came to the crease. That allowed me to play my own game and I seem to remember taking a bit of a liking to Sulieman Benn. I ran down the wicket to him a couple of times and bopped him over the pavilion. That got me going and the pitch was pretty flat, so I was able to throw my hands at the ball and I had one of those days where everything comes off.
“At the end of the last day I was thinking that I should have stayed in and seen the game home, but cricket always has a twist in the tail.
“To get that hundred was just great. Every hundred I’ve scored across all formats is cherished, but obviously the first one is very memorable. That hundred and the one I scored against South Africa are probably the two best knocks I’ve ever played. Whenever you score runs against a touring team, you’re effectively pitting yourself against International players. That always fizzes you up a little bit and gets you going and it’s always nice to give the tourists a rough time before they play England.
“I still have the bat that I made that hundred with to this day. I actually had that bat signed by Sir Ian Botham, so it’s one of my most prized possessions.”
The remarkable match went right down to the wire. Somerset were one run away from victory with just two balls left when Gayle bowled to Graham Rose.
Peter picks up the story: “We were all on the balcony watching the last over. We needed one run to win in the closing stages of the game. Bizarrely, Graham Rose chose to ramp the penultimate ball and that wasn’t even a thing back then. He sort of gloved it to Benn. Rosey was such an amazing player for Somerset and I lost count of the number of times I saw him smack it back over the bowlers head, or through the covers or through the leg side but for some reason he decided to ramp, which I don’t think had ever been seen before.
“It was a very peculiar end to the game, but we were proud of what we achieved over the three days. It would have been nice to score the winning runs though.”
The dramatic match finished in a tie, but Somerset Members got an early glimpse of what Peter had to offer.
He went on to score over 16,700 runs and take 543 wickets for the County that he grew up supporting.
Ground images courtesy of Getty Images