SOMERSET County Cricket Club have been playing against the Australians ever since 1882, but have only ever beaten them once in a first class match, and that was 45 years ago at The Recreation Ground in Bath.

The match also marked the Somerset debut of Joel Garner a young Barbadian who was playing Lancashire League cricket for Littleborough where he was enjoying considerable success.

The game started on Wednesday May 18th and played in beautiful weather throughout. Batting first in front of a full house at the beautiful city centre ground Australia lost an early wicket when the debutant Garner claimed a wicket with his fifth ball.

Somerset County Gazette: The scorecard from the match.The scorecard from the match.

Somerset old boy Greg Chappell then stepped up and by lunch had moved onto 99 not out, having hit three 6s and fourteen fours as he dominated a third wicket stand of 124.

However Graham Burgess, who had played at Bath on many previous occasions, exploited the conditions and along with Garner claimed the last eight wickets for 55 runs as the Aussies were all out for 232.

Burgess finished with figures of 9.2 overs, two maidens, five for 25, while Garner ended with four for 66 off his 20, of which eight were maidens.

In reply Somerset openers Brian Rose and Peter Denning put on 81 before the latter was out for 39. Rose continued to bat patiently while three further wickets fell at the opposite end , before Ian Botham strode to the middle and blitzed his way to 59 which included six 4s and three 6s, as he helped to add 82 for the fifth wicket.

Somerset County Gazette: Ian Botham in action in the match.Ian Botham in action in the match.

Phil Slocombe then joined Rose and the pair shared an unbroken stand of 112 before skipper Brian Close, in his last season before retiring, declared on 340 for five, a total that included 15 no balls from opening bowler Jeff Thomson. Rose remained unbeaten on 110, which included 15 fours while Slocombe was not out 55.

Australia lost two early wickets at the start of their second innings before David Hookes raced onto 85 in 90 minutes as the tourists ended the second day on 127 for four. The following morning Hookes was eventually bowled by Burgess for 108, which included 15 fours and four sixes.

The tourists were all out for 289, Botham ending with four for 98 from his 22 overs, six maidens, while Garner claimed two for 71 from 23 with six maidens.

Needing 182 to win in three hours 45 minutes Somerset openers Rose and Denning got off to a good start putting on 50, before Denning was out for 34.

Rose stayed at the crease for two hours batting patiently for his 27 while Richards hit a rapid 53, with 11 fours, after which Botham finished things off with an unbeaten 39 to see the Cidermen home with an hour to spare.

Somerset County Gazette: Joel Garner made his debut in the game.Joel Garner made his debut in the game.

Recalling that game 45 years ago five wicket hero Budgie Burgess who was born and grew up in Glastonbury said: “The ball swung around prodigiously which was good for me and I always loved bowling at Bath. David Hookes got a brilliant century and I came onto bowl at him from the Pavilion End and the first ball swung back a little bit and knocked his off stump out.”

“It was a good match and I have got a lot of wonderful memories from playing at Bath. I always enjoyed playing at the out grounds. Growing up in Glastonbury the only time I ever saw county cricket was when it came to my home town.

Rose remembers: “It was a great occasion, there was a huge crowd there for all three days so there was a real atmosphere about the place.

“I recall facing Thomson and Dymock who opened the bowling and noticed that Douggie Walters was fielding at fine leg at both ends. I then found out Douggie had been out the previous evening and returned late which their captain Greg Chappell wasn’t happy about so he made him field at fine leg as a penalty!”

Rose went on: “I was batting really well and not out and then Closey (Brian Close) declared. When I got back to the dressing room I really let him know what I thought- I’d never been in such a bigger temper- 110 not out against Australia and he declared.”

Somerset County Gazette: Brian Rose takes a shot.Brian Rose takes a shot.

“This was also Joel Garner’s debut and watching him bowl for the first time was a jaw dropping experience - Dasher (Peter Denning) and I looked at each other gobsmacked by the first ball he bowled- the trajectory of the ball and the affect it had on the batter was just amazing. You could see he was going to be a great bowler and we were so lucky to have him.”

Before the game the two captains Chappell and Close had planted two silver birch trees to the left of the pavilion to mark the occasion.

However Rose recalled an incident involving the Somerset skipper that occurred after the conclusion of the match.

“Bath City Council gave a civic reception for both teams in the Roman Baths, at the end of which ‘Closey’ disappeared and after a few minutes then appeared in a pair of shorts and dived into the Roman Bath- and then he didn’t come up for a couple of minutes.

Somerset County Gazette: Somerset vs Australia - 1977

"Now one of his many talents was that he could hold his breath for a long while so I knew what was going on, but the longer he stayed under the more concerned everyone became, so much so that the lifeguards jumped in to rescue him- only for Closey to emerge from the water laughing his head off.

“Sadly the lifeguards didn’t see the funny side and he was ordered out so off he went- much to the amusement of us all!”

Somerset have beaten Australia once since then and that was in 2005- but thats another story!