Just like in 2001, Somerset reached a Lord’s final in 2002. This time they were on the losing side, though, and that disappointment was compounded by top flight relegation in two other competitions, including the County Championship. RICHARD BROWNE looks back...

SOMERSET’S topsy-turvy start to the Noughties continued in 2002.

After a disappointing 2000 season, the club had one of its best ever campaigns in 2001, but could not build on that the following year.

With injuries to key men compounded by the loss of Ian Blackwell, Andy Caddick and Marcus Trescothick to England call-ups, Somerset were relegated in both the County Championship and National League.

They did reach Lord’s again, but whereas 2001 had brought triumph, 2002 saw them beaten by Yorkshire in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy final.

Over the winter, Somerset had made an offer to ex-Leicestershire bowler Jimmy Ormond, but he chose Surrey instead.

Jason Kerr, meanwhile, departed for Derbyshire after failing to nail down a 1st XI spot - but injury would soon end his playing career and prompt his switch to coaching.

Then Mark Lathwell quit First Class cricket on the eve of the season, saying: “The club is overstaffed and I could not see a way of playing First Class cricket, which I found an increasing strain to play in anyway,” he said.

“Rather than sit out my contract [which had 18 months still to run], it seemed to make sense to start thinking ahead about a career outside playing professional cricket.”

Even so, Jamie Cox was in optimistic mood going into the 2002 campaign, saying: “The talent is certainly available in our group to achieve what many other clubs can only hope for.

“It certainly inspires me to think that I may be remembered as part of Somerset’s first championship-winning team!”

Unfortunately it was not to be. Somerset opened the season with a draw away to Sussex, but lost Steffan Jones to a hamstring injury, and without the fast bowler they lost four out of five Benson & Hedges Cup group games.

They suffered their heaviest ever defeat in the competition at home to Northamptonshire, by 145 runs, and there was another hamstring injury for a pace bowler - this time Richard Johnson.

This was the last ever staging of the cup, as it was wound up in favour of a new competition - the Twenty20 Cup - in 2003.

England star Caddick was back for the visit of 2001 Championship winners Yorkshire, and he claimed 5-72 in the away side’s first innings.

Blackwell blasted 114 to rescue his side from 26-4, and set a target of 262 to win, Trescothick - now sharing captaincy duties with Cox - scored 132 to lead his side to a seven-wicket victory.

Little did Somerset fans know it at the time, but that would be their side’s only four-day win of 2002.

Draws with Leicestershire and Surrey followed, while the National League campaign opened in dire fashion.

Darren Lehmann scored 104 in Yorkshire’s 307-4, Cox replied with 99, but Somerset finished a run short.

If that match was agonisingly close, the next was anything but - Worcestershire recording a 127-run victory.

The end of May saw Somerset begin the defence of the C&G Trophy, winning by 87 runs away to Yorkshire Cricket Board.

Peter Bowler hit 104, and the hosts were never likely to reach the 256 runs required, Keith Dutch taking 3-26 and Matt Bulbeck 2-16.

Three wins in a row soon followed, as Keith Parsons took 3-29 and made 59* to secure a maiden National League win of the season, and Trescothick smashed 133 to see off Hampshire in the C&G Trophy.

The third win in the sequence came against Sri Lanka in a 50-over match, with Mike Burns cracking 63 in a 63-run victory.

That fine run ended away to Warwickshire in the Championship, with Cox sidelined by a broken thumb and Johnson limping off with another hamstring injury.

July was a poor month for Somerset, with two heavy defeats in the National League and no wins in the Championship - two draws and an innings defeat at home to Sussex.

The one bright spot was a four-wicket win over Worcestershire that sent them into the C&G Trophy semi-finals.

Parsons was the man of the moment once again, in front of a 5,500-strong crowd at Taunton; the hometown favourite scored 121, took two wickets and two catches, and also made one run-out.

The injury list was lengthening, though, with Trescothick set to miss six weeks with a broken thumb, and Simon Francis also out, with a broken finger.

They missed what Somerset coach Kevin Shine termed “a brilliant game of cricket”, as a touring West Indies A side were held to a thrilling draw.

Bulbeck took 5-47 and debutant Arul Suppiah 3-46 with the ball, but still Somerset faced an improbable 454 to win on the final day.

Piran Holloway made 88 before young Weston-super-Mare all-rounder Peter Trego blazed his way to 140 (his maiden First Class ton).

Graham Rose faced the final ball of the match with the scores level, but he was caught off the bowling of Chris Gayle to leave the sides all square.

Despite Somerset’s injury woes, the first week of August was a good one, as it brought wins over Kent and Glamorgan.

Kent provided the opposition for a home C&G Trophy semi-final, and the hosts opened up with 344-5 from their 50 overs, of which 194 came from the final 20 overs.

Bowler (70) and Burns (72) built a fine second-wicket partnership, before Blackwell bludgeoned his way to 86 off 53 balls and Parsons added a quick 32.

Kent flew to 100 without loss, only for Parsons and Jones to reduce them to 122-3.

The visitors required 130 from the last 20 overs, and it looked likely until Parsons (4-55) was reintroduced, taking two wickets in the space of four balls.

A superb run-out from Francis followed, but Kent still only needed seven runs from their last eight balls, with two wickets in hand.

Yet Bulbeck clean bowled David Masters, Dutch caught Mark Ealham off Jones’ bowling, and the home side had snatched a five-run win from the jaws of defeat.

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News:

BIG SCORE: Somerset's Ian Blackwell

An emphatic National League win over Glamorgan boosted their survival hopes in that competition, but the rest of August was dire: nine games, one draw, eight defeats.

Kent cruised to a 153-run Championship victory, leaving Shine to target three wins from the last six games to avoid relegation.

That became three from four after a four-wicket loss at Hampshire and then a draw with Warwickshire, sandwiched between three comprehensive defeats in the National League.

Two of those were back-to-back against fellow strugglers Nottinghamshire, and losing both meant that relegation was all but confirmed.

Caddick and Johnson were both back for the crunch four-day match away to Lancashire, and ended it with eight wickets apiece.

Somerset’s batting left a lot to be desired, however, being skittled for 71 - their lowest total since 1975 - to lose by 336 runs.

Somerset had to pick themselves up from that battering to prepare for a return to Lord’s, where they faced Yorkshire in the C&G Trophy final on August 31.

The Somerset line-up - Bowler, Trescothick, Cox, Burns, Blackwell, Parsons, Rob Turner, Johnson, Dutch, Caddick and Jones - was the same as 12 months previously, but the result was not.

Electing to bat first, Somerset gave a good account of themselves on a difficult pitch, with Bowler (67) and Trescothick (27) opening well, before the latter fell to a spectacular catch from Michael Vaughan.

Matthew Hoggard claimed 5-65, but with Cox (34), Burns (21), Parsons (41) and Turner (20) all posting decent scores, Somerset could be content with a total of 256-8.

That target looked all the more demanding when Johnson ripped through Yorkshire’s opening batsmen, leaving them 64-3 and finishing with 3-51 from 10 overs.

But Somerset had reckoned without Yorkshire’s overseas player Matthew Elliott; the Australian plundered 128* to inspire his side to a six-wicket victory, with two overs to spare.

Denied back-to-back titles, Cox reflected: “We are bitterly disappointed because today was the basket that we put all of our eggs in, and we lost.”

All-rounder Burns added: “We can hold our heads up high, because on the day we played well.

“A few lbw decisions could have gone either way, and we were on the receiving end of a good innings from Matt Elliott which made all the difference.”

Somerset then lost Blackwell to an England call-up (in place of the injured Andrew Flintoff) and their bad week got worse when they lost at Durham, condemning them to National League relegation, before a rain-affected draw with Kent meant that their County Championship Division 1 status was all but gone, too.

Their fate was confirmed at Grace Road, losing by an innings against Leicestershire.

After the defeat, inside two days, Shine said: “We are as disappointed as you can be by this situation because it is the end of three years of Division 1 Championship cricket for us and we don’t like it.

“Today the momentum just went against us and we capitulated quite quickly.

“The boys are as down as I have ever seen them, because after three years in the top flight they are a better side than they ever have been.”

Strange as that last statement may seem, in reference to a relegated side, it had been a strange season.

Somerset did what they failed to do in 2001 and finished above Yorkshire, but the previous season’s Championship winners ended this campaign bottom of the pile, while also going unbeaten against 2002 champions Surrey (drawing twice).

They were unbeaten in their first five Championship matches, too, but ultimately they lost six of their last eight, and that was to prove fatal.

Somerset's results in 2002

Apr 24: CC - Sussex v Somerset - drawn

Apr 28: BHC - Warwickshire v Somerset - lost by 72 runs (D/L)

Apr 30: BHC - Somerset v Glamorgan - abandoned

May 3: BHC - Somerset v Northamptonshire - lost by 145 runs

May 5: BHC - Gloucestershire v Somerset - lost by 39 runs

May 6: BHC - Somerset v Worcestershire - lost by 7 wickets (D/L)

May 8: CC - Somerset v Yorkshire - won by 7 wickets

May 12: NL - Somerset v Yorkshire - lost by 1 run

May 15: CC - Somerset v Leicestershire - drawn

May 19: NL - Worcestershire v Somerset - lost by 127 runs

May 24: CC - Surrey v Somerset - drawn

May 29: CGT - Yorkshire Cricket Board v Somerset - won by 87 runs

Jun 9: NL - Warwickshire v Somerset - abandoned

Jun 12: CC - Somerset v Hampshire - drawn

Jun 16: NL - Somerset v Leicestershire - won by 7 wickets

Jun 19: CGT - Somerset v Hampshire - won by 6 wickets

Jun 21: TM - Somerset v Sri Lanka - won by 63 runs

Jun 26: CC - Warwickshire v Somerset - lost by 88 runs

Jun 30: NL - Somerset v Glamorgan - lost by 1 wicket (D/L)

Jul 3: CC - Somerset v Surrey - drawn

Jul 7: NL - Somerset v Worcestershire - lost by 8 wickets

Jul 10: CC - Yorkshire v Somerset - drawn

Jul 14: NL - Yorkshire v Somerset - lost by 135 runs

Jul 17: CGT - Somerset v Worcestershire - won by 4 wickets

Jul 19: CC - Somerset v Sussex - lost by innings & 1 run

Jul 24: TM - Somerset v West Indies A - tied

Aug 1: CGT - Somerset v Kent - won by 5 runs

Aug 3: NL - Glamorgan v Somerset - won by 107 runs (D/L)

Aug 7: CC - Kent v Somerset - lost by 153 runs

Aug 11: NL - Kent v Somerset - lost by 126 runs

Aug 14: CC - Hampshire v Somerset - lost by 4 wickets

Aug 18: NL - Nottinghamshire v Somerset - lost by 69 runs

Aug 19: NL - Somerset v Nottinghamshire - lost by 59 runs

Aug 21: CC - Somerset v Warwickshire - drawn

Aug 25: NL - Somerset v Warwickshire - lost by 8 wickets

Aug 27: CC - Lancashire v Somerset - lost by 336 runs

Aug 31: CGT (final) - Somerset v Yorkshire - lost by 6 wickets

Sep 2: NL - Durham v Somerset - lost by 6 wickets

Sep 4: CC - Somerset v Kent - drawn

Sep 8: NL - Somerset v Kent - won by 118 runs

Sep 11: NL - Leicestershire v Somerset - won by 3 wickets

Sep 12: CC - Leicestershire v Somerset - lost by innings & 18 runs

Sep 18: CC - Somerset v Lancashire - lost by 8 wickets

Sep 22: NL - Somerset v Durham - won by 175 runs

BHC - Benson & Hedges Cup

CC - County Championship

CGT - Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy

NL - National League

TM - Tourist match