Yorkshire have visited five different venues in Somerset to play in a List A match but from 2002 all of the visits have been to Taunton. Paul Dyson looks back at a game at which had an extremely close finish.
May 12, 2002, at Taunton: Yorkshire 307-4 in 45 overs (MJ Wood 105*, DS Lehmann 104); Somerset 306-8 in 45 overs (J Cox 99, ID Blackwell 79, PD Bowler 53, MJ Hoggard 3-44). Yorkshire won by one run.
This match was in the first division of the Norwich Union League. It started out life as the John Player League in which each county played each other once during the season, always on a Sunday, and started in 1969, when it was played over 40 overs per side. From 1999, however, the counties were divided into two divisions with promotion and relegation and played each other twice over 45 overs. In 2001, the year prior to this match, Somerset had finished in fourth place but Yorkshire had ended its season in sixth position thus just avoiding relegation (three counties went down and three came up) despite having concluded the 2000 campaign as runners-up.
For both counties this was the first game of the season; for Yorkshire Darren Lehmann, in his only year as Yorkshire captain, won the toss and decided to bat. Craig White and Matthew Wood shared a half-century stand for the first wicket before the former was caught off the fast-medium bowling of Steffan Jones for 25 from 30 balls. The promotion of Chris Silverwood to act as a pinch-hitter failed but Michael Vaughan made a useful contribution and when he was dismissed the score was exactly 100. This brought Lehmann to the crease and, often through scrambled singles, he gradually transformed the momentum of the innings. He and the quieter Wood added 170 together in 24 overs with Lehmann making 104 of these. The stand remains the highest for Yorkshire for any wicket against Somerset. Lehmann’s innings lasted for only 74 balls, his second half-century coming from a mere 27 and his 11 fours and two sixes contained several ‘booming blows’ (Wisden). He tormented the off-spin of Keith Dutch with ‘variations on the reverse sweep’ (Yorkshire CCC Yearbook).
After Lehmann’s dismissal Anthony McGrath joined in the fun with 20 from only 14 balls and saw Wood through to an accomplished century and the end of his team’s innings. Wood also struck 11 fours but his 105 not out had come from 126 balls, him playing the anchor role – throughout the entire innings – to perfection and seeing his side through to 307 for four – its third highest in all of the competition’s formats. It was the first time that two Yorkshire batsmen had both made centuries in a one-day match. Jones was the most economical of Somerset’s seven bowlers and was the only one to take two wickets. Unfortunately, his team’s out-cricket did not always back him up; there was some ragged fielding and they conceded no fewer than 30 extras, including an unforgivable 15 wides – an average of one every three overs. Both Ian Blackwell and Peter Trego conceded over nine runs per over.
Somerset had a mountain to climb and it was not made any easier by the dismissal of its captain, Marcus Trescothick in the first over for a duck; he was lbw to Matthew Hoggard. However, there were then two successive century partnerships. Peter Bowler (53) shared 112 with Australian Jamie Cox and the latter then shared a further 103 with Blackwell. Cox batted with remarkable timing and power and was brilliantly caught by Lehmann at extra cover one short of a deserved century (from 83 balls) and the total then moved along to 247 for three before Blackwell was bowled by Chris Silverwood for 79 from 54 balls. The innings’ three highest scorers had played with ‘thrilling vigour’ (Wisden). Although wickets then fell much more regularly the necessary momentum was maintained. Yorkshire took wickets at vital times, including two falling in one over from Hoggard and the equation eventually came down to eight runs being required from the final over – to be bowled by Ryan Sidebottom – the home side having three wickets remaining. Two singles were followed by the wicket of Andy Caddick and two more singles meant that Dutch, who had come in at the fall of the fifth wicket, needed to strike a four from the final ball of the game. He hit the ball down to third man but could manage only two – and the home side had lost a 613-run contest by the narrowest possible margin, the game finishing at the late hour of 19.30. Hoggard finished with three for 44, being easily the most penetrative and economical of the Yorkshire bowlers.
In scoring 105 not out and batting throughout Yorkshire’s innings, Matthew Wood played a crucial role in helping to secure his county’s very narrow win in this exciting match. Although thought of more readily as a first-class specialist, his five centuries in the List A game have been beaten by only six batsmen from the county.