After a so-so season in 2000, 2001 was anything but for Somerset. RICHARD BROWNE delves into the County Gazette archives to discover how the county ended its silverware drought after 18 years - and finished second in the County Championship for the first time...

THE first season of the Noughties had seen Somerset struggle without Andy Caddick and Marcus Trescothick, due to international commitments with England, while having to watch neighbours Gloucestershire seal a hat-trick of trophies in the one-day competitions.

The 2001 campaign was very different, with the four competitions won by four separate teams.

Somerset won the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy, while also finishing runners-up behind Yorkshire in Division 1 of the County Championship; Kent took the National League title; and Surrey were Benson & Hedges Cup champions.

There was also positive news off the field, with Somerset’s membership topping 7,000 for the first time since the glory days of the 1970s and 80s.

Resigned to being without Caddick and Trescothick for much of the next season as well, Somerset made two new signings: all-rounder Keith Dutch (who had been released by Middlesex) and fast bowler Richard Johnson (also from Middlesex).

They also pursued another Middlesex player, Mark Ramprakash, to fill the batting void left by Trescothick, but that bid ended in failure.

Kevin Shine took over as head coach, after Dermot Reeve departed, while ex-Royal Marine Andy Hurry was brought in to improve the players’ fitness.

Come April, Somerset did not start the season well, losing their County Championship opener at home to Lancashire, and then drawing with a Glamorgan side who were doomed to relegation.

(How valuable those dropped points could have been at the season’s end...)

A poor batting display (being bowled out for 204 and 170) and too many dropped catches cost them dearly in the innings defeat to Lancashire, but the return of Trescothick from England duty helped inspire an improved display in the rain-affected draw at Cardiff.

New boy Johnson was helping cover for the absent Caddick, meanwhile, as he claimed five-fers in both matches.

Somerset had failed to win a single match in the Benson & Hedges Cup in 2000, but the next year brought a vast improvement: six days, five matches, four wins.

A quarter-final spot was secured with a 108-run victory over the holders, Gloucestershire, as Trescothick shone with bat and ball.

The England man made 112 in the hosts’ 262-9 from 50 overs, and then claimed 3-30; Jason Kerr chipped in with 3-14 and the visitors were all out for 154.

Caddick was back with a vengeance as Somerset recorded their first four-day win of the season away to (eventual champions) Yorkshire in May.

The England man finished with match figures of 10-173 at Headingley, as the visitors won by 161 runs.

Mark Lathwell (65) top scored in Somerset’s 257, before Caddick (5-81) and Steffan Jones (3-37) dismissed the hosts for 231.

Piran Holloway (85) and captain Jamie Cox (80) inspired a second innings of 327, and Yorkshire fell well short of the 354 required, as Caddick (5-92) and Jones (4-91) again wreaked havoc.

That result took Somerset top of the table, but they would not win another Championship match until July - drawing four times and losing once (Ramprakash, who chose Surrey over Somerset, was man of the match in a six-wicket win).

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:

SKIPPER: Jamie Cox

There was frustration in the one-day competitions, too, as the Cidermen lost their first two matches in the National League and crashed out of the Benson & Hedges Cup.

Somerset had home advantage for their quarter-final with Yorkshire, but a crowd in excess of 5,000 witnessed an eight-wicket away win.

Despite scores of 62 from Cox and Peter Bowler, the hosts could only manage 210-7, and Michael Vaughan’s unbeaten 125 guided Yorkshire home.

June brought a series of draws in the Championship, but Somerset’s National League form began to pick up, and they opened their Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy campaign (the NatWest Trophy having been renamed) with a 50-run win away to Cambridgeshire.

Lathwell’s first ton in three years led the visitors to 271-9, and Jamie Grove took 4-36 to hinder the chase.

In July, home defeats to Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire saw Somerset slide into the National League Division 1 dropzone, but they ended their winless streak in the Championship thanks to an innings victory over Essex, who were doomed to finish bottom.

A seventh-wicket partnership of 222 between Dutch (118) and Rob Turner (115*) was the highlight of the hosts’ 415, and Johnson’s 4-43 helped hustle Essex out for 130.

