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1986 And All That

Out of the mists of time, almost like a message from beyond, an extraordinary fact has emerged: amongst Peter’s papers was a secret from long, long ago. It was a diary. A highly personal account he had kept of the infamous events of what was called “The Somerset Affair”, which divided opinion as nothing before or since in county cricket.

The origin of the schism between Peter and his boyhood friend and one time fellow youth player at Somerset CCC, Ian Botham, came about when the Committee of their club decided to let the legendary Vivian Richards and Joel Garner go, in the twilight of their careers and after a season in which the club ended second bottom of the league.

The infamous Extraordinary Meeting was held on 8th November 1986 and a quarter of a century later, almost to the very day, Peter died in mysterious and still unexplained circumstances on 12 November 2011. Few who know the story could doubt the causal connection between the two events.

Perhaps not so widely known, but attested to in the diary, Peter had not played any part in the fateful decision, but was informed of it by the Committee. In that act, which has remained unexplained, the Committee put Peter in an impossible position. He was privy to a decision he had not made, albeit he agreed with, but had to captain a team he could not tell.

For a man of such honour, this was unbearable. Sworn to secrecy, how could he play with and alongside players he knew and was loyal to, but who he knew and regretted were to be let go? This was not Peter’s fault, but the Committee’s. However, it was Peter who was blamed and eviscerated by those who called themselves the ‘rebels’.

As the 30th anniversary of The Somerset Affair is only days away, the Diary is now reproduced in full in its original form below. It has clearly been typed up for Peter, as his own typing skills were somewhat short of perfection. However, Peter’s handwritten amendments can be seen on it throughout and so now the truth can finally be told.