THE saga of 1986, which saw Ian Botham, Viv Richards and Joel Garner leave Somerset in acrimonious circumstances, remains one of the most controversial and talked about periods in the club's long history.

Now a fresh perspective has been offered by Vic Marks, the former Somerset and England off-spinner turned Guardian journalist, in his new book Original Spin: Misadventures in Cricket.

An excerpt relating to the departures of the 'big three' was serialised in Sunday's Observer and it offers a fresh perspective as Marks, in his words, "was just about the only one talking to both parties, to no good effect".

Marks writes that, when told of the plan to recruit Martin Crowe and release Richards and Garner (and, inevitably by extension, Botham): "My immediate view, which did not change, was: 'In your shoes I would not do that'.

"Increasingly, the argument surfaced that the younger players struggled to perform because of Viv’s mighty, broody, overbearing presence.

"It was an argument that failed to convince me then, it does not convince me now nor did I find it vindicated soon after Viv had been sacked when the output of the players concerned was exactly the same."

Once the decision was made, "it became ugly. Very ugly. Viv and Joel were stunned, especially Viv, who had always had such an emotional tie with the club since 1974."

Marks continued: "The most poignant occasion was in the last Sunday League game of the summer against Derbyshire at Taunton on 14 September [...] the last game played by Viv, Joel and Ian for Somerset.

"We won by three wickets; Joel took one for 27, Viv made 55 and Ian 32. It wasn’t supposed to end like that."

The three have since improved relations with the club and the legacy of the trio is shown by the naming of the Sir Ian Botham Stand, the Sir Vivian Richards Gates and the Joel Garner Gates.

Garner was back in Taunton last week watching his native West Indies take on Bangladesh - click here. to read our interview with the legendary paceman.

To read the full extract from Marks' book, which is released on Thursday, click here.