Following on, Essex succumbed for 225, with Dutch taking 4-57.

Somerset also moved into the quarter-finals of the C&G Trophy, beating Glamorgan by seven wickets (Trescothick scoring 121 in his first match for the county since May), before facing an Australia side on their way to winning that year’s Ashes series.

Two Pakistan Test stars - Shoaib Akhtar and Aamir Sohail - were recruited for the match, but the world champions were comfortable winners at Taunton.

Centuries from Ricky Ponting (128), Justin Langer (104*) and Damien Martyn (176*) underlined their class, recovering from being reduced to 15-2 by Shoaib on the morning of the third day’s play.

Somerset went on from there to win their next three matches - easing past Lancashire and Glamorgan in the Championship, and defeating Kent in the C&G Trophy.

Mike Burns scored 71 to take Somerset to 263-8 at Canterbury, and that was 52 runs too many for the home side, with Keith Parsons claiming 3-38.

The innings victory over Glamorgan - Bowler and Ian Blackwell each scoring centuries in the hosts’ 600-8 - took Somerset to the Championship summit for 24 hours, but draws against Kent and Leicestershire allowed Yorkshire to build a 24-point lead at the top.

August 11 brought a semi-final clash with Warwickshire, with the winning side in Taunton going through to the C&G Trophy final.

Somerset restricted the visitors to 228-8, but were in real trouble as they slipped to 6-3 themselves.

Cox (47), Parsons (31) and Blackwell (30) rebuilt, taking their side to 130-6 in the 32nd over, at which point Turner was joined by Dutch.

They helped themselves to 100 runs off 87 balls, to secure a four-wicket win and prompt a pitch invasion.

Dutch finished with 61* and Turner 42*, and the latter said afterwards: “We needed 40 or so to win, and provided we didn’t lose a wicket we would win.

“Then Dutchy started to go into the red zone and take chances, and I had the choice of letting him go or trying to calm him down.

“He played his own way, which was exactly what we needed.”

Somerset then won four of their next five matches in the National League - including a one-run victory against Leicestershire! - to ease their relegation worries in that competition.

Leicestershire were again the opposition for their biggest match of the season, the C&G Trophy final at Lord’s, on September 1.

Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi looked like the biggest threat to Somerset, but Leicestershire were a powerful side all the way down, boasting the likes of Trevor Ward, Ben Smith, Vince Wells, Darren Maddy, Jimmy Ormond, Devon Malcolm and ex-Somerset wicketkeeper Neil Burns.

In bright sunshine and in front of a full house, Somerset won the toss and opted to bat; Trescothick and Bowler opened the batting, with Cox, Blackwell, Burns, Parsons, Turner, Dutch, Johnson, Caddick and Jones completing the order.

Trescothick went early, but Bowler (42) and Cox (44) steered Somerset to 107-1.

Leicestershire hit back, with Afridi claiming three quick wickets, and there was work to be done at 178-5 with 13 overs remaining.

Parsons (60*) and Turner (37*) duly upped the run rate, with what would prove to be a match-winning partnership of 95 off 82 balls.

Chasing 272 to win, Leicestershire lost Afridi for 20, but Ward (54) and Maddy (49) pushed on to reach 105-1 in 20 overs.

When Somerset needed a hero, local lad Parsons stepped up again, clean bowling Ward with a brilliant delivery - and that was the turning point.

No other Leicestershire batsman made it to 25, as Parsons (2-40), Dutch (2-50), Johnson (2-39) and Jones (3-40) struck regularly.

Jones bowled Scott Boswell to complete a 41-run victory and hand Somerset their first piece of silverware since 1983.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:

SILVERWARE: Rob Turner and Keith Parsons

Man of the match Parsons, who had tasted defeat in the final against Gloucestershire in 1999, said afterwards: “This time we were doubly determined and it was great to turn the result round.

“It was certainly an advantage to have been in the final a couple of years ago.

“The difference this time was that in 1999 we came to enjoy the day, whereas this year we came to win.”

