If you ask where Carl Gazzard is now, the answer is pretty easy because he is working for Cooper Associates just a six hit across the road from the County Ground, doing the only job he has done since he left Somerset at the end of 2009.
Carl was born in Penzance and played cricket for his native Cornwall through the age groups before making his Minor County debut when he was just 16 years old.
He joined the recently formed Somerset Academy in 1998 working under Julian Wyatt and at the end of his two year stint the young wicket-keeper, who was also a more than useful right handed batsman, was offered a professional contract by the Club.
The Cornishman made his First Class debut for Somerset against West Indies A in 2002 and one of his first victims was when he caught Chris Gayle off the bowling of Mat Bulbeck. At that time Rob Turner was the long established number one gloveman so the youngster knew that if he was going to force his way into the side he had to offer something a bit different. “I had a few years of learning my trade,” he said. “But in the winter of 2002 I went over to play in Australia and came back a much better player and I started to open the batting in one-day cricket.
“We’d been finding it hard to get away at the start of the innings in one-day cricket so I started to open and in one of my first games against Notts I got 50 odd off 35 balls, basically as a pinch hitter and we didn’t have anyone doing that. It was something different and what I had to do if I wanted to replace Rob in the one-day game.”
In 2004 Carl Gazzard scored 157 against Derbyshire in the Totesport League to further emphasize his value to the side. “Once I got into the team I could take that success into my wicket-keeping and bring some energy into our one-day outfit,” he said. “That helped to transform us from steady performers into a into an energetic dynamic team. Rob then got injured early in 2005 before the Bath Festival and I was in and once I got there I stayed. Brian Rose joined the club as Director of Cricket and his vision was to have a young team and I fitted the mould.”
2005 was a big year for both Somerset and Carl as he explains: “We had a purple patch that season when first of all we beat the star studded Australians. Brian put out a lot of youngsters along with Graeme Smith and Sanath Jayasuriya, which helped. Yes, we were a young side, but our success wasn’t by chance. We knew what we were doing, but Brian gave us the opportunity to go and show what we could do. That set the benchmark for the rest of the season. I hit the winning runs in that game and I’d like to say that it was a brilliant cover drive but I don’t think it was! What I recall most was the noise of the crowd. There were such a lot of people here at the County Ground, I don’t think I will ever forget that.
“That season we had a great run in the Twenty20 Cup, which was masterminded by Mark Garaway who was the head coach. He had signed Graeme Smith, who was a young and dynamic player to skipper the side. We reached the last four of the competition and found ourselves facing an experienced Leicestershire side in the semi-final. We thought that we were all but dead in that game but it turned out to be one of those occasions when everything that could go right did.
“I can remember it like yesterday because we were struggling in the middle overs and they had some good bowlers like Darren Maddy and Claude Henderson who took the pace of the ball. However, they brought Otis Gibson back on near the end which was good for us because it brought the pace back onto the ball and we cashed in. I had a great over which meant that we set a good target which then gave us a head start. We had a bit of momentum and we had a good plan. I think we were the best in the country at that time because we had Keith Parsons and Ian Blackwell who could bowl the middle overs and then had the likes of Richard Johnson and Charl Langeveldt to come back on. At the end of that semi I was named as the Man of the Match and of course we went onto win the Twenty20 Cup by beating Lancashire in the final.
“At the time we were so engrossed in the day that you can hardly take it in, but it was the biggest day of my life, helping Somerset to win a trophy. There were other highlights in my career but I guess the one game for me has to be the semi final T20 win in 2005 which led to us winning the Cup.”
He added: “Do I miss it? Yes. I miss the adrenalin rush I used to get from playing and winning, but because I only work just over the road and my bosses at Cooper Associates are all cricket mad, I get to see some of the cricket, and I also get time to spend with my family in the evenings and at the weekends!”
Main image courtesy of Getty Images