GLAMORGAN County Cricket Club is the only Welsh first-class cricket club, representing the historic county of Glamorgan and based in Wales’s capital city, Cardiff, on the bank of the River Taff.
They have won the English County Championship competition in 1948, 1969 and 1997 and have also beaten international teams from all of the Test-playing nations, including Australia who they defeated in successive tours in 1964 and 1968.
As well as producing its own crop of home-grown talent, Glamorgan has attracted a staggering array of some of the world’s finest overseas cricketers to play for them since the late 1960s.
In 1969, when Glamorgan won the County Championship, they had the services of Pakistani Majid Khan as well as West Indian Bryan Davis.
When the Welsh county won the Sunday League in 1993, Viv Richards – the great West Indian – was their overseas player, whilst in 1997 Pakistani fast bowler Waqar Younis played a leading role in clinching another Championship title.
Marnus Labuschagne, Matthew Elliott, Jason Gillespie, Shaun Tait and Michael Kasprowicz are among the top Australians to have worn the daffodil emblem, while West Indians Ottis Gibson, Darren Sammy, Collis King, Roy Fredericks and Ezra Moseley have all excited Welsh crowds.
Other favourites included Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri, both captains of the India Test team, Pakistan’s Javed Miandad and Younis Ahmed, South African Test aces Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis, along with New Zealanders Brendon McCullum and James Franklin.
Big-name overseas players even appeared in club cricket in Wales, including West Indians Richie Richardson and Linton Lewis, who each played with great success in the South Wales Cricket Association, whilst South Africa’s Andre Nel had a successful time playing for Colwyn Bay in north Wales.
Cricket first made its mark in Wales way back in the 1890s when Glamorgan developed from a third-class county into a Minor County side. The man responsible for this transformation was Jack Brain – a member of the famous brewing family who owned the Old Brewery in Cardiff.
Brain had previously played with success for Gloucestershire but during the late 1880s he moved to South Wales, before taking over as captain and secretary of Glamorgan CCC in 1891.
As befitted someone from the world of commerce, Brain brought a more business-like approach to the affairs of Glamorgan CCC and by using his contacts in the sporting and business world, he was able to secure the services of better players, including several professionals who had previously played for English counties.
Brain was adamant that Glamorgan should have a visible Welsh identity and he was instrumental in the appointment of Billy Bancroft – the Welsh rugby international – as Glamorgan’s first-ever full-time professional in 1895. It was therefore very fitting that the talented all-round sportsman from Swansea should shine with both bat and ball as Glamorgan entered the Minor County Championship in 1897.
A measure of Glamorgan’s progress came in 1900 when they were joint winners of the Minor County Championship. Their success fueled the ambition of the Welsh officials who duly began a campaign both for first-class and international cricket to come to south Wales.
Improvements took place to the facilities at the Arms Park, including the construction of a lavish pavilion, whilst an approach was made to the MCC for Glamorgan to host the first Test of the 1905 series with Australia. Glamorgan missed out by one vote, but they secured a three-day fixture in August with the cricketers from the southern hemisphere who met a South Wales XI as Glamorgan combined forces with Monmouthshire.
The 1900s saw Glamorgan enjoy further success on the field as on three further occasions they were runners-up in the Minor Counties competition and, allied with the emergence of players like Norman Riches, a dentist from Cardiff, and Tom Whittington, a solicitor from Neath, this led to the start of a campaign for Glamorgan to be elevated into first-class cricket.
The following decade saw Glamorgan’s players – both amateurs and professionals – enjoy further success in the Minor County Championship, with Norman Riches in 1911 becoming the first batsman in the history of the competition to score over 1,000 runs in a season.
This helped to further fuel Glamorgan’s campaign for first-class cricket, but their bid for elevation into the County Championship was dealt a series of blows – firstly, by a slump in the local economy leading to uncertainty about the size of the financial support required for regular county cricket.
But a second and greater blow came in 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War. The hostilities led to the cancellation of fixtures at the end of the season, as well as the cessation of games for the next four years. However, the most substantial blow to Glamorgan CCC was the loss of life during the bloody hostilities.
