THE 2005 season was a funny one for Somerset.

They finished second from bottom in the second tier of the County Championship, went out in the first round of the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy and hardly set the National League alight either.

But all those things mattered a whole lot less in the light of Somerset winning the Twenty20 Cup - the last piece of silverware they would claim until 2019 - and beating an Australian side preparing for that summer’s epic Ashes series.

Somerset’s struggles in the four-day game saw them win only four our of 16 Championship matches; Andy Caddick was by far their most dangerous bowler, taking 52 wickets at an average of 27.71, but he lacked consistent support.

Their first five Championship matches yielded three losses and two draws, before Northamptonshire were beaten by six wickets at the end of May.

Somerset went on to defeat Leicestershire (by 10 wickets), Derbyshire (five runs) and Essex (five wickets), but Derbyshire got their revenge in the final match of the season, claiming victory by an innings to leave a sour taste in Taunton.

The Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy - won by Somerset in 2001 - brought further disappointment, as Leicester won by three wickets at Grace Road.

Charl Willoughby, who would later join Somerset, claimed 6-16 as the visitors were dismissed for just 94.

In the National (‘Sunday’) League, five wins from their last six games pushed them up to sixth in Division 2 - an improvement on the last two years, but still six points shy of promotion back to the top flight.

Putting those disappointments to one side, Somerset fans were able to delight in their side’s T20 success - and a glorious 50-over victory against Australia.

June 15 brought the world champions to Taunton for a friendly match, in preparation for the Ashes series against Marcus Trescothick and his England comrades.

A Somerset win looked highly unlikely at the halfway stage, as Matthew Hayden (76), Ricky Ponting (80), Michael Clarke (63) and Mike Hussey (51) fired the tourists to an imposing total of 342-5.

The home side faced a bowling attack led by Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, but they had two international stars of their own.

A capacity crowd of 7,500 watched openers Graeme Smith (South Africa) and Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) put on 197, with Smith making 108 and Jayasuriya 101.

Even so, it looked like it might not be enough, as Somerset slipped from 231-2 to 291-6 - but then Somerset Academy pair Carl Gazzard and James Hildreth stepped up, and guided their side to victory with 19 balls to spare.

Somerset captain Smith said afterwards: “It’s pretty unbelievable to think that we’ve beaten Australia.

“It was great to see two of our youngsters, James Hildreth and Carl Gazzard come in and finish the game off for us.

“Hildy looks like a really good player and today will have matured him a great deal.”

For Australian captain Ponting, it was an unhappy return to the club where he had played with distinction the year before.

He commented: “What happened today wasn’t great, and I let the boys know it in the dressing room.

“It’s pretty embarrassing to end up on the losing side after we scored 340 runs, and it’s really disappointing that we were not able to defend that sort of total.”

For Somerset, the result brought only confidence as they began their Twenty20 Cup campaign that month.

Not that their passage to Finals Day at the Oval was easy, as three wins and three defeats left them needing to beat old rivals Gloucestershire on July 6 to ensure qualification from their group.

To the delight of the Taunton crowd, Somerset did just that, winning by 95 runs after setting a new Twenty20 record score of 228-5, with skipper Smith (53) and Ian Blackwell (45) leading the charge.

Gloucestershire made a fast start but collapsed to 133 all out, with Gareth Andrew taking 4-22 and Keith Parsons 3-12.

A quarter-final victory over Northamptonshire, by four wickets, meant that Somerset had their shot at glory on July 30.

In order to face the favourites, Lancashire, in the final, Somerset first had to defeat the holders, Leicestershire, in the semi-final.

The underdogs’ batsmen made a bright start, but then they faltered, and despite Gazzard’s quick-fire 26, 157-9 did not look like being enough.

Leicestershire raced to 88-1 and the outcome looked like a foregone conclusion, with Darren Maddy (56) hitting the ball to all parts.

But a blistering spell from Richard Johnson (3-21) turned the game on its head, and Somerset had a four-run victory.

Rain reduced the final to 15 overs per side, and the Somerset side (Smith, Trescothick, Matthew Wood, Blackwell, Hildreth, Parsons, Wes Durston, Gazzard, Johnson, Charl Langeveldt, Caddick) put in a brilliant fielding performance.

The crucial moment came when Andrew Flintoff skied a Caddick delivery, and Blackwell made the catch.

Chasing 115 to win, Smith’s 64* guided Somerset towards the target and Hildreth hit the winning runs - just as he would in the 2019 One-Day Cup final.

Following his last game for Somerset, Smith said: “It was a champion display and I haven’t really got the words for it.

“Our bowlers were superb, and pulled us through against Leicestershire and again in the final.

“The win has rounded off some very good memories of my time with Somerset.”