|Somerset County Cricket Club|
|One-day name:||Somerset Sabres|
|Overseas player(s):|| Murali Kartik
Cameron White (T20)
Kieron Pollard (T20)
|at Old Trafford|
|FP Trophy wins:||3|
|Twenty20 Cup wins:||1|
Somerset County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Somerset. Its limited overs team is called the Somerset Sabres. The club has its headquarters at the County Ground, Taunton. First-class games are also played at the Recreation Ground, Bath. Former grounds include Yeovil, Weston-super-Mare, Frome, Glastonbury, Wells and the Imperial Tobacco Ground in south Bristol.
In the seventeenth century, the related sport of Stow-Ball, or Stob-Ball was being played in north Somerset, as in neighbouring Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, as well as parts of Dorset. This sport most likely used either the base of a tree or its remaining stump as its wicket, as both 'stow' and 'stob' are dialect words for 'stump'. However, 'stow' could also refer to a frame used to support crawling tunnels in mines such as those lead mines in north Somerset, providing another possibility for the wicket. The ball was made of a leather case, stuffed with boiled quills, and was four inches in diameter, roughly the same size as a modern softball, while the bats, known as 'staves' were shaped similarly to a field hockey stick and typically made of withy or willow.
The earliest confirmed reference to cricket in Somerset is a match on 13 July 1751 that was played in memory of the late Frederick, Prince of Wales who was a noted patron of the sport. The first officially organised club to be recognised in Somerset were Lansdown Cricket Club, formed in 1825, although a Bath cricket club seems to have preceded it with a similar collection of enthusiasts from around 1817–1824. With a limited number of other organised clubs to play, fixtures were few and far apart in the founding years, with matches being played against Clifton, Sidmouth and Teignmouth. Lansdown placed Somerset in the cricketing world, and played a number of matches against 'England XI' in various forms.
In 1865, the first attempt at a county side was made with the formation of Yeovil and County Cricket Club. They performed poorly in their opening matches against local club sides, and on one occasion, even lost three players to their opposition the day before the match was scheduled to begin. In spite of these problems, they did play a 'county' fixture, against the Gentlemen of Devon; the match was abandoned due to rain. The first recorded occasion of a Gentlemen of Somerset side playing comes five years previously however, when a Somerset side travelled down to Culm Vale to take on the Gentlemen of Devon, this match also resulting in a draw.
The formation of Somerset County Cricket Club was decided after the playing of one such match between the Gentlemen of Somerset and the Gentlemen of Devon at Sidmouth in Devon. Having played a two-day match, which the Somerset team won by eight wickets, the Gentlemen of Somerset and their friends held a meeting and resolved the Somerset should have its own county cricket club. Somerset is the only one of the present first-class counties in English cricket whose county cricket club was founded outside the boundaries of the traditional county. After their resolution, the gentlemen continued playing games under the name Gentlemen of Somerset, but their fixtures became more regular; rather than occasional games against the Gentlemen of Devon, they played host to teams from Dorset and Devon in 1876, and in 1877 visited Dorset, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Wiltshire in addition to their trip to Devon.
The following 1878 season, two matches were played by a Somerset team; a two-day match against Hertfordshire played at St Albans finished in a draw, while Worcestershire were beaten by an innings and 47 runs later in the month at Bath. In 1879, Somerset played nine matches, albeit one of them against a Wells team. During these early seasons, Somerset were never far from insolvency. An initial letter sent out after the formation of the club had only managed to raise £70 17s, while gate receipts in the first season raised the club £1 15s 8d. Despite this, fixtures continued to be arranged, and the amateurs kept on playing; bringing their own kit and paying for their own tickets for travel to away matches.
There are alternative versions of when Somerset's first first-class match took place, and matches in 1879 and 1881 are central to the statistics of W. G. Grace – see the article on Variations in first-class cricket statistics. If those games are discounted, then Somerset CCC played its initial (undisputed) first-class match against Lancashire CCC at Old Trafford on 8, 9 and 10 June 1882 and joined the (then unofficial) County Championship. This first-class status lasted for only four seasons: after the 1885 season, Somerset failed to arrange sufficient fixtures with the other first-class teams to be accorded first-class status.
