Index of Articles

Century on a Broken Ankle – James Hildreth – Somerset Steel

Article contributed by Paul Baker aka Farmer White.

James Hildreth has retired from professional cricket. His career will one day, no doubt, make a classic cricket book. But now, as Somerset supporters everywhere are remembering one of the last great single-team domestic careers here, as a special tribute, are one person’s personal memories of the greatest moment of his Somerset career. A personal appreciation of more of James Hildreth’s great innings for Somerset appears in the preceding post to this one. This is an extract from that article. There is a link to the full article below.

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Somerset v Worcestershire July 1977 B.Close v B. D’Oliveira

County Championship. Somerset v Worcestershire. 23rd, 25th and 26th July 1977. Taunton.  Contributed by Paul Baker.

When Marcus Trescothick opened the Championship batting for Somerset at the age of 43 in 2019 it brought back memories of two other emeritus England batsmen playing in a Championship match at Taunton. It was in a different age and the nature of Championship cricket was as different as the age. Matches were played over three days instead of four, there was no promotion or relegation and so no external pressure on most matches. Declarations to set targets where hard cricket could not force a result were part of the cricketing landscape. Fitness regimes were an undreamt-of thing of the future and players playing into their forties was not an uncommon occurrence.

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Gillette Cup Semi-Final. Kent v Somerset. 14th August 1974. Canterbury.

Gillette Cup Semi-Final. Kent v Somerset. 14th August 1974. Canterbury, contributed by Paul Baker (aka Farmer White); Also see this article by Richard Walsh.

Toss. Kent. Elected to field.

The 1974 Gillette Cup semi-final at Canterbury is burned into my memory and vivid images abound there. I re-run them often. The impact it made perhaps reflects the importance of semi-finals, and for that matter quarter-finals, in the two one-day cups of the time. They were major set-piece events which bestrode the domestic cricketing landscape like Glastonbury Tor, Dunkery Beacon and the Wellington Monument bestride the landscape of Somerset.

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A 1949 Northern League film – including a clip of Bill Alley

Contributed by Trevor Incles

A video entitled Cricketers All ( 1949 ) which features, albeit briefly, Bill Alley, who played a prominent rôle for Somerset in the late fifties / early sixties, has been brought to our attention. This appears to be a cine film which was digitally enhanced and reformatted by Salford University and can be viewed free of charge on Vimeo and Youtube.

Cricketers All (1949) (Bill is seen in the opening introduction and approximately 11:30 mins into the film.

Trevor writes “The film gives a brief insight into post war cricket in the Lancashire League and the profusion of world class players who entertained the often vast crowds who attended those matches. More importantly, I feel, it is the social commentary which puts into context cricket as it was played in those pre multi media days ! Incidentally,  I find the narration extremely funny as it is given by a Lancastrian” trying to speak posh” and ends up talking like Captain Mainwaring !

I confess to self interest in that one of the opening batsman for Rawtenstall v Bacup was Tom Incles, my father.  Lancashire League cricket provided a springboard for factory and mill workers, such as my dad, to become local celebrities and improve their lot. Following the formation of the Northern League in 1951/52, my family moved to Blackpool where Dad used to open the innings with firstly  Hanif Mohammed, then Rohan Kanhai and ultimately Bill Alley. Tom and Bill established a number of batting records which stood for a long time. “

The Wikipedia link to Bill Alley’s playing career is to be seen here

 Apparently (and without verification), an obituary to Bill Alley stated that during his time as the professional at Blackpool CC he was the most highly paid cricketer in the world ! Not only did he have a generous basic salary, he also benefited from cash collections from the throngs of holidaying spectators, whenever a 50 was scored or 5 wickets taken (as the film demonstrates) – an all-rounder’s dream ! He was also granted a testimonial match during  the course of every season. Can any other player who has represented Somerset equal or indeed surpass that record.

Trevor continues “However, the point of this tale is that my father was offered a Sales Representative job with the firm of one of Bill’s uncles in Haslingden, where, incidentally,  my grandad took me to watch their new young pro play – a chap by the name of Clive Lloyd !

The upshot of all this is that my father established his own successful company on the south coast along similar lines to those of Bill’s uncle,  which he ran until his retirement. Were it not for the involvement of Bill Alley  in this story, it is most likely that our family would not have had the opportunities with which we were presented and which we grasped with both hands !  Thank you, Bill !”

Obituary – Vince Lindo. Contributed by Richard Walsh

Vince Lindo who played one game for Somerset in 1963 sadly passed away on January 6th 2022 at the age of 86.

Cleveland Vincent Lindo was a fast bowler and hard hitting batsman who was born in St Elizabeth Jamaica on 6th June 1936. He arrived in England in 1959 with his sights set on becoming a first-class cricketer.

Within a short while of arriving Vince responded to an advert in the newspaper saying that Nottinghamshire were looking for a fast bowler. He duly made his way to Trent Bridge where after appearing in a few friendlies he played in the two day game against Pakistani Eaglets.

