Saltford – First recorded Cricket Match in Somerset 1751

The village of Saltford recorded the first cricket match in Somerset as seen in this 1995 charity / testimonial programme.

Memories of Brian Close

Contributed by Mark Windsor

He made his England debut in 1949 at the age of 18 & played his last international game 27 years later at the age of 45 in 1976. He played 22 games during his international career which span over 4 different decades scoring 887 runs at the average of 25.34 with a top score of 70. In addition he has picked up 18 wickets at the average of 29.55.

Even though his international career didn’t have any significant no’s, in the county scenes he was a Yorkshire legend scoring 33000 plus first class runs in addition to 3458 list A runs. Further he has taken 1171 first class plus 65 list A wickets while captaining Yorkshire & playing for Somerset. His thought process as a captain was “I’ve always believed that the team is more important than the individual”.

He also captained the England side in a few occasions as well. It was during the 1963 West Indies tour of England which was the only time he got to play a 5 match series where went on to show his courageous & fighting attitude when he almost took England to a victory at Lord’s. That too against the fearsome West Indies bowling duo Hall & Griffith. During an era where no helmets & not much protective gear was available, he took the attack to the West Indies during the last day chasing a target of 234. With no other batsmen scoring more than 20, he made his career best of 70 & when the game was finally ended in a draw England were on 228/9 just 6 runs short of the target. During this innings he got hit several times which the image below shows well.

13 years later he faced the visitors & ended up with similar bruises after facing the likes of Michael Holding, Andy Roberts & Wayne Daniel. This time around he was 45 years old & he was called in to fill the already shorthanded England side. Well past his physical prime he answered the call in an heroic manner by facing the chin music from West Indies pacers spending almost close to three hours while scoring 20 runs before being dismissed. That’s a type of courage we hardly see anymore from an international cricketer.

Ultimately it was his last international game as well since he was dropped from the next game. On his 92nd birth anniversary here’s remembering former England all rounder late great Brian Close.

Ian, Viv and Joel

The end of an era at Somerset CCC – It is believed that this is the last occasion these three giants of the game turned out for the county, namely the Sunday League game against Derbyshire CCC in 1986 – all three made significant contributions to a three wicket victory.

And from a spectator “It was their last game – I was there, but with my Olympus Trip never managed a group shot of the trio. Botham was happy enough to join us for a post-match beer, and a couple of days later they turned out once more in a Garner Benefit Match on the same ground.”

And a further comment from Mike Bailey – I remember going to end of another Joel Garner benefit game after school. I remember Viv scored 140 odd and Botham plonked quite a few in the Tone on the way to a century. Garner was in at the end and smashed 14* of three balls (446 iirc). I got Michael Holding’s autograph and Joel Garner’s.

Rexel Family Fun Day – 11th October 2022

“Stadium tours at Somerset County Cricket Club with families enjoying not only a superb look behind the scenes with our expert tour guide, but a chance to explore the best cricket museum in the country – Somerset Cricket Museum as well, and see some of the best historical cricketing items in the world including the bat used by Lord Ian Botham in the 1981 Ashes series. If you’re in the Taunton area it’s absolutely a museum you’ve got to visit.”

“Just one of the many highlights on our Rexel Family Fun Day yesterday”.

Snippet and Video courtesy of Sean Owens – Rexel.

Sir Viv Richards – Remarks v Glamorgan

A famous story is told of Sir Richards’ days, playing with Lord Botham, at Somerset when Glamorgan seamer Greg Thomas beat Viv thrice in three balls. Thomas, being cheeky, reiterated a description of the ball to Viv: “THAT’S CALLED THE BALL – IT’S RED, IT’S ROUND, AND WEIGHS ABOUT FIVE OUNCES; YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO HIT IT, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING”.

Viv was fired up. He came down the track and smashed the next ball out of the park, some say it it went into the sea. He leisurely strolled down the pitch and threw a reply to Thomas: “GREG, YOU KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, NOW GO FIND IT.