That remained the case until 1891. But in 1890, following a successful recruitment policy at universities by the club's first full-time secretary, Henry Murray-Anderdon, Somerset played 13 non-first-class games, some of them against counties that were first-class, and won 12 of them, tying the 13th with Middlesex CCC. For the 1891 season, Somerset was then able to arrange 12 matches against first-class counties and so force its way back into the Championship, which was now an official competition.
In Somerset's second season, 1892, they finished third, but it was to be 66 years before they finished as high again. Bottom of the table 12 times (plus one shared wooden spoon), they enjoyed over many decades a reputation for cheerful inconsistency. Until the Second World War, the team regularly comprised a number of more or less talented amateurs and just a handful of professionals.
Famous names from the pre-First World War period included the England players Sammy Woods, Lionel Palairet and Len Braund; the fast bowler Tom Richardson also played for the county once after his retirement from Surrey. In 1908, Woods persuaded the England rugby union international John Daniell to become captain with the team at a low ebb, and Daniell stayed, mostly playing as captain and often acting as secretary too, for almost 20 years.
In the first season of the County Championship after the First World War, 1919, Somerset finished fifth in the table, the highest since 1892. But that was the highest position in the inter-war years, and mostly the side finished at or below halfway down the table, though there were no more bottom places in this period.
The team continued to be a mix of a few highly talented amateurs, a few good professionals, with the side often made up with amateur players who appeared in only a few games. Among the amateurs, the west Somerset farmer Jack White, who succeeded Daniell as captain in 1927, played for England as an off-spinning all-rounder and also captained the Test side in Australia in 1928-29. The briefest Test match career of them all was "enjoyed" by another amateur, Jack MacBryan, whose only game for England was the rain-ruined match against the South Africans in 1924, in which he neither batted nor bowled. Of the professionals, fleeting international careers were enjoyed by the hard-hitting batsman Harold Gimblett, whose entry into first-class cricket was the stuff of legends, and by Arthur Wellard, fast bowler and a mighty smiter of sixes.
In postwar cricket, the happy-go-lucky Somerset attitude was no longer sustainable, and the side finished bottom of the Championship for four consecutive seasons from 1952. With the strong possibility of going out of business, drastic change was inevitable. Somerset recruited heavily from other countries, taking Colin McCool and Bill Alley from Australia, and from other counties. In 1958, under the captaincy of the first professional cricketer to captain the team, Maurice Tremlett, the side again finished third, and this was repeated in 1963 and 1966 under different captains, Harold Stephenson and Colin Atkinson, who would later become headmaster at Millfield School.
There was a further dip in fortunes towards the end of the 1960s, but, though County Championship success continued to elude the county, Somerset finally found in the 1970s the makings of a successful one-day team under the combative, inspirational captaincy of Yorkshireman Brian Close. A trio of world class players, Viv Richards, Joel 'Big Bird' Garner and the England all-rounder Ian Botham made the team for the first time in its long history a formidable trophy winning proposition.
The real success came after Close had retired. Under the captaincy of left-handed opener Brian Rose, Somerset won their first ever silverware by taking the Gillette Cup and the Sunday League in 1979. In the same 1979 season, Somerset's newfound ruthless streak provoked controversy in the Benson & Hedges Cup limited-overs competition when Rose declared the Somerset innings closed in the match against Worcestershire, in an attempt to safeguard passage through to the quarter-final on run rate: the county was subsequently disqualified from the competition at a special meeting of the Test and County Cricket Board. Rose also captained the side to the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1981 and 1982, and the renamed NatWest Trophy (formerly the Gillette Cup) in 1983.
Controversy returned to Somerset in the mid-1980s. With the successful side ageing, new captain Peter Roebuck led the move to make changes and the overseas stars Viv Richards and Joel Garner were sacked, replaced by the New Zealander Martin Crowe. Ian Botham resigned from Somerset in protest and moved to Worcestershire.
