Visit of Ken Palmer and his son, Gary, to the Somerset Cricket Museum

Article contributed by Trustee and Journalist, Richard Walsh.

Former Somerset all rounder Ken Palmer, who is still a very familiar face at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton, made a surprise visit to the Museum last month (March 2024), with his son Gary, also a former Somerset Cricketer (photographed with Museum Volunteer Patrick Draycott).

He may not have been born in Taunton, but Ken Palmer has certainly made it home since he first travelled west from his then home at Devizes, although he was born at Winchester in Hampshire where he initially went for a trial.

However it wasn’t to be and instead the highly talented youngster who was more of a batsmen, was signed on after he impressed Harry Parks who was the Somerset coach back in 1954.

Palmer played his early cricket for the Somerset Dragons and the Second XI at the same time as which he spent a lot of time working round the ground sweeping up the stands and picking up the grass mowings.

“That’s how it was back then. We had sandwiches and a bottle of milk for lunch,” he said.

Palmer made his first team debut against Middlesex at Bath in 1955 and gradually became established in the line up.

“After you had got the taste of first team cricket you didn’t want to go back playing for the Seconds anymore.”

However it was Maurice Tremlett, who went onto become Somerset’s first ever professional captain that taught Palmer the art of swing bowling and made him into the successful all rounder he became.

“Maurice Tremlett took me under his wing and helped me a great deal with my bowling. He taught me how to swing the ball out which I couldn’t do at that time.”

Once Ken had mastered that art there was no holding him back and he went onto become a genuine all rounder, which he underlined when in 1961, at the age of 24 he became Somerset first player since the Second World War to achieve the double of 1000 first class runs and 100 wickets in a season.

That summer Palmer played in 32 three day championship matches in which he scored 1036 runs at an average of 25.90, including a best of 125 not out, and bowled 965 overs, 248 of which were maidens and took 114 wickets at an average of 20.32, which included seven games in which he had five or more wicket hauls.

Between 1955 and 1969 Palmer appeared in 302 first class games for Somerset in which he scored over 7500 runs at an average of 20.73 with two centuries and took 837 wickets at a cost of 21.11 each.

His career best innings for Somerset was an unbeaten 125 against Northants at Wantage Road in 1961, while he best bowling figures were nine for 57 at Trent Bridge against Nottinghamshire in 1963- although Palmer reckons the best he bowled was against Lancashire at Old Trafford in 1963 when he took seven for 37, all of which were bowled!k

They don’t make them like Ken Palmer anymore that’s for sure!