It was far from beach weather when Somerset rolled into Scarborough for a 40-over game in the Refuse Assurance League on 14th August 1988. Gale force winds and dark skies greeted all but it didn’t deter a good Yorkshire crowd turning out and they were treated to an excellent game with plenty of runs, drama and a very close finish.
Somerset went into the game having lost their previous in this league to Derbyshire at Clarence Park in Weston-super-Mare one week before. Chasing 175 to win they fell short by 2 runs despite Vic Marks’ 80 runs opening the batting. Yorkshire had lost away to our near neighbours Gloucestershire by three wickets on the same day having set the hosts only 192 to win. So both sides were keen to secure a win in the North Yorkshire seaside town.
Marks assumed the captaincy from the absent Peter Roebuck and won the toss and decided to bat. Graham Rose and Jon Hardy opened up but the former didn’t last long bowled by Shaw for 10. Julian Wyatt entered the fray and he and Hardy kept the scorers busy. Hardy was bowled for a decent 30 with the total on 61 but Wyatt was playing arguably the best one-day innings’ of his career. He and Steve Waugh took the score nicely to 135 with only 26 overs bowled and the cider county looked set for a big score.
During Somerset’s innings umpires John Hampshire and Nigel Plews were kept busy with three run outs, the first of those being the unfortunate Waugh for 38. But Wyatt was unperturbed and continued to take the battle to the Tykes alongside Ricky Bartlett. But on 194 Wyatt became the second run out having scored an excellent 89 in just 80 deliveries.
Bartlett soon followed but Marks and Neil Burns took the score to 222 when Burns became the third player to fall short of the crease. The innings closed on a highly competitive 235, a very demanding total for any side to chase in any conditions but particularly in the heavy winds which had, thus far, handicapped both sides.
To be fair to Yorkshire they chased like they always thought they could win despite early setbacks. They also lost an opener who had scored 10 runs – Metcalfe bowled Dredge – and their second wicket fell with 61 on the board after 15 overs when Kevin Sharp was caught behind off Rose. And when Byas fell lbw without scoring the game looked a real uphill battle for the home side who were way behind the rate now.
But Martyn Moxon and Phil Robinson decided to go for it and put bat to ball. And this was effective. When Yorkshire’s sixth wicket fell the home side were on 181 after 31 overs and their target of 56 runs in 54 deliveries made them favourites. But the game was swinging over-by-over. After Mallender bowled a maiden the home side needed 36 from 5 overs. Advantage Somerset. Adrian Jones’ next over cost 10 runs leaving Yorkshire needing 27 off 19 balls. Advantage Yorkshire – again – but – to balance it slightly – they did lose the wicket of Sidebottom at the end of that over to leave only two wickets in hand.
Moxon scored a marvellous 68 and when Dredge caught him off Jones’s bowling Somerset were feeling some relief. But the target was now 12 runs off 8 balls. Last man Fletcher failed to score off the last two balls of that penultimate over and it was left to Mallender to try and negotiate the final over and see his team home.
The first three balls prompted three singles. Shaw missed the next delivery and then smashed the penultimate ball for four. The scenario for Yorkshire was four to tie, six to win. Shaw then got bat behind the last delivery, which was heading for the boundary, when Dredge thrust out a gangly leg and managed to get a foot behind the ball and retrieve it safely with only two runs scored. Somerset had won by 2 runs. It was a cracking match in unlikely cricket conditions.
Jones finished with three for 46 while Wyatt was deservedly named Man of the Match.
Somerset picked up four points towards their season total of 26 points which ultimately placed them 14th in a seventeen-team league. Yorkshire finished 8th with 32 way behind the Ian Botham inspired Worcestershire who were crowned champions having won 12 of their 16 encounters.