BRIAN Rose’s autobiography, ‘Rosey: My Life in Somerset Cricket’, is being launched today at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

It is a must-read for Somerset fans of any generation, as Rose reflects on his early playing days under the captaincy of Brian Close, getting the best out of ‘the big three’ (Viv Richards, Ian Botham and Joel Garner) as captain himself in ‘the glory years’ and his more recent tenure as director of cricket.

The following is an extract from the book, as Rose recalls his early impressions of Viv Richards...

“My first encounter with Viv Richards was in April 1973. Lansdown were playing a warm-up game against Weston 2nds, and Viv was making his debut.

Quite by chance, I was at the ground and watched about half an hour of their innings. It was a typical early season pudding of a pitch and, after taking some time to get the measure of conditions which were completely alien to him, he started playing his shots.

Hello, I thought, who’s this? So I asked the Lansdown boys about him, and they told me the story about Len Creed and the Mendip Acorns. I made a note that this was a cricketer to watch.

The next time I came across him was later that same season, when we were both in the Somerset Under-25 side against Gloucestershire Under-15s at Bristol.

We batted first on a green, seaming pitch and were three down when I walked out to join him. The next over, he hit straight balls from John Shackleton over mid-wicket for four - twice.

I decided that a word of advice might be in order, and at the end of the over I went up to him and said, ‘Be a bit careful, Viv. On this pitch, I should pay a bit straighter.’

And he replied, ‘Tanks’, as if an armoured column was making its way up the Ashley Down road. But that was the last piece of advice I ever gave him about batting. From then on, it was just words of encouragement.

His talent was obvious, right from the start. It was the same when I first saw Joel [Garner] bowling against the Australians at Bath. ‘Bloody hell’, you think, as your jaw drops.

But, with Viv, there was something extra special about him. My childhood cricketing hero was Garry Sobers, and I was lucky enough to get to know him when he played for Notts, to the extent that he very kindly came and played in a golf tournament at Weston as part of my benefit year.

When he walked into a bar, all conversation stopped. He had that aura about him, and Viv Richards came to have it, too. When you were walking around with him, people would stop and stare.

He carried himself like a man to be reckoned with, always looked you straight in the eye when talking to you, and on the pitch he had this fierce, penetrating stare which you felt could almost turn bowlers to stone like Medusa. He was a man completely confident in himself and his abilities.

For a young cricketer from a small island who had visited England only once before, Viv settled into life in Somerset remarkably well. When he moved to Taunton, his biggest danger was sharing the flat at the County Ground with Ian Botham and Dennis Breakwell, but he quickly learned how to handle them and the sort of stuff they got up to.

The pair of them were hyper-active, Breakwell even more so than Beefy - hence his nickname, given to him by Botham, of ‘the severed nerve’. He was like a spring escaped from a mattress, bouncing around, never still.

When I tell you that he once almost got himself arrested for throwing spuds out The Plough in Station Road in Taunton, at the pub on the opposite side of the road, just as a police car came round the corner, you’ll get the picture!”

Rosey: My Life in Somerset Cricket is available at Somerset County Sports at the Cooper Associates County Ground (01823 337597) and to order from