Success has been elusive in recent years, although New Zealand born Andy Caddick and opener Marcus Trescothick have proved major pillars of the England Test team and overseas stars such as Jamie Cox have given sterling service for the club, resulting in their appearance in the NatWest Trophy in 1999 and the C & G Trophy final in 2001 and 2002, winning in 2001 over Leicestershire. In 2001, the team finished second in the first division of the County Championship, its highest-ever placing. But true to its contrary traditions, the county was relegated to the second division at the end of the following season.
Under the guidance of Director of Cricket Brian Rose, the team has adopted a youth policy, which Rose accepts will lead to a succession of good and bad results in the short term. To balance the youth policy, for two seasons the club was led by high profile overseas stars Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith to enable coaching of the young group of players. In July 2005, as perhaps a portent of better times to come, the county was the surprise winner of the third Twenty20 Cup, beating Lancashire in the final at The Oval.
The 2006 season was up and down in results, but in June 2006 Rose announced the signing for six weeks of the Australian cricket team opening batsman Justin Langer, while countryman Dan Cullen was on duty with Australia A. Langer responded by hitting the highest score in the county's first-class history, but without him the team struggled in both short and long versions of the game, failed to repeat their Twenty20 success and languished at or near the bottom of both County Championship and Pro40 second division tables.
In 2007 Langer, having returned to the team, was named captain. Cameron White was the other overseas player. Somerset's season began brightly, including a county-record 850/7 declared against Middlesex in their first Championship match, but a few weeks later Somerset were on the wrong end of a huge total when they conceded 801/8 declared to Derbyshire. However, they recovered well from this set-back and achieved promotion, returning to Division One of the Championship for the first time since 2002, after beating Essex at Chelmsford with five sessions to spare. They were also promoted to Division One of the Pro40 league.
While 2008 was an improved season, 2009 brought marginally less success. Langer announced his retirement from all forms of cricket at the end of the 2009 season, making the 2009 Champions League Twenty20 in India his last competitive competition for the club.
Players with international caps are listed in bold.
|No.||Name||Nat||Birth date||Batting Style||Bowling Style||Notes|
|2||Marcus Trescothick||25 December 1975||Left-handed||Right arm medium pace||Club captain|
|25||James Hildreth||9 September 1984||Right-handed||Right arm medium-fast|
|??||Robin Lett||23 December 1986||Right-handed||Right arm medium-fast|
|??||Richard Timms||9 September 1984||Right-handed||Right arm fast-medium|
|??||Nick Compton||26 June 1983||Right-handed||Right arm off break|
|7||Peter Trego||12 June 1981||Right-handed||Right arm medium pace|
|8||Alfonso Thomas||9 February 1977||Right-handed||Right arm fast-medium||Kolpak registration|
|13||Ben Phillips||30 September 1974||Right-handed||Right arm fast-medium|
|23||Arul Suppiah||30 August 1983||Right-handed||Slow left-arm orthodox|
|58||Zander de Bruyn||8 September 1975||Right-handed||Right arm fast-medium||Kolpak registration|
|??||Kieron Pollard[note 1]||12 May 1987||Right-handed||Right arm medium pace||Overseas player (T20 only)|
|??||Cameron White[note 2]||18 August 1983||Right-handed||Right arm legbreak googly||Overseas player (T20 only)|
