My Favourite Game: Neil Edwards

Somerset County Cricket Club have been represented by some outstanding players who have featured in some memorable games.

During this winter we will be speaking with several former players to discuss their favourite games for the Club.

The latest former player to tell us about his favourite match is Neil Edwards.

The tall left-handed opener was born in Truro in October 1983 and grew up living in West Cornwall, where he attended Cape Cornwall College at St Just.

From an early age Neil started to make an impression on the local cricket scene and in 2000, at the age of 16, he made a double century for Cornwall Under 19s against Dorset before making his debut for Cornwall in the Minor County Championship.

So, how did a boy from West Cornwall find his way to Somerset?

“When I’d finished my GCSE exams, I went onto Richard Huish College and joined the old Academy set up when it was run by Julian Wyatt,” he explained when we spoke with him earlier this week. “There were six of us in total who joined that year and one of the others was Gareth Andrew.

“When we were 17, Peter Anderson, who was the Chief Executive, offered Gareth and myself a summer contract to play in the Second XI under Mark Garaway, who’d by then taken over the Academy from Julian.

“My First Class debut for Somerset was in July 2002 against West Indies A. The game was tied, and Pete Trego got his 140. The year afterwards, my Championship debut was at home against Northamptonshire when Mike Hussey scored his triple century, which was something special to see.

“I played in the next match against Worcestershire at New Road and then against Hampshire at home where I scored 160 in only my third game.

“However, that’s not the match I’m going to choose because I’m going for our home game against Leicestershire in 2007 when me, Marcus, Hildy and Cameron White all got hundreds. The top four all got three figures!

“The reason why I like that game is that in the previous match was against Middlesex at Lord’s we got hammered. Justin Langer declared on 50 for eight in the first innings and in that game I got my only First Class pair, so I came into the Leicester match feeling that any form I might have was as far away as it possibly could be, even though I’d scored a double hundred against Loughborough in pre-season.

“We’d lost at Middlesex and our season seemed to be going nowhere at that particular time. Then, for the next game against Leicestershire, who had a young Stuart Broad in their side, we did something a bit different to the wicket and left a bit more grass on.

“They won the toss and batted, and we bowled them out inside two sessions for 160 odd, with Steffan (Jones) taking six. In reply, by the end of the first day, me a Tres had both got hundreds and I got out. Hildy and Cam White then both got hundreds and we declared on 675 for five.

“We then bowled them out again in two sessions to win by an innings and 259 runs.

“The reason why I like that game is because it set the tone for the rest of the 2007 season and at the end of summer we got promoted to Division One of the Championship and have been there ever since.

“It was a turning point for me and was also a turning point for the team. After that we didn’t look back and annihilated teams for the rest of the season by playing a really aggressive brand of cricket.

“That was a really good team and that was when Somerset started to sing Blackbird as their victory song. That’s something that came flooding back to me when I watched the players come onto the field and sing it in front of the supporters after winning the T20 last year at Edgbaston. That was the tradition that we started. As I watched, it was a bit of a nostalgic moment for me. It’s a legacy at Somerset that I was part of in some small way.”

After playing in 49 First Class matches, in which he scored almost 3000 runs at an average of 35.34, Neil left at the end of 2009 to join Nottinghamshire, where he played until retiring at the end of the 2012 season.

Neil remains living in Nottinghamshire and is still involved with the sporting scene, as he explained.

“Now I’m a partner in an executive recruitment firm called McBride Sport who support global sports organisations with their leadership, director and board level hires, so over the last few years I have been involved with Somerset but in a very different way.”