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Somerset show the spirit of ’93

On May 14, 1993, the number one record in the charts was the incredibly unmemorable Freak Me by Silk, which was enjoying its second week at the top to be replaced next day by Janet Jackson with That’s The Way Loves Goes.

Venture out to the cinema and you could have watched Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Dave, which starred Kevin Kline and Sigiourney Weaver, or Splitting Heirs, starring John Cleese and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Or you could have stayed in instead. I know I did.

On TV Pete Beale was making his final appearance in EastEnders and Ireland’s Niamh Kavanagh was winning the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest with In Your Eyes.

Leeds United were the reigning champions of England (I had to get that in) but were soon to be replaced by Manchester United in the first ever Premier League season.

Whatever happened to him?

And had you been at the County ground in Taunton on May 14, 1993, you would have witnessed Somerset beating Lancashire in a remarkable game inside two days. This made more remarkable by the fact that the home team only mustered 309 runs in both their innings and set the visitors a miserly 88 to win the match, but bowled them out for 72 thanks to Andy Caddick’s 9 for 32.

Making his debut in that game was a 17-year-old called Marcus Trescothick who opened with Mark Lathwell. But the youngster from Keynsham mustered only 4 runs in both knocks, being dismissed by Phil de Freitas both times.

But this was a fine win handing Somerset two wins in their first two Championship games and this was a feat that wouldn’t be equalled for another 25 years.

It had been very different in Somerset’s first game of 1993. The cider county went to Southampton and hammered Hampshire, declaring at 500 for 6. Lathwell (99), Harden (97), Folland (81) and Neil Burns with an undefeated 102 led the charge.

The home team included David Gower, Mark Nicholas, Malcolm Marshall and Kevin Shine but were put to the sword by a rampant Caddick, who took 6 for 48 in Hampshire’s first innings total of 156, and followed that with 4 for 44 as the home team surrendered with 196 in the second innings. Somerset won by an innings and 148 runs.

The 1993 season was a new format for the County Championship with only one division and each county playing each other just the once.

In the aforementioned Lancashire game – the third round of Championship matches that summer – Somerset were again thankful to Lathwell, whose 71 dominated their first innings 195 all out. Lancashire actually took a lead of 27 into the second innings’ having put 222 on the board and, when Chris Tavare’s team were dismissed for just 114, the target of 88 to win looked a foregone conclusion for Lancashire. Until that man Caddick struck.

So when Yorkshire’s Jack Leaning skied one off Craig Overton and into the hands of Matt Renshaw to confirm a hard earned victory yesterday, it was indeed a poignant moment for Somerset fans. The win put us second in the table behind Notts with a game in hand, and it is the first time since 1993 that we have started a Championship campaign with two wins.

This was always going to be a challenge for Somerset. Yorkshire have a fine squad despite being without Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Plunkett. Having lost the first day to rain, the home team were grateful to Matt Renshaw’s masterful century. The Aussie – ironically born in Yorkshire, and still has family there – had the residents of the Press Box reaching for their Wisden Almanacks as he opened his scoring with a six, reached his 50 with another than passed 100 runs with another. Was this the first time in Championship history? Probably, but his 111 dominated the total of 216 all out. Somerset will be a tad concerned that only George Bartlett backed Renshaw as 145 for 1 prompted another collapse where 9 wickets fell for just 71 runs scored.

But credit to the bowlers who united to reduce the Tykes to 64 for 8 before dismissing them for 96, giving Somerset a lead of 120. And when it looked like another home team collapse was on the way up stepped the captain when it mattered. There are still those wittering on about Tom Abell’s age and being too young to skipper Somerset. What a load of rubbish! Tom led his team brilliantly and he never let the Yorkshire batters off the hook with his captaincy, mixing the bowling and making them sweat for every run.

And he even bowled, taking two useful wickets including Tim Bresnan, who was still chuntering about his lbw decision to Dickie Bird as he made his way to the team bus long after the game was finished.

So well done lads. Of course this will prompt a rise in expectation as the team head to Manchester for the next game starting on Friday. But I am sure Andy Hurry and Jason Kerr will take each game as it comes and the team will be prepared.

Head back to 1993 and Somerset lost their third game at Worcester before beating Glamorgan comfortably at Taunton in game four. The team finally winning 8 games as a very respectable fifth-place finish was negotiated with Middlesex the champions. After the wins against Worcestershire and Yorkshire Somerset diehards will be hoping for higher than fifth this season. Much higher.