A generation of emerging cricketing talent gave their lives to King and country, with amongst those to die Archer Windsor-Clive, the son of the Earl of Plymouth, and the President of Glamorgan CCC who was tipped as a future captain of the Welsh county. Many of those who were fortunate to come home were also mentally scarred by the horrors of war and Dyson Williams of Swansea CC, who also served as Glamorgan’s treasurer, suffered so much from depression that he took his life in the early 1920s.
Nevertheless, there was a great mood of optimism in south Wales as a whole as Glamorgan resumed in 1920 in the Minor County Championship. During the summer, the campaign for elevation into first-class cricket was successfully resurrected, and enough fixtures were secured with existing teams in the County Championship for Glamorgan to be awarded first-class status for 1921.
On May 18, 1921, Glamorgan played their first match in the County Championship, against Sussex at the Arms Park, and to the delight of all concerned, the Welsh county defeated their English opponents. But the club’s dream of first-class status rapidly turned into a nightmare as Glamorgan encountered a series of difficult seasons during the 1920s. There were, though, a few rays of sunshine starting in 1921 when Billy Spiller struck the club’s first hundred in Championship cricket.
In 1923 Glamorgan defeated the West Indians at the Arms Park, whilst at the end of the 1927 season, they achieved an astonishing victory at Swansea to prevent Nottinghamshire from clinching the county title. However, for most of the decade Glamorgan remained towards the foot of the County Championship table, and only in 1926 did they finish in the top half.
Thirteen matches were lost in succession in 1925, and on many occasions just achieving a draw was a major feat. With their financial reserves remaining shaky, they were unable to hire top-class professionals from English counties and they largely relied on local amateur talent, augmented by cast-offs from other teams.
Many of the acquisitions struggled after joining the Welsh county, but there were a couple of very notable acquisitions. Jack Mercer, the jovial seam and swing bowler who moved to south Wales from Sussex in the early 1920s and duly became the lynchpin of the Glamorgan attack, as well as Frank Ryan, the garrulous left-arm spin bowler, whose subtle crafts with the ball outweighed his fiery temper and ferocious thirst. The maverick bowler formed a fine spin combination with Johnnie Clay, an amateur from Chepstow, who had switched from being a tearaway pace bowler into a canny off-spinner.
Several other Welsh-born players established a first-team place, including Dai and Emrys Davies from Llanelli, Cyril Walters from Neath, as well as Maurice Turnbull from Cardiff, who duly went on to turn around the fortunes of the team during the 1930s.
At the end of the 1931 season, the club’s deficit was so severe that many professionals had to be released as a cash-saving measure, and when the finances failed to pick up again the following summer, the committee discussed whether or not the club should continue.
Turnbull and Clay were adamant that Glamorgan should remain as a first-class county, so the club’s captain and secretary duly led a major fund-raising campaign, drawing on their business contacts throughout south Wales. Both men realised that one answer to Glamorgan’s woes was a sharper and more evident Welsh identity, so in 1933 the daffodil emblem was introduced, whilst encouragement was also given to nurturing home-grown talent. To boost their Welsh identity, Glamorgan played at a number of new grounds across south Wales. Pontypridd had been added to the fixture list in the 1920s, and during the 1930s, Glamorgan duly played County Championship cricket at Neath, Cowbridge, Llanelli and Newport.
Investments were also made in the practice facilities at the Arms Park, whilst a coach was hired to help groom the new generation of Glamorgan cricketers. In 1934, Glamorgan also merged with Monmouthshire, allowing Glamorgan 2nd XI to field a team in the Minor County Championship and for youngsters such as wicketkeeper Haydn Davies, batsman Willie Jones and off-spinner Closs Jones to gain valuable experience. The merger also extended the pool of talent available to the Glamorgan selectors, and the likes of Phil Clift and Allan Watkins, both of Usk CC, duly won a place in the Glamorgan side.
The 1930s had begun with Turnbull making his England debut during the MCC tour to New Zealand, and in 1935 great pal Clay followed in his footsteps by playing against South Africa. Two years later, Austin Matthews also won an England cap, just a fortnight after the Penarth-born seam bowler had switched from Northamptonshire to Glamorgan, whilst in 1939 Emrys Davies scored a club record unbeaten 287 against Gloucestershire at Newport and was chosen in the MCC party for the winter tour.