Joel Garner – Memories

Contributed by Mark Windsor

JOEL GARNER: 🟥I had great times at Somerset. The money was incidental: we had fun. I remember playing against Sylvester Clarke at Bath and he bowled two bouncers at me. I said, “Boy, you’re not going to get me out. This game’s going to finish and there’ll be other games when I’m bowling to you. Don’t you bowl these bouncers at me.” He came off and Roger Knight came on and I told him that if Sylvester Clarke couldn’t get me out then he wasn’t going to get me out either. I hit him for three sixes over long-on and we won the game. This was a one-day game in the middle of a four-day match – so we had two days left of the four-day match when this had finished. Sylvester was expecting and waiting for a bouncer. It never came. Later in the year, we had a return game at Surrey. I knew Sylvester had forgotten. I said to Sam Cook, the umpire, “watch this”, and I bowled a slower-ball bouncer and he gloved it behind. He stood and waited for the decision and Sam just said to him, “What are you waiting for?” That’s how we played.🟥

Note Big birds words… money was incidental..
Cricket was played with a passion..for the sport…

Contributed by and with acknowledgement to Mark Windsor

Derbyshire v Somerset 3rd August 1977

On This Day 3rd August 1977 – 11,000 spectators crammed into the Ilkeston ground for this Gillette Cup quarter final between Derbyshire and @Somerset – 5 Test cricketers on either side – a game which Somerset won.

Ian Botham bowling v Derbyshire August 1977 -Picture courtesy of David Griffin

Four Test cricketers on either side. Somerset: Ian Botham, Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Brian Close; Derbyshire: Eddie Barlow, Mike Hendrick, Geoff Miller, Bob Taylor. Brian Rose (Dec 1977) & John Wright (Feb 1978) are yet to make their first Test appearance.

Borrington and Wright batting for Derbyshire and Ian Botham bowling, Viv Richards and Brian Close at slip with Joel Garner at long leg. Serious cricket!

And a comment from David Jenkins ”I was there, had the pleasure of driving the Chairman Len Creed to the match. What an innings from Rosie and a great win. Fred Swabroke a left arm dismissed Viv much to.the disappointment of the Somerset fans. Great days back then.”

and one from Mike Kerswell ”I remember it as the first time I saw Joel Garner playing for Somerset.”q

and this memory from a Derbyshire supporter ”I did my paper round first and was in the ground at 7am. Sat in front of the Somerset players in the pavilion which is where I got Viv’s autograph. Bought Closey’s benefit brochure and got Botham’s autograph at the close of play…15 years old, 45 years ago, and it feels like yesterday! ….Botham had just made his Test debut and his wife was pregnant. We queued for his autograph at the end and there must have been several hundred wanting his signature – Kathy marshalled the queue to make sure we only got one signature each!!

The Scorecard can be found here

Lancashire v Somerset 11th July 2022

With James Rew making his first team debut and Lewis Goldsworthy making his maiden first class century it was also pointed out in an article by Paul Edwards that the two young players set a fifth-wicket partnership record of 145 for Somerset against Lancashire, thereby overtaking that set by Sammy Woods and Henry Martyn at Taunton in 1905.

Tetton Park – former home of Somerset batsman Mervyn Herbert

The Tetton Park estate, Kingston St Mary is the former home of career diplomat and Somerset batsman Mervyn Herbert.

Herbert scored 854 runs in 42 matches, top scoring with a score of 78 at a batting average of 12.02 in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Marvin Herbert was born in 1882 at Highclere Castle, which was used as the set of Downton Abbey.

If you know of any place in Somerset connected to the history of Somerset cricket, you are more than welcome to let us know

Ian Botham on his 22nd birthday

A distinctly underwhelmed Ian Botham wad presented with a cake on his 22nd birthday by England tour manager Ken Barrington. Botham was at the airport ready to leave for that winter’s tour of Pakistan and New Zealand

Derbyshire v Somerset August 1977

Ten Test cricketers played in this match watched by 11,000 spectators in searing heat. Somerset won by 59 runs, Brian Rose 128, Joel Garner 5/30


That year Somerset played Middlesex at Lords in the final and it rained 3 days and they played a 15 over game late on the Friday lost toss batted first and lost game . Brian Close again feeling everything was against Somerset in his last year as captain.

A response to the article on Bill Andrews by Mike Tarr from his great nephew, Gary Andrews.

I just saw your memory of Bill Andrews, who was my Great Uncle, by Mr. Mike Tarr, and thought I would drop you a line.

I have heard many stories about him and read his book about being a Professional Cricketer.