He added: “Until now the fans have always harked back to the last time we won a trophy in 1983.

“Hopefully, now they’ll talk about 2001 and the year we won this trophy.

“It’s been a long time coming, but let’s hope we can now go on and win a few more.”

The Championship trophy remained out of reach, though, despite Somerset winning their last two matches in the competition.

Cox hit 186, his highest score of the season, as Essex were beaten inside three days, and Parsons smashed Mudhsuden (Monty) Panesar for six to seal victory over Northamptonshire.

Yorkshire won the title by 16 points in the end, but Somerset had the satisfaction of a first ever runners-up finish - and a £50,000 cheque for doing so.

Northants were their opponents for the final match of the season, too, as National League top flight survival was secured.

Burns hit 101* before Dutch took 3-38 and Blackwell 3-39, as the season - a contender for Somerset’s greatest ever - ended in winning fashion.

Somerset's results in 2001

Apr 20: CC - Somerset v Lancashire - lost by innings & 4 runs
Apr 26: CC - Glamorgan v Somerset - drawn
May 1: BHC - Glamorgan v Somerset - won by 6 wickets
May 2: BHC - Somerset v Warwickshire - lost by 4 wickets
May 4: BHC - Worcestershire v Somerset - won by 20 runs
May 5: BHC - Northamptonshire v Somerset - won by 8 wickets
May 7: BHC - Somerset v Gloucestershire - won by 108 runs
May 9: CC - Yorkshire v Somerset - won by 161 runs
May 13: NL - Yorkshire v Somerset - lost by 5 wickets
May 16: CC - Somerset v Kent - drawn
May 20: NL - Somerset v Kent - lost by 31 runs
May 23: BHC - Somerset v Yorkshire - lost by 8 wickets
May 30: CC - Leicestershire v Somerset - drawn
Jun 3: NL - Kent v Somerset - tied
Jun 6: CC - Surrey v Somerset - lost by 6 wickets
Jun 10: NL - Surrey v Somerset - won by 8 wickets
Jun 13: CC - Somerset v Yorkshire - drawn
Jun 17: NL - Somerset v Yorkshire - won by 15 runs
Jun 20: CC - Northamptonshire v Somerset - drawn
Jun 24: NL - Nottinghamshire v Somerset - lost by 6 wickets
Jun 27: CGT - Cambridgeshire v Somerset - won by 50 runs
Jul 1: NL - Somerset v Gloucestershire - lost by 8 runs
Jul 4: CC - Somerset v Essex - won by innings & 60 runs
Jul 8: NL - Somerset v Nottinghamshire - lost by 3 wickets
Jul 11: CGT - Somerset v Glamorgan - won by 7 wickets
Jul 13: TM - Somerset v Australia - lost by 176 runs
Jul 19: CC - Lancashire v Somerset - won by 10 wickets
Jul 25: CGT - Kent v Somerset - won by 52 runs
Jul 27: CC - Somerset v Glamorgan - won by innings & 67 runs
Aug 1: CC - Kent v Somerset - drawn
Aug 7: CC - Somerset v Leicestershire - drawn
Aug 11: CGT - Somerset v Warwickshire - won by 4 wickets
Aug 14: NL - Somerset v Leicestershire - won by one run
Aug 19: NL - Warwickshire v Somerset - lost by 10 wickets (D/L)
Aug 21: NL - Somerset v Surrey - won by 4 wickets
Aug 23: CC - Somerset v Surrey - drawn
Aug 27: NL - Leicestershire v Somerset - won by 10 runs
Aug 30: NL - Northamptonshire v Somerset - won by 70 runs (D/L)
Sep 1: CGT (final) - Somerset v Leicestershire - won by 41 runs
Sep 3: NL - Somerset v Warwickshire - lost by 8 wickets
Sep 5: CC - Essex v Somerset - won by 9 wickets
Sep 12: CC - Somerset v Northamptonshire - won by 4 wickets
Sep 16: NL - Somerset v Northamptonshire - won by 12 runs

BHC - Benson & Hedges Cup
CC - County Championship
CGT - Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy
NL - National League
TM - Tour match