As part of the planned improvements to the North East corner of the Cooper Associates County Ground, the demolition of what is now known as the Old Scoreboard is now under way.
The scoreboard was first opened back in 1981, and the keys were officially handed over to Colin Atkinson, who was then President of SCCC by John Smerdon, the Managing Director of Saab (GB) Ltd, during the match between Somerset and Australia in May 1981. Brian Rose was the captain of Somerset on that occasion while Kim Hughes was his opposite number with the Aussies. Saab (GB) Ltd provided the Club with the new scoreboard as part of the County Ground’s re-development programme at that time.
Colin Atkinson receives the keys to the Scoreboard in 1981.
Originally the scoreboard was operated entirely by hand and required at least two people to run it, and probably three for a one day game, but in more recent years has been digitalized and operated electronically from the scorers box.
In the 35 years it was in operation the old scoreboard has been used to record a number of record breaking and historic scores.
The first big innings it witnessed was in May 1985 when Viv Richards set a then record individual highest First Class score for the County. His 322 was made in less than a day against Warwickshire and came off just 258 balls. This remarkable total included 42 fours and eight sixes and eclipsed the previous record of 310 which was set by Harold Gimblett back in 1948. The next huge score at Taunton was three years later when Worcestershire batsman Graeme Hick made 405 not out, an innings that started on May 5th and finished the next day.
On June 27th 2006 Cameron White hit 116 not out and Justin Langer made 90 as Somerset recorded the highest ever T20 score at the time of 250 for three against Gloucestershire.
The following year Justin Langer made his second triple century for the Club as Somerset amassed 850 for seven declared against Middlesex, their highest ever total at Taunton. Somerset’s Australian skipper who had made 342 in his previous innings for the County in 2006, ended up with 315. In more recent years Chris Gayle hit an unbeaten 150 in 2015 against Kent in the NatWest T20 Blast.
Everybody will have their own personal memories of what they consider is the best innings they have seen at Taunton since the old scoreboard was opened and that is the beauty of the game.
The Old Scoreboard is making way for a new state of the art board which will be in place in time for the start of the new season.