He played Cricket with me in about 1958 in Highbridge, I think. It was in his back garden and I was a 5 year old. He told me that if I wanted to play cricket I would have to face his type of bowling. He gave me his bat that was over the Fire Place and practiced with me. I was scared stiff and it felt real when he bowled. Then he put the bat away and got some bottles in his wall and started shooting at them with a pellet gun. 

I did not realise that he was showing me an important lesson in life and even at 5 years of age I remember thinking what a great bloke. My Dad never did anything like that with me?

I never saw him play but, my Dad told me about him and I read his book. I heard in latter life that he was influential in Ian Botham’s development at Millfield School

As a Cricketer, not as a Scholar, Ahhhhhh

Is that true, or just wishful thinking. I remember he had huge hands and was a big guy.

We lived in Wiltshire so I did not see him too often. His brother was my Grandad who moved to Wiltshire to work in the Railways.

Gary later added: His book was interesting because, I think, Cricket was a bit of a Gentleman’s game and he was a rough diamond.

He had to fight to become a Professional Cricketer and then the Second World War probably stopped him from playing for England. There was another cricketer at Somerset who was very good but my Uncle Bill clashed with due to his background. This may be sour grapes, but my dad told me he was a tough cookie and could be argumentative and confrontational.

Ian Botham had a strong character, maybe Uncle Bill instilled that into him Ahhh.

John Challen 1884-99

John Challen was a classic schoomaster amateur who popularised the game, playing most of his 52 matches for Somerset in the summer holidays when the professionals had to step to one side. He scored 1656 runs at 19.71 as well as taking 16 wickets

He played between 1884 and 1899 but never more than 11 times in any season. A good footballer, he turned out four times for the Wales national side.

Middlesex v Somerset June 1928

A lovely shot of Somerset’s Wally Luckes running out Middlesex’s Tom Enthoven at Lord’s in June 1928. Luckes was Somerset’s keeper either side of WW2, playing 365 times for them between 1924 and 1949.

On this day 26th March 1980

On this day in 1980…

Cricketing legend Ian Botham made his debut as a footballer for Scunthorpe United, coming on as a sub in the Division 4 match at Bournemouth.

Being back at the CACG

Words echoed around the stand ‘I can hardly believe it!’, ‘ Great to be back’, ‘It’s been a long time!’, ‘It’s nice to be here again’. There’s a buzz around the ground again and it is palpable.

10:30 and the Toss is being held – Tom Abell and James Vince shake hands – Hampshire win the toss and elect to have a bowl.

Josh Davey, Lewis Gregory, Jack Brooks and Marchand de Langer are warming up in front of us after the traditional game of football, the anticipation of play is starting to rise amongst the assembled members.

11:00 Play Commences – Cricket and the Somerset Supporters are back at the CACG.

Hampshire 1895

Hampshire were admitted to the County Championship for the first time in 1895. Just like this year, their first match of the season was against Somerset (although unlike 2022 it was at Taunton). Here is the 1895 side, with Russell Bencraft (centre) captain.

Derbyshire v Somerset 1947

The scorecard from one of the most remarkable Derbyshire CCC games at the Queen’s Park in 1947. All over in a day, Derbyshire win by an innings, George Pope 13-50.

Photo and stats courtesy of @dgriffinpix

September 2019 v Essex

I was lucky enough to be at the Cooper Associates County Ground for the last game of the 2019 season. Memories of Tom Abell scoring 45, Roelof van der Merwe 60 and, on that pulsating final day, Jack Leach’s 5 wickets  fleetingly giving Somerset an outside chance of beating both Essex and the weather and as a consequence clinching the first-ever Championship for my county. 

A bittersweet day in so many ways. Not just the sight of Essex lifting the trophy on our hallowed turf but a day that belonged in so many ways to Marcus Trescothick. Yes, I was there when Marcus joined the slip cordon for the final overs with it seemed, every Somerset fielder clustered around the bat and I was there when Tom Abell realised it was to no avail and offered Essex the draw. I stood there, drained of emotion, politely clapping the 2019 champions.

As I slowly left the County Ground that evening I said to the gentleman in the ticket office ‘See you next Year’ to which he replied ‘Winter Well’. Prophetic? Such memories, such poignant moments.