Since then the counties have contested the shorter Clydesdale Bank 40, a competition in which Somerset famously finished as runners-up two years running.
Now, in a bid to mirror the requirements of international cricket, county cricketers will again play 50 over cricket, with Somerset’s first Royal London Cup match taking place at Taunton today against Durham.
With a view to the World Cup in early 2015, the ECB is clearly hoping that exposure to the longer form of the game will help prepare players for one-day success on the international stage.
Back home though, it’s fair to say that county cricket supporters have some reticence about the move. 100 overs add up to a long old day. It’s certainly longer than a usual day at a Championship game and considerably more overs than those bowled on the average day of a Test Match.
Matches will either start earlier too – at 10.30am for day games – or finish late, with day/night games getting underway at 2pm.
Those who criticise one-day cricket for ‘boring’ periods during the middle of an innings fear this could be exaggerated during a 50 over match and turn away the very audience the counties want to attract at this time of year – families. With all the matches taking place during a three-week block during the school holidays, the new competition is the only cricket available for children to watch live.
In contrast, CB40 games were usually after lunch affairs, meaning less of a commitment, enabling families to have Sunday lunch before heading off to the cricket for weekend fixtures.
The ECB have recognised the issue and are making a big push to promote the new competition to families, with entrance to some games, including Somerset’s fixture against Durham today, free for children. There will also be plenty of activities for youngsters at certain games, again like the one today.
These concerns aside, it’s worth noting that the Seconds play a 50 over competition each year – as do the club sides which many of our players also represent. As a result, some of our squad for today’s game already have plenty of experience of the format this season.
That experience will certainly come in useful as players adjust from the fast-moving pace of the T20 tournament group stages which concluded on Friday night to batting for a full 50 overs.
It may be hard to see how 10 extra overs will necessarily make the difference to England’s success on the international arena. It’s in other areas of the one-day game where other sides have made innovations after all.
But it’s a positive step by the ECB and the counties are looking to make sure they make the most of the competition and quickly get to grips with the tactics required. Somerset Director of Cricket Dave Nosworthy in particular sees the positives in giving the players more opportunities to make big scores and the bowlers the chance to bowl more spells.
Nos told the official club website: “It is very exciting for us. There’s been some negative comments about going from 40 to 50 overs, but I like the longer format.
“It allows players to really get stuck in. The bowlers have time to get two spells in the game and it also allows spinners to play a bigger role. It allows batters longer time at the crease to score bigger hundreds and for numbers 5, 6 and 7 to score centuries as well.
“The 50 over format brings a lot of other cricketing skills into the game, which I find exciting and with us playing quite well in the longer format I’m hoping that we will be able to convert to the 50 over game quite well.”
Nosworthy added: “Durham are a decent one day outfit and a well-balanced side. They bat quite deep and their bowlers do a really good job so we need to be aware of that. However we need to be really focused on what we need to do in 50 over format and ensure that we have the right frame of mind to get across the line when it counts.”
Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick, who is the only survivor from the Somerset team that lifted the 50-over Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy at Lord’s in 2001 told the club website: “This is a new competition starting at the back end of the season so it should be good especially with the weather the way that it is at the moment and it should give an opportunity to play some good cricket.
“Having played 40 and 20 over cricket you have to get used to this longer format pretty quickly. I don’t think you will get too many big scores compared to what you get in 40 overs, because those 10 overs make a bit difference and it feels a lot longer when you play it.”
The last time Somerset met Durham in one-day cricket was in the 40 over format at Taunton on 22 July 2012 when Somerset emerged as winners by 8 wickets.
Somerset make just one change to the 14-man squad who were chosen for the T20 game against Middlesex on Friday. Alex Barrow comes into the squad in place of T20 specialist Dirk Nannes.
Somerset will therefore select their final line up from the following 14-man squad: Marcus Trescothick (capt), Alex Barrow, Nick Compton, George Dockrell, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Colin Ingram, Chris Jones, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Alfonso Thomas and Pete Trego.
Bridgwater College will also be on hand today with a number of cricket based activities including a cricket matrix game, fitness challenge and a cricket sprint challenge.
Gates will open at 9.30 am, an hour before the match.
We wish Somerset all the best in this new competition and hope to see them at Lord’s in September! There will be full coverage of the tournament over the next three weeks here on The InCider.