Sky view of the County Ground

T20 International. England v South Africa. 23rd June 2017. Taunton.

As Somerset CCC prepare to host three one-day internationals and install floodlights at the Cooper Associates County Ground here is a reminder of the last mens’ international to be played at Taunton. Or at least of the impression its staging made when viewed on television.

I bought a day of pay tv to watch the T20 International. £6.99. It was worth every penny.

The packed ground looked spectacular from the overhead shots which were regularly used throughout the broadcast. As were views of St James’ Church and of course the views of the Quantocks. And the Quantocks. And the Quantocks. And the Quantocks. And no John Arlott to describe their patchwork grandeur as they ringed the skyline above the Colin Atkinson Pavilion and the Botham and Trescothick Stands.

Somerset red sandstone and trees clothed in blue tinged haze little changed since they presided over Sammy Woods, Lionel Palairet and all those other ghosts down the years that trod this ground and from time to time put balls in the Tone as someone did in this match. Somerset and the ground did them and all the others who have strode to the middle down the decades. The ground and the hills were as much the stars as the cricketers.

At least £1.99 of my money must have been spent on the Quantocks and another 99p on the church. So £4.01 for the cricket and the spectacular views of the ground. A shame that Arlott could not be there to see how this great ground could transform itself from provincial headquarters to international venue to be proud of without seemingly losing an ounce of its spirit or character.

The current-day commentators entered into the spirit of the thing. They broadcast the match from a caravan located in front of the Caddick Pavilion and between the two player dugouts. They seemed to be having a whale of a time. Probably because they had not been that close to the action since they played. It kept them awake too because they spent the match waiting for a six or a one bounce four to fly into the van through the “letterbox” through which they watched the match.

I am not sure who was the more pleased, the commentators in the caravan or ‘Bumble’ who, before the match, found himself doing a piece from the top of the tower of St James church. A commentating god placed as near the heavens as one of the County Ground’s churches could put him.

As the match reached its later stages England were losing wickets quicker than Somerset are losing players to the various England set ups. The occupants of the flats and their guests were dancing on the balconies to the music which accompanies wickets at these events. Shades of the Elton John concert held at the ground on another day of celebration.

The whole crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the commentators and the people on the balconies of the flats, including the snowman in the Trescothick Stand who applauded enthusiastically and seemed to understand his cricket. As it looked on the TV screen the atmosphere in the ground and among the crowd was exceptional. As they say: A good time seemed to be had by all.

As to the cricket. Jason Roy made a tremendous 67 for England before running between the fielder and the stumps and being given out for obstructing the field. Apparently, AB de Villiers caught Eoin Morgan having lost the ball in the fading light as it came to him out of the background of the church. Otherwise it was a close T20 game like any other. Craig Overton was in the England squad but didn’t get a game. And, for the record, South Africa won by three runs.

From a Somerset point of view the result didn’t really matter. The winner today was Somerset CCC and an overflowing County Ground. Two jewels in the West Country Crown. And it showed. Whatever it was like to be in the midst of such a crowd, the match was a tremendous tv spectacle.

Somerset seem to have shown the Club can host an international as well as anyone. But the ground will need lights. Even on tv the light dipped quickly in the last twenty minutes or so. De Villiers didn’t see his catch. Jos Buttler looked like he might have had trouble seeing the ball that bowled him. It is probably as well the match was not a tie because the rules require a super over. That might have been a little embarrassing in the fast fading light.

Somerset CCC will stand taller in the English cricketing world today. Let us hope it gives the side a lift in the County Championship.

Result. South Africa 174 for 8 (20/20 overs). England 171 for 6 (20/20 overs). South Africa won by three runs.

This is an edited version of an original post which appeared on grockles.com shortly after the match.