Where we used to play: The Recreation Ground, Bath
When Somerset County Cricket Club was formed in 1875 at Sidmouth CC following a match between the Gentlemen of Somerset and the Gentlemen of Devon it was decided that the Club would initially lead a nomadic existence.
Rather than committing to one home ground, the decision was taken to bring quality cricket to the whole of the South West by playing at venues across the region.
Because we are proud to represent the whole of the South West region, we will be taking a closer look at some of SCCC’s homes away from home over the next few weeks.
Today we shine the spotlight on the Recreation Ground in Bath.
The first recorded instance of Somerset playing cricket at Bath’s Recreation Ground dates back to July 1897 when the County Club faced The Gentlemen of Philadelphia in a three-day First Class fixture. The match ended in a draw, and a link that would span over 100 years across more than 300 matches was forged.
Somerset had to wait until 1900 for a First Class victory at the venue; the maiden win coming courtesy of a seven-wicket success over Hampshire. Teddy Tyler was the star performer, claiming 13 wickets in the match. The result was made all the more remarkable because the opening day of the three-day fixture was washed out. An interesting aside is that Sammy Woods dislocated his thumb whilst fielding and was forced to bat at 11.
Only the advent of the two World Wars prevented Somerset playing First Class fixtures at Bath between 1897 and 2006. The final encounter saw Somerset lose out to Surrey by four wickets despite hundreds for Peter Trego and Cameron White.
The most famous First Class encounter at The Rec saw a debut for one of the Club’s greatest ever players in a famous victory over the touring Australians in 1977.
Australia were the holders of the Ashes when they arrived on these shores having overcome England in 1975 and the tourists, who were captained by Greg Chappell, were confident of making it three series’ in a row despite the absence of the injured Dennis Lillee and the the ongoing dispute between the Australian Cricket Board and Kerry Packer’s Nine Network.
The Tourists arrived at the Rec for their three day match against Somerset desperate for time in the middle after the weather heavily impacted their preceding matches against First Class County opposition.
Somerset handed a First Class debut to West Indian pace bowler, Joel Garner and he made an immediate impact.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat but Garner removed Rick McCosker with just two runs on the board. He also accounted for Chappell, Rodney Marsh and Gary Cosier to finish with four for 66 from 20 overs as the Tourists were dismissed for 232. Graham Burgess also impressed with five for 25 from just 9.3 overs.
The Somerset reply was led by Brian Rose (110 not out), Ian Botham (59) and Phil Slocombe (55 not out) and the hosts declared on 340 for five.
It was Botham’s turn to impress with the ball in Australia’s second innings as he claimed four wickets to help dismiss the Tourists for 289. Viv Richards then made a half century as Somerset completed a stunning and comprehensive victory by seven wickets.
Botham would go on to make his England debut in the third Ashes Test later that summer and he would become a thorn in the side of England’s fieriest rivals for many years to come.
In total, 255 First Class matches, 56 List A fixtures and one T20 clash have been played at the venue with the final encounter being the T20 match against Essex in 2011.
From that opening fixture against the Gentlemen of Philadelphia through to the annual cricket festival, Bath will always hold a special place in the history of the Club and in the hearts of our Members and supporters.
We are proud to represent the whole of the South West, and our goal for 2024 is to have at least one Somerset CCC Member in every postcode area in the region.
Existing Members, in order to purchase at the special early-bird renewal price, simply head to your online account and click “Advantages”. If T20 cricket is included in your 2023 Membership, the allocated seat has been held in this section of the website (Until seat renewal deadline of December 4th).
See everything that Somerset County Cricket Club has to offer and have a look at what’s new for 2024!