|9||Craig Kieswetter||28 November 1987||Right-handed||—|
|15||Jos Buttler||8 September 1990||Right-handed||—|
|1||Charl Willoughby||3 December 1974||Left-handed||Left arm fast-medium||Kolpak registration|
|18||David Stiff||20 October 1984||Right-handed||Right arm fast|
|24||Max Waller||3 March 1988||Right-handed||Right arm leg break|
|26||Mark Turner||23 October 1984||Right-handed||Right arm medium-fast|
|29||Michael Munday||22 October 1984||Right-handed||Right arm leg break|
|??||Murali Kartik||9 November 1976||Left-handed||Slow left-arm orthodox||Overseas player|
Most first-class runs for Somerset
Qualification - 15000 runs
Highest Partnership for each wicket
|1st||346||Herbie Hewett & Lionel Palairet||Yorkshire||County Ground, Taunton||1892|
|2nd||290||Jack MacBryan & Dar Lyon||Derbyshire||Town Ground, Burton-on-Trent||1924|
|3rd||319||Peter Roebuck & Martin Crowe||Leicestershire||County Ground, Taunton||1984|
|4th||310||Peter Denning & Ian Botham||Gloucestershire||County Ground, Taunton||1980|
|5th||320||John Francis & Ian Blackwell||Durham UCCE||County Ground, Taunton||2005|
|6th||265||Bill Alley & Ken Palmer||Northamptonshire||County Ground, Northampton||1961|
|7th||279||Richard Harden & Graham Rose||Sussex||County Ground, Taunton||1997|
|8th=||172||Viv Richards & Ian Botham||Leicestershire||Grace Road||1983|
|8th=||172||Adrian Pierson & Steffan Jones||New Zealanders||County Ground, Taunton||1999|
|9th=||183||Chris Greetham & Harold Stephenson||Leicestershire||Clarence Park, Weston-super-Mare||1963|
|9th=||183||Chris Tavaré & Neil Mallender||Sussex||County Ground, Hove||1990|
|10th||163||Ian Blackwell & Nixon McLean||Derbyshire||County Ground, Taunton||2003|
Most first-class wickets for Somerset
Qualification - 1000 wickets
Most List A runs for Somerset
Qualification - 5000 runs
|1st||241||Sunil Gavaskar & Brian Rose||Kent||St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury||1980|
|2nd||302||Marcus Trescothick & Craig Kieswetter||Gloucestershire||County Ground, Taunton||2008|
|3rd||269*||Peter Roebuck & Martin Crowe||Hampshire||County Ground, Southampton||1987|
|4th||189||Chris Tavare & Graham Rose||Devon||Recreation Ground, Torquay||1990|
|5th||179||Viv Richards & Ian Botham||Hampshire||County Ground, Taunton||1981|
|6th||123||Jamie Cox & Aaron Laraman||Derbyshire||County Ground, Derby||2004|
|7th||151*||Ian Blackwell & Robert Turner||Sussex||County Ground, Taunton||2005|
|8th||95*||Dennis Breakwell & Keith Jennings||Nottinghamshire||Trent Bridge, Nottingham||1976|
|9th||75||Brian Langford & David Doughty||Glamorgan||Cardiff Arms Park||1963|
|10th||50||Derek Taylor & Hallam Moseley||Essex||County Ground, Chelmsford||1981|
Most List A wickets for Somerset
Qualification - 300 wickets
Qualification - 500 runs
|1st||132*||Marcus Trescothick & Craig Kieswetter||Glamorgan||County Ground, Taunton||2009|
|2nd||186||Justin Langer & Cameron White||Gloucestershire||County Ground, Taunton||2006|
|3rd||120||Matthew Wood & Carl Gazzard||Worcestershire||County Ground, Taunton||2005|
|4th||76||Cameron White & Keith Parsons||Worcestershire||New Road, Worcester||2006|
|5th||101*||Cameron White & James Hildreth||Worcestershire||New Road, Worcester||2006|
|6th||77||James Hildreth & Wes Durston||Diamond Eagles||Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad||2009|
|7th||67||Omari Banks & Ben Phillips||Northamptonshire||County Ground, Northampton||2008|
|8th||50||James Hildreth & Alfonso Thomas||Deccan Chargers||Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad||2009|
|9th||31||Wes Durston & Steffan Jones||Gloucestershire||County Ground, Taunton||2003|
|10th||15||John Francis & Thos Hunt||Warwickshire||Edgbaston||2004|
Qualification - 20 wickets