TWENTY20 cricket was first introduced into the English domestic calendar in 2003 and after being given a sceptical reception by many traditionalists it has become a popular form of the game with spectators of all ages, writes Richard Walsh.

Now in it’s twentieth season Somerset have won the T20 Cup on one occasion and that was back in 2005, when they beat Lancashire in the final that was played at the Oval.

Since then Somerset have been to seven Finals Days and have been beaten in finalists on four occasions.

On Saturday their hordes of passionate and long suffering supporters will be making their way north up the M5 to the T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston again, where they will meet Hampshire in the second semi final and if they win go onto face the winners of the other semi between Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Back in 2005 Somerset played against reigning champions Leicestershire in the second semi final and batting first the Cidermen were struggling at 124 for six before two of the younger players Wes Durston (18) and Carl Gazzard who made 23. helped them to reach 157.

Somerset County Gazette: Somerset win T20 competition in 2005.

In reply the Foxes looked to be cruising on 90 for for two in the 12th over but then slipped to 124 for six and eventually ended up four runs short to give Somerset a place in the final.

Rain then fell heavily after Somerset’s game and the final against a star studded Lancashire side didnt start until 8.15pm as a 16 overs per side match.

Lancashire batted first and were limited to 114 for eight, Richard Johnson taclaiming theee for 22 and Andy Caddick two for 21.

When Somerset replied skipper Graeme Smith had his mind set on just one thing and that was leading his side from the front to victory. The young South African skipper opened the innings and remained unbeaten on 64 as Somerset reached 118 for three with 11 balls remaining. James Hildreth hit the winning runs as he had done earlier in the year against Australia.

Somerset County Gazette: Somerset win T20 competition in 2005.

Looking back to that memorable day 17 years ago Carl Gazzard who was named Man of the Match in the first game for his performances both with the bat and behind the stumps said: “ Playing for Somerset on the day that we won the T20 Finals in 2005 is the biggest moment of my cricketing career.

“It’s one of those days that goes away so quickly because so much happens and you forget it.

“I do remember watching a video that Mark Garaway had put together of clips celebrating all of our successes scoring runs and taking wickets which mentally helped to make us believe in what we were doing which I thought was quite good.

We were quite chilled out watching the first semi final and then it was a rush because there wasn’t too much time to warm up before our game. From then it was so much of a blur really because I was on such a high after the semi final and the final went through quickly for me.

He added: “My children still don’t believe it happened, apart whenever we turn up at anything that is cricket related they can quite believe why people want to talk to me about that day!”

Somerset County Gazette: Somerset win T20 competition in 2005.

Keith Parsons said: “ It was a great occasion for us all . In the semi final Leicestershire were cruising and then started to panic against the spinners and we squeezed through and we went into the final probably thinking that we had just had our final, having beaten Leicester from nowhere.

“We got going early on and got wickets against a strong Lancashire side who had big named players. We had a few younger players just at the start of their careers so it was a great all round performance, and we took some good catches.”

James Hildreth who hit the winning runs said: “It was my first big game in front of a big crowd so I have got lasting memories of just getting there. It was probably one of the first times that I had played at the Oval.

“There were big crowds and it was just a massive day with Girls Aloud performing out on the pitch. The whole atmosphere was something that was new to me- with the build up and everything you could just tell how big a day it was for county cricket bearing in mind that T20 was a pretty new competition and had just started.

“It was a showcase occasion and that day was a big deal and an important event for the club.we were all so excited about it. We had no baggage we were just fresh and excited about it.

Hildreth added: “We were massive underdogs, especially in the final against the Lancashire All Star team. We had no inhibitions we just went out there and performed. It was an amazing day and I hit the winning runs! “

Richard Johnson who claimed three wickets in the final said : “ That was one of my first games that year and it was the youngsters who played in the eralier rounds to get us to Finals Day

We went ion as underdogs and scraped through the first one against Leicestershire who had a good T20 side.

“To win the final against Lancashire was a good effort and my biggest memory of that day was about Graeme Smith and how calm he was and how much confidence he instilled in everyone. Just before we went out he got us together and said ‘no stress if you play as well as I know you can then we have got this game’ which was great and it worked.”

Now in 2022 Somerset head for Edgbaston in the hope of lifting the T20 Cup for only the second time in the history of the competition.