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Obituary – Michael Hill. Contributed by Richard Walsh.

Both Somerset County Cricket Club and the Somerset Cricket Museum are mourning the sad loss of Michael Hill who had a long association with both the club and  museum and who passed away on December 27th 2022 surrounded by his family aged 88.

Michael was born at Stockland Lovell, near Bridgwater  in 1934 and had his first experience of cricket when his mother Jacky would take him to watch his father Froude playing cricket for the local Fiddington team.

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Obituary – Terry Willetts. Contributed by Richard Walsh.

West Country cricket is mourning the loss of Terry Willetts who played cricket for both Somerset and Cornwall who sadly passed away on October 24th at the age of 82.

Terry was born in Birmingham and on leaving school joined Avery’s who were known world wide for their weighing scales.

He was a talented all round sportsman excelling at both football and cricket. He appeared for Bristol Rovers Reserves, but turned idown the chance of a contract playing instead as a part timer with both Minehead and Bath City FC.

Terry played cricket for Weston super Mare where his talents were quickly recognised by Bill Andrews who recommended him to  Somerset, who offered him a contract which he duly signed.

He made his debut for Somerset Second XI against Gloucestershire in June 1960 at Clarence Park in Weston. Terry made two further appearances for the Second XI that year and played once more in 1961.

Continue reading “Obituary – Terry Willetts. Contributed by Richard Walsh.”

Harold Gimblett’s Hundred by John Arlott finds its way back home! – an Article by Richard Walsh

Bicknoller was his village, Harold Gimblett was his name

Farming was his working day, but cricket was his game.

When he was but twenty and first played for Somerset

He played the mighty innings that we remember yet.

Stogumber is the village where Jack White used to live;

But for cricketers in Somerset, that’s the name they give

To the fierce cross-batted stroke they will use for evermore,

Swinging it right off the stumps and past long leg for four…….

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Kidmore End Cricket Club and its unique relationship with Somerset County Cricket Club

The distinction of leading the first Kidmore End cricket team on to a field here fell to Henry Hamilton Palairet Esquire, who then lived at Kidmore House and was a member of an old West of England family renowned for its sportsmen. Fortunately for the cricket public of the country, he extended his love of cricket untiringly to the tuition of his two sons, Lionel and Richard, as soon as they could hold a bat. Both became great cricketers and all round sportsmen. Both played for Somerset and, to this day, Lionel still holds (with H. T. Hewitt) the record opening wicket partnership for that county, 346 against Yorkshire at Taunton in 1892.

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The ‘League of Nations’ and the Battle of the Shilling Ticket’

Article contributed by Paul Baker aka Farmer White

My father was a musician and a good one by the account of those who knew about such things. The consequence was that his entire sense of timing was applied to his music. He had none left for anything else. As a result we were late everywhere we went and for everything we did. Cricket was not spared. Not even Somerset cricket.

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James Hildreth – a personal appreciation by Richard Walsh

James Hildreth has been a permanent fixture near the top of the Somerset batting order for almost 20 years, but sadly he has played his last innings for the Cidermen.

Even though he wasn’t born in the county the fans have loved Hildy from the very first time he pulled on a Somerset shirt back in 2002 since when he has provided us with so many entertaining innings, but sadly there will be no more after he pulled up with a hamstring injury which has brought a premature end to his retirement season.

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21 years ago Somerset lifted C & G Trophy at Lord’s on that never to be forgotten day

Twenty one years ago on September 1st 2001, it seemed like the whole of Somerset were making their ways  up the M5 and along the M4 to Lord’s Cricket Ground to watch the Cidermen take on Leicestershire in the final of the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire Trophy.

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A Tale of two Tons (and other memories) by Pete Aird.

On Wednesday 10th April 2022, two Somerset players made remarkable centuries. One was scored for Somerset by Ben Green in the RLODC tie against Durham at Taunton, the other, the first ever in ‘The Hundred’, by Will Smeed for Birmingham Phoenix in a match against Southern Brave at Edgbaston.

Both performances were exceptional and both worthy of the outpouring of praise that has followed but, for me at least, it is the innings of Ben Green that will last longest in the memory. This is not simply because Green’s 157 was the higher score, nor was it because, after a relatively slow start, his last hundred runs were made considerably quicker than Smeed’s total score of 100 not out. And neither is it down to the fact that I am somehow biased against Smeed because his runs were scored in a tournament that has already undermined county cricket and threatens to be part of changes that will bring about its’ complete demise.

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The successes of the Somerset Academy (the last 5-6 years) – Part 2

by Harry Everett (Journalist and Broadcaster)

I had the privilege to commentate on Sonny Baker’s first ball and first over in professional cricket, v Derbyshire in July 2021 and I cannot remember being more impressed by an 18-year-old on debut. I had already heard lots about this young man from Devon Dumplings teammates who played with him at Kings College and how he ripped through school cricket with in-swinging yorkers. Of course, many had seen the clip that went viral of him doing just that. But there is more to his game than that super strength. It is a travesty injury ceased him from showcasing his skills on the World Stage at the U19 World Cup alongside James Rew and George Thomas. But that 3-46 on debut is one I have watched back on the Somerset YouTube Channel multiple times since-time very well spent. Ned Leonard and Kasey Aldridge will both get further chances in the 2022 season, having been mostly used in the Royal London Cup (RLC) last summer.

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Somerset in Print by Martin Chandler

By Martin Chandler first published August 2021

Somerset County Cricket Club was formed in 1875, and first competed in the County Championship in 1891, the second summer of the formally organised competition. There have been a number of histories of the club, the first being Ron Roberts’ Sixty Years of Somerset Cricket, a comprehensive look back at the county’s years in the Championship, published in 1952.

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So good to be back – says Annie Chave

On the 26 September 2019 I stood bereft on a damp outfield watching Marcus Trescothick, cap in hand, leaving the field for the very last time.  An emotional crowd aware that a departing wave saw the end of a 26 year playing career that had embedded itself in the very fabric of the Somerset stands. Not only was there no fairy tale end but Somerset had to once again watch as the trophy, fingertip width from their grasp, was presented to a jubilant Essex and to add insult to injury it looked likely that the quality of the pitch would be called into question. This, I thought, was as difficult a day to stomach as I was likely to have to face in my Somerset support.  

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The successes of the Somerset Academy (the last 5-6 years) – Part 1.

By Harry Everett (Journalist and Broadcaster)

In a two-part article I will review the great success of some key names who have come through the Somerset Academy into the first team to play county cricket.

First team regulars for a while now: Ben Green, Tom Lammonby, Lewis Goldsworthy, George Bartlett, Max Waller, Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory, Jack Leach.

More recently: Ned Leonard, Kasey Aldridge and even the much-maligned-by-injury Ollie Sale. And the three current England U19 lads get a mention later on and those who have moved on: Nathan Gilchrist, Eddie Byrom, Dom Bess, Jamie Overton

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Bill Andrews (1908-1989)

by Mike Tarr (Artist and Museum Trustee)

This is a story about Bill Andrews, the great Somerset bowler (all-rounder?) who was the manager of the Somerset 2nd XI when I played for the club.

I was very fond of Bill and regret that through no fault of his own, he comes out of this on the wrong side of events, which I am sure may have happened a few times in his working days for Somerset CCC.

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The view from the commentary box 2021 (by A.Gibson)

By Anthony Gibson (Broadcaster, Writer and Museum Trustee)

Picture courtesy of Somerset CCC
Picture courtesy of Steve Tancock

When I look back on Somerset’s season from the commentary box of my mind, I see Tom Abell standing defiant, like the boy on the burning deck, amidst the wreckage of the top order batting; I see Craig Overton pounding in for over after relentless over; I see Ben Green leading out his young team in the One Day Cup; and I see all three of our captains explaining honestly, manfully and sometimes almost tearfully what, in the final analysis, went wrong.

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Personal Memories re Somerset County Cricket Club

Rosie Dyke: It would be impossible to pick just 1. My grandma bowling to me and my brother on the outfield, John Abrahams (Lancashire) asking me to look after his cricket jumper whilst he fielded on the boundary, sitting with my Mum as the new T20 format unfolded, years of tears and smiles and frustration and elation. Introducing the wonderful club and game to my little boy, the next generation. The 5th generation of our family to be a member.

Mike Unwin: We used to travel by train from Montacute and arrive at the County Ground just in time for play to start – Fare 1/0d Return

If I recollect the first match that I attended would have been in August 1956 v Northamptonshire.

The Forgotten Final – Somerset V Kent at Lord’s, September 1967

by Richard Walsh (Journalist and Museum Trustee)

Whenever people talk about Somerset’s success in one day cricket most refer to the period in the club’s history known as the `Glory Years, when between 1979 and 1983 the team won five one day trophies- four of which came in finals at Lord’s.

Many folk overlook the fact that Somerset had played in two finals before they enjoyed success – in 1978 when they lost to Sussex in what was the precursor to their run of success, and in 1967 when they lost to Kent. The match against Kent in 1967 is often the forgotten final because it was only the fifth year of the  Gillette Cup and one day cricket was very much still in its infancy.

This summer marks the 55th anniversary of the match against Kent and recently I was lucky enough to be able to spend time in the company of Somerset stalwarts Ken Palmer and Peter Robinson who were members of the team on that long ago early autumn day.

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My reflections on the 2022 Under 19 World Cup

By Chris Rew (Father of James Rew)

The 2022 Under 19 World Cup was eagerly anticipated after nearly two years of disruption to youth international cricket fixtures caused by the  pandemic. Luckily, the tournament, held in the West Indies in January / February 2022 was relatively unaffected by Covid, although several teams lost a few players to isolation and Canada had to leave the plate tournament early when nine of their squad tested positive. The ICC, however, did a magnificent job of organisation in testing circumstances.

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