Jack Mercer wrote his name into the club’s record books by taking all 10 wickets in an innings at Worcester in 1936, whilst the following summer Clay also enjoyed a superb season as the spinner claimed a club record of 176 wickets.
With Glamorgan also rising up to seventh place in the table, it was a worthy reward for all of the hard work and fund-raising in turning a debt-ridden club into a profit-making one with a bright and rosy future.
The outbreak of the Second World War brought an abrupt end to Glamorgan’s upward rise. It also, quite tragically, brought an end to the career of Maurice Turnbull – the man who had overseen the survival of the club during the 1930s and its transformation into a viable playing unit. He had signed off in typical fashion in the closing match of the 1939 season by scoring a century, but five years later, shortly after the Normandy Invasion he was killed in the small French town of Montchamp as he was leading a counter-attack by the Welsh guards on an advancing column of German tanks.
The news of the death of the influential and charismatic Glamorgan leader looked like dealing Glamorgan a crippling blow, but Johnnie Clay was determined that his old pal’s work in the 1930s would not be in vain, and in 1946 the veteran spinner agreed to lead the club when county cricket resumed, besides grooming a new leader to follow in Maurice’s shoes.
His choice was Wilf Wooller, another former Welsh rugby international who had spent much of the war as a POW in the Far East. Wooller had played for Glamorgan in 1938 and 1939 and was looking for a new challenge. He duly took over the captaincy in 1947 and the following summer – to the dismay of many of the English press – the colossus of a Welsh sportsman led Glamorgan to their first-ever County Championship title. Wilf had overseen some shrewd acquisitions such as spinner Len Muncer and seamer Norman Hever, whilst Gilbert Parkhouse from Swansea developed into a top-class middle-order batsman.
Allan Watkins also played a leading role with both bat and ball, and his all-round abilities led to an England call-up as the Usk-born cricketer duly became the first Glamorgan player to appear in an Ashes Test match. His call-up by England left a potential hole in the Glamorgan side as they pressed for the county title. But Wilf had the trump card up his sleeve as he recalled Clay to the side in August, with the evergreen spinner bowling his side to victory over Surrey at the Arms Park and leaving Glamorgan needing just one more victory to clinch the title. It was therefore very fitting that in the next game, against Hampshire at Bournemouth, Clay should take the final wicket as Glamorgan secured the victory they needed to become County champions for the first-ever time in the club’s history.
A number of young players were successfully integrated into the team as older members retired, and the Welsh county, through the dynamic and fierce leadership of Wooller, maintained their reputation as one of the country’s finest fielding teams.
Indeed, their superb close-to-the-wicket fielding led to a number of victories, especially their thrilling victory over the 1951 Springboks at Swansea, as Allan Watkins, Phil Clift, Jim Pleass and Wooller himself all excelled in the leg-trap as the tourists dramatically collapsed to give the Welsh county a stirring victory.
Jim McConnon was another star of the victory over the 1951 Springboks and the tall off-spinner subsequently won a place in the England side. Gilbert Parkhouse also progressed from the county side into the Test team, whilst Allan Watkins continued to be chosen for the English side and provide yeoman service as a senior professional on overseas tours.
Following the retirement of Emrys Davies and Willie Jones, a number of new batsmen emerged, including Tony Lewis from Neath and Alan Jones from Clydach.
Another new face to emerge during the 1950s was Don Shepherd. The Gower-born cricketer had started his Glamorgan career as a pace bowler but in the mid-1950s, after advice from senior players, including wicketkeeper Haydn Davies, he switched to off-cutters. The change was nothing short of sensational as in his first season in this new mode, ‘Shep’ claimed 156 wickets and, together with Alan Jones and Tony Lewis, he went on to play a major role in the success of Glamorgan during the following decade.
The 1960s were arguably one of the most successful decades in the history of Glamorgan CCC, as the Welsh team won the County Championship again in 1969, besides inflicting back-to-back victories over the Australian tourists in 1964 and 1968. All of these three great victories were achieved under different captains – Tony Lewis, Ossie Wