General News | 17th September 2007

Looking back on Somerset v Notts

Club historian Peter Wynne-Thomas reflects on past meetings between Somerset and Notts at Taunton.

Although Notts have played on the County Ground at Taunton for well over a hundred years, the match of 1984 will surely be the one remembered above all others. The race for the Championship that summer developed into a straight fight between Notts and Essex. When the morning of the last matches dawned, Notts topped the table with 335 points, Essex had 331. Essex were away at Old Trafford, Notts travelled down to Taunton. Crucially, as it turned out, it rained in Taunton but not in Manchester. At the end of the first day’s play (Saturday), Somerset were six wickets down for 221 – about two hours playing time had been lost to the weather.

Meanwhile, Essex had dismissed Lancashire for 229 and had hit 155-1 in reply. On Sunday both sets of teams met in the John Player League, again at Taunton and Old Trafford. Ironically, as it transpired, Notts beat Somerset, but Essex lost to Lancashire.

So to Monday’s resumption of the Championship fixture. Essex totally crushed Lancashire: victory in two days with the maximum possible, 24 points. Notts had to win! Full bowling points were gained as Somerset were 274 all out. Clive Rice declared the Notts innings 52 runs behind, as soon as two batting points had been captured. Ian Botham was Somerset’s captain. He closed Somerset’s second innings setting Notts 297 off 60 overs. Rice responded with a quite brilliant innings of 98, no-one else managed 50 and Rice fell to a catch on the boundary with just 39 wanted off 21 deliveries.

Notts were four wickets in hand. Hemmings and Cooper came and went, just a single between them. Enter Mike Bore, who had played just one Championship innings all summer. He lost his partner French. The last man, Andy Pick arrived. The final over, from Booth, 14 required. Bore hit two fours, then a two. Three deliveries to go. Booth bowled a dot ball, then Bore drove the next ball away over the bowler’s head. A four would win the Championship. The substitute fielder, a certain Ollis, known as ‘Aulage’ – he worked for the family transport business - patrolled the outfield. He caught the ball and lost Notts the trophy.

That was September 1984; Notts went back to Taunton on a cold, miserable week in 1985. Kevin Cooper and Peter Such revenged the previous year’s defeat, by dismissing Somerset for 133, after each side had had an even first innings. Broad, Robinson and Randall then knocked off the 160 required for victory with no trouble – a Notts win by nine wickets, but a year too late.

Notts haven’t managed to win at Taunton in the Championship since then and suffered some grim defeats – an innings and 163 runs in 1992 (Somerset made 616), 111 runs in 1994 (Notts collapsed to Caddick in their first innings, but Jimmy Adams and Kevin Evans broke the Notts ninth wicket record by adding 170, though in a hopeless cause), and 10 wickets in 1996, when Graham Rose took 13 wickets at a cost of 88 runs.

The three other Taunton fixtures since 1985 were all rain ruined draws, the last one, in 1998, even more so, the two first innings were not completed.

Going back to the beginning of the match series, Notts didn’t make the best of starts due to a certain Ted Tyler, a left arm slow bowler, who took his wickets by flight rather than spin. He played in just three matches v Notts at Taunton and took 30 wickets at a cost of 314 runs. Somerset won the first game, in 1892, by an innings and 122 runs, the second in 1893 by an innings and 99 and drew the third in 1894. After that Notts didn’t renew the fixture until 1928. By now Tyler was long gone and Fred Barratt and Harold Larwood provided Notts with an innings victory. J.C.White the farmer, who captained Somerset and played for England batted well enough in 1929 and 1930 to give Somerset two draws. White made 192 & 23 and 91 & 64 - dare I mention that his coach at school had been Ted Tyler?

There was an exciting game in 1932. Notts were set 220 to win, but were all out for 206 – Ben Lilley, the Notts keeper took nine catches in that match. Notts did win in 1937. A.J.Turner, the Nottingham Journal reporter, begins his piece: “A Union Jack flapping lazily upside down above the roofs of the houses adjacent to the ground conveyed a distress signal to Somerset and feebly entwined itself round the flagpole when a dashing display of batting by C.R.Maxwell served widely differing purposes.”

Reporting was somewhat different in those days.  Maxwell, the amateur was preferred to Arthur Wheat, the professional, as Notts wicketkeeper. Maxwell scored 79 and 52 not out. Notts won by nine wickets. Maxwell finished his days as mine host of a pub in Taunton. He played for Middlesex and Worcestershire after the Second World War, but is always really associated with Cahn’s side.

Between 1937 and 1985, Notts had just two wins at Taunton. In 1955 the win was by eight runs with two minutes in hand. Somerset were set 286 in 200 minutes and looked certain of victory, but the final four wickets went down for 22 runs, Bruce Dooland’s leg spin took 12 wickets in the match; Johnny Clay (127) and Freddie Stocks (92) added 185 for Notts’ fifth wicket. The other success came in 1968. Notts required only 103 in their last innings, but lost seven wickets before the target was reached.

In summary 29 Notts v Somerset games have taken place at Taunton, Notts have won five, lost 11 and the remainder were drawn. 

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