Whether remembered fondly on a warm summer evening, or thought of as bitter as a winter night, this season will certainly take its place in the memory of Somerset cricket.
Come the afternoon of the final day of the season, it was all in Somerset’s hands. They were watching on – feet up after coasting past Nottinghamshire in three days – as Middlesex and Yorkshire looked destined for a draw.
Had this been at any other point of the season, that would have certainly been the outcome. But watching action unfold at Lord’s left a sour taste as their two title rivals slogged – the operative word – out a game of ‘can you give me a catch better than I can bowl a six-hitting pie?’. The grumbles at Taunton were almost audible.
It would have been a first County Championship title for Somerset in their 141-year history. To put it another way, it was one of the best season performances their four-day game has seen.
For those in the west, the four-day season was nothing short of astounding. Draws plagued early-season progress, but the first win was to come in some style, recovering from a first-innings 102 to beat Surrey by one wicket, the last two wickets putting on 64 runs.
Misfortune meant their first defeat was to come in equally-entertaining fashion, Middlesex chasing 302 within 46 overs courtesy of six-hitting heroics from John Simpson.
It was to be the only defeat of the season in four-day cricket for Matt Maynard’s side with, you sensed, a point to prove from those vying to make history.
They were to fightback immediately, defeating Nottingamshire by ten wickets before the break, with Durham then feeling the force. Draws with Hampshire and Lancashire were to be the only blemish.
You wondered how Somerset could keep going, but they did so in mighty fashion. Another result came despite sheer adversity, bowled out by Warwickshire for 95 to win, following that with a ten-wicket demolition of Yorkshire, back-to-back champions, in their own back yard.
Still their bid kept going, reliant on results – or perhaps a lack of – elsewhere, but hosting the already-relegated Nottinghamshire gave more hope. But alas, it wasn’t to be.
As was to expected with such a dedicated four-day assault, the limited-overs competitions fell by the wayside.
Just three wins from their 14 Natwest T20 Blast meant qualification was never really a consideration for Jim Allenby and his side, finishing bottom of the South Group by three points, with at least four more victories required for a top-four spot.
But those at Taunton showed just how remarkable the difference between 20- and 50-over cricket, topping their division in the latter with just one defeat toe their name.
Clearing the opposition by three points, that number again, Somerset kept up their imperious form with Worcestershire on the end of a nine-wicket barrage, but the semi-finals proved just a step too far.
Eventual competition winners Warwickshire prevailed by eight runs as Jeetan Patel, who returned to international duty following the season, spun the hosts to victory at Edgbaston with five wickets.
Player of the Season: Jack Leach
Few around the shires had even heard of Jack Leach before the season began, but bu the time the final stumps were drawn, many were left wondering just how he didn’t get a trip to Bangladesh.
His skipper Chris Rogers believes more time is still needed, but a tally of 65 Championship wickets was bettered only by Jeetan Patel, himself earning the international call.
At an average just a shade beyond 20, the 25-year-old spinned Somerset to victory on many on occasion, with Hampshire and Yorkshire both on the end of six-fers late in the season.
Breakthrough Player: Dom Bess
County cricket’s very own answer to R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja needed its second prong, and Dom Bess delivered like no other.
This year saw a Championship debut for the 19-year-old, spinning six-fer in his first game against Warwickshire as 21 scalps fell in the day. More wickets were to be his against Nottinghamshire – a second five-wicket haul in too matches, with his first-class average of 20.30 ruined by an empty debut against Pakistan last year.
There is still plenty more to come from this youngster.
Could have done better: Jim Allenby
Picking a weak link in this Somerset side is almost like an Englishman picking his least-favourite Ashes 2005 winner – they all played their part even if unnoticed.
Jim Allenby’s move from Glamorgan to the Cidermen has far from been an easy transition, and while his white-ball form improved, a Championship batting average of 26.23 will surely disappoint him.
The 34-year-old at times also opened the batting and bowling and captained the same match, top-scoring in the runs in both limited-overs competitions, with just one format his weakness this term.
Leading run-scorers: SSCC: Marcus Trescothick – 1239 @ 51.62; T20 Blast: Jim Allenby – 328 – SR: 117.14; RLODC: Jim Allenby – 423 @ 42.30
Leading wicket-takers: SSCC: Jack Leach – 65 @ 21.87; T20 Blast: Jamie Overton – 14 – Econ: 9.30; RLODC: Lewis Gregory – 17 – Econ: 5.69
Win %: 40%
Life without Chris Rogers now awaits Somerset, with one of cricket’s longest servants hanging up his spikes this winter. The evergreen Marcus Trescothick continues to defy, however, with the man with the most Championship runs over the past three years not even looking close to finishing just yet.
So close, so far, but boy didn’t they look good doing it? The batting track subsided, the spinners came into their own and it so very nearly worked for county cricket’s perennial nearly men.