My Favourite Match: Dennis Breakwell

Somerset County Cricket Club have been involved in so many incredible matches over the years, and during this winter we will be speaking with several former players to discuss their favourite games for the Club.

Today we continue this series with Dennis Breakwell.

Dennis joined Somerset from Northamptonshire before the start of the 1973 season and quickly became a key part of our Glory Years side.

Between 1973 and 1983 Dennis played in 165 First Class matches, scoring 3777 and taking 281 wickets. He also played in 148 one-day games, scoring 1059 runs and taking 58 wickets.

How did Dennis, who hails from the West Midlands, end up in the South West?

“When I was playing at Northampton I was in the same side as Bishen Bedi, who was a very fine cricketer. Although I played alongside him, I didn’t bowl as much as I’d have liked.

“Then, in 1972 I was playing against Somerset at Wellingborough. Afterwards, Brian Close asked me if I’d like to come down to Taunton and join them. I said I’d talk to the powers that be at Northants and they said that even though I was still in contract they wouldn’t stand in my way. I went and talked with my dad, who was a very fine cricketer himself, and he said I should go for it. That’s how I came to Somerset and became very much a Somerset person, which I still am.”

Which match is Dennis going to choose as his favourite game?

“Over the years that I was playing for Somerset, I played in some great games and on some big occasions. In that era, we were playing against some great teams. I remember going out to play at Hampshire and we had Joel and Beefy opening the bowling against Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge!

“The people we played with and against were the best players of the time. Even Test match players would play for their county until the game ended on Tuesday evening and travel to the Test on Wednesday ready for the Thursday start and then come back ready to start the next Wednesday. Very often we used to play seven days a week.

“I played in two winning Lord’s Finals for Somerset, the Benson & Hedges and the Gillette Cup. I was also in the team that won the John Player League the same year.

“I remember coming off the pitch at Lord’s in 1979 after winning the Gillette Cup but we couldn’t drink because we were driving up to Trent Bridge the next day. I drove up there with Beefy and we never had a drink even though we’d just won our first ever one-day trophy.

“That was a very special day and a special weekend. Driving back down the motorway, we saw all the cars with Somerset flags waving out of the window. We used to take so many people to our away matches, it meant so much to them and it did to us as well.”

“Even though I’ve played in some big games, I’ve chosen the County Championship match against Sussex at Weston-super-Mare as my favourite.

“I loved playing at Weston, and we’d always get a very good crowd there to watch us. You were so close to everyone. The dressing room was so small, and the crowds were only a couple of yards away, which was always nice to feel. It also happened that on that day John Cleese, who is a big Somerset supporter, was there which was special and makes you remember the day even more.

“The game was a low scoring one. They batted first and scored 154. In reply, we were all out for 150. We lost a lot of time to the rain but when we did start again on the third afternoon in their second innings, we bowled them out for next to nothing (64).

“I remember running a lad called Hoadley out. I picked the ball up at mid-off, turned and ran him out. Joel got five, then me and Vic came on at the end and bowled 10 overs and got the last four wickets between us.

“We were chasing 69 in nine overs to win and if we were chasing, Rosey would always tell me to get the pads on.

“Rosey and Dasher opened, Viv went in at three, Beefy at four and I went in number five with the score on 42 for three.

“There are a couple of incidents that happened in the game which were really funny. I don’t think that Imran Khan was bowling as quick as he used to bowl. He came on to bowl and I managed to hit him for four and then I get down the other end and hit Geoff Arnold for six and four.

“A fellow called Arnold Long, who was known as Oblong, was keeping wicket for Sussex. Imran came in and bowled one down the leg side. I was stood outside the off stump and the ball went for four byes. Oblong said he wasn’t going to go down for that and we’d won the game.

“I suppose if you chase 69 in nine overs now you would expect to get them but, in those days, it was something. We got them and it was brilliant. That was a very special game for me.

“We had a week of cricket in Weston, and for us it was like going on holiday. I loved it there.”