Somerset rolled into London’s fashionable St Johns Wood on 3rd September 1983 seeking a fourth one day trophy in five years. The county, who had broken its duck with a victory in the 60-over Gillette Cup in 1979, had also enjoyed two successes in the 55-over Benson & Hedges Cup. To achieve another trophy win they would have to beat Kent at Lords in the newly called Nat West Trophy, and they were formidable opposition in those days and a side Somerset had battled with in many memorable occasions in recent history.
But it looked like the September weather would rule the day. When it became obvious that 120 overs would not be possible the umpires came together and decided the game would be 50 overs per side. Even that seemed optimistic to the large crowd who were surprised when the game actually did start in damp & gloomy conditions.
Kent’s captain, Chris Tavare, won the toss and decided to field. Maybe the thought of facing Joel Garner with darkened skies influenced his decision but it looked a good call as Somerset struggled early doors and never really recovered.
The score was 10 when Dilley nabbed Denning lbw and 20 when the same bowler clean bowled Roebuck. Slocombe and Richards battled taking the score to 89 with the Antiguan scoring 51 of them looking set for another century. But on the stroke of lunch Dilley produced a beauty and Viv was out. With Slocombe following soon after and Botham failing Somerset’s hopes also looked as gloomy as the sky with the scoreboard showing 112 for 5.
But Nigel Popplewell was joined by Vic Marks as they set about handing the opposition a decent total to chase. Popplewell’s 35 and Marks’ 29 saw the cider county crawl to 193 when their 50 overs ended. This was by no means ideal but was challenging enough for the South-East club, especially with Garner and Botham to face.
Somerset struck early when Benson was out for 0 caught by Jeremy Lloyds. 0 for 1! But the Kent skipper Tavare and Johnson took the score easily and without drama to 60 and the Home Counties team looked set for victory. But 60 for 1 became 89 for 5 thanks to the bowling of Marks and the heroic wicket keeping of Trevor Gard which turned the game. He stumped Aslett spectacularly off Richards and Cowdrey off Marks and Kent were on the ropes.
Ellison and Dilley hit out to offer small crumbs of hope to Kent fans but Garner then Botham accounted for these two and Kent fell short of their target by 24 runs handing Somerset the trophy.
This was a game that Somerset looked destined to lose for large parts yet is memorable as one of the few that brought home a trophy. Vic Marks turned the game with 3 for 30 off his ten overs to follow his important contribution with the bat and was duly named Man of the Match. But special mention should also be afforded to Gard who was much under-rated