The Somerset CCC 300 club is an exclusive group of just six players who between them have scored seven triple hundreds while wearing the Somerset Wyvern.
The first took a long time coming and it was Harold Gimblett who first achieved the triple ton in August 1948 when he hit Sussex for 310 at The Saffrons in Eastbourne, scoring 53.1% of his team’s total of 584. This game ended a draw, in fact only one of the seven games featuring a triple hundred forced a positive result.
There would be a further wait of 37 years for the second and the first of four scored at the County Ground in Taunton when Viv Richards took 322 of the Warwickshire bowlers, 56.9% of the Somerset total of 566. This would be Somerset’s highest individual score for 21 years and remains the second highest individual score by a Somerset player to date.
Supporters only had to wait five years for the next in 1990 when South African run machine Jimmy Cook scored an unbeaten 313 at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff as Somerset declared on 535 for 2. His contribution was 58.5% of the total – the highest personal percentage of personal run haul versus team total. The Welsh County then also declared on 412 for 6 before Somerset posted 244 for 3 to set the home team 367 to win. The Welshmen made a brave 239 for 6, with Somerset’s current Director of Cricket Matt Maynard hitting 64. Viv Richards played for Glamorgan in this game hitting 16 in each innings.
It was in 2005 that the fourth triple hundred was scored – the second at Taunton – when another South African, Graeme Smith, hit Leicestershire for 311 in a game Somerset won by 10 wickets, the only positive result. His was 55% of the total score of 566, the joint lowest completed innings total. Leicestershire scored 330 and 253 either side of this innings leaving Somerset needing just 18 to win and this was safely negotiated without loss. Playing for the visitors were future Somerset players Charl Willoughby and Chris Rogers and a young Stuart Broad.
The next two seasons saw a triple century in each season by the same player. In 2006 the fifth triple ton remains the highest individual score by a Somerset when Justin Langer hit 342 against Surrey at Guildford (49.7% of the total). The knock included 43 four’s and 2 sixes as Somerset posted 688. Surrey then finished on 717 for 7 helped by Ricky Clarke (214) and Mark Ramprakash (167).
Langer is the only player to score more than one triple ton for Somerset and his second came in his first game as club captain in 2007 and was the third at Taunton. His former team, Middlesex, posted 600 before Langer struck 315 as Somerset scored a mighty 850, the highest team total in the club’s history. There were also tons for James Hildreth, Cameron White and Peter Trego. Langer’s personal contribution was 37% of the team total, the lowest percentage for a triple centurion.
Future Somerset players Nick Compton and Murali Kartil played for the visitors as did former Wyvern Richard Johnson.
The last triple hundred to date was scored in 2009 by only the second Englishman in the list. At Taunton James Hildreth hit Warwickshire for an unbeaten 303 – the lowest triple hundred score – as his team posted 672, the sixth highest Somerset team total.
To balance the books there have been seven scores of 300 plus against Somerset including two quadruple centuries – in 1895 Lancashire’s Archie McLaren’s hit 424 of his team’s score of 801 (the second highest against Somerset) and Graham Hick hit an unbeaten 405 in 1988. In 1899 Somerset were on the receiving end of two triple tons in a few months with Bobby Abel of Surrey carrying his bat for 357 runs as his team hit 811 in May, the highest team total against Somerset. Two months later Hampshire’s Robert Poore hit 304. In recent years Mike Hussey of Nottinghamshire and Murray Goodwin of Sussex have hit treble tons at Taunton with Wally Armstrong also achieving the feat in a Tourists game at Bath in 1905. Five of these triple hundreds against Somerset happened at Taunton.