With our Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final against Warwickshire now just one day away, we are looking back at some of our most memorable last four matches since the introduction of the one-day game back in 1963.
1983 – Captain Beefy to the Rescue
On the way to lifting the 60 over NatWest Trophy in 1983 Somerset were taken all the way to the wire by Middlesex in their semi-final at Lord’s.
Somerset Captain Ian Botham won the toss and elected to put the hosts in to bat. It seemed like a good decision as the Somerset skipper took a catch off the bowling of Joel Garner to remove Graham Barlow for eight with the score on 16. Clive Radley was then bowled by Vic Marks to reduce Middlesex to 55 for two.
This brought Mike Gatting to the crease and the home side’s captain set about the Somerset attack as he and Wilfred Slack took Middlesex to 117. Gatting (49) and Slack (57) were both dismissed by Nigel Popplewell whilst Keith Tomlins (58) was dispatched by another Botham catch off Garner.
At the close of their innings Middlesex had reached 222 for nine.
Garner was the pick of the Somerset bowlers as he claimed three for 23 whilst there was also three wickets for Popplewell who claimed what at the time were his best List A figures of three for 34.
The Somerset reply got off to the worst possible start as Jeremy Lloyds, Peter Roebuck, Peter Denning, Viv Richards and Philip Slocombe all went cheaply and the visitors found themselves on 52 for five.
The situation required an innings that would go down in Somerset folklore and that is just what happened. Botham came to the wicket and began to dispatch the ball to all areas of the ground. The captain and Popplewell took Somerset to 156 before the latter was dismissed. A useful 21 from Marks helped steer Somerset towards their required total whilst Botham remained unbeaten on a magnificent 96.
At the end of Somerset’s 60 overs we had scored 222 for eight, exactly the same total as Middlesex. However, man of the match Botham and his team-mates celebrated making it through to the final due to having lost one less wicket!
It doesn’t get much closer than that!
2001 – Dutch Downs Warwickshire
Somerset ended a long trophy drought in 2001 by winning the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy but on the way to the final Somerset fans were treated to one of the most dramatic matches that Taunton has seen in recent years.
Monday’s opponents Warwickshire were the visitors to the West Country for that semi-final fifteen years ago for a game that was played out in front of a packed house and the television cameras.
Somerset skipper Jamie Cox won the toss and decided to field but Warwickshire made a strong start.
Openers Nick Knight and Mark Wagh put on 101 for the first wicket before Wagh was caught and bowled by Keith Parsons as the Somerset bowlers began to fight back. Dougie Brown, Knight and David Hemp all fell in quick succession as the visitors found themselves on 129 for four.
Somerset were then frustrated by a partnership between Michael Powell (39) and Trevor Penney (39) as Warwickshire finished on 228 for eight from their 50 overs. Richard Johnson was the most successful bowler for the home side with three for 42 whilst both Parsons and Mike Burns claimed two wickets each.
The Somerset reply got off to a terrible start as Marcus Trescothick, Peter Bowler and Mike Burns all found themselves back in the players pavilion with Somerset struggling on six for three. Parsons and Cox then took the score to 62 before Parsons was dismissed for 31. A rapid 30 from Ian Blackwell helped to move Somerset past the 100 mark but he was caught and bowled by Neil Smith with Somerset on 102. Cox then fell for 47 to leave the hosts on 130 for six and the Somerset faithful feared the worst.
However, Keith Dutch and Rob Turner then shared a 100 run partnership to take Somerset to what had looked like an unlikely victory. Man of the match Dutch made his highest score in List A cricket by helping himself to a stunning 61 from just 54 balls and he was well supported by Turner whose 42 proved vital.
Looking back on that incredible day Turner recently said: “When I went in to bat we were 102 for five and Jamie Cox was still there so I thought all I had to do was stay there and he would hopefully see us home. However, shortly afterwards he was stumped by Keith Piper and suddenly there was panic! Then in walked ‘Dutchy’ who was in his bubble and after sneaking a couple between ‘keeper and first slip and riding his luck, I thought I’d just let him get on with it. Bit by bit the runs came and we ended up seeing the game home which was quite incredible.”
Somerset supporters will be hoping for more of the same against Warwickshire tomorrow!