My Favourite Game: James Hildreth

Somerset County Cricket Club have been fortunate to 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.

Today we shine a spotlight on James Hildreth’s favourite game for Somerset.

James Hildreth retired at the end of the 2022 season following a long and highly successful playing career for Somerset.

‘Hildy’, as he is affectionately known, made his senior debut for Somerset in 2003, and for the next 20 seasons was almost a permanent fixture in the line up.

By the time he decided to call it a day he had played in 277 First Class matches for the County in which he scored 17,237 runs at an average of 40.46, which included 45 centuries and a best of 303 not out.

In addition, ‘Hildy’ played in 222 List A matches in which he scored 6096 runs at 35.04 which included eight centuries and a best of 159. He also played 206 T20 games, scoring 3906 runs (the highest career figures for any Somerset player). He also scored the winning runs when Somerset won the Twenty20 Cup in 2005 and the Royal London One-Day Cup in 2019.

So, which match was his favourite?

“I’ve played in a lot of finals and have been a part trophy winning sides,” he said. “But I think the match that’s my favourite is when we beat Australia in 2005.

“It was such a surreal occasion to be playing against Australia, who were the world champions. I was only 20 at the time, so it felt strange to be playing against a team made up of international players who were well known.

“A few of our experienced guys didn’t play, which gave some of the youngsters on the staff a chance to play. Even though a couple of their batters retired, it was a shock to beat them I suppose.

“Graeme Smith was just a brilliant player and captain and he was leading us. In addition to that Sanath Jayasuriya was playing. They both scored runs in that game and batted brilliantly.

“I’d never played in anything like it before. The ground was packed and it was just like playing an international fixture. Afterwards there were huge celebrations; the usual drinks and changing room antics. It was an amazing day with a full house at Taunton rocking and it gave us a boost moving forward as well because we went onto win the T20 Final a few weeks later.

“It felt like that game gave us a confidence boost and we thought that if we can beat Australia then we can do anything.

“On that day Carl Gazzard hit the winning runs and I was at the other end. I got 38 not out against an international bowling attack. That was a very special day.”

For the record, Australia batted first and posted 342 for five from their 50 overs. In reply, thanks largely to 108 from Smith and 101 from Jayasuriya, Somerset reached 345 for six in 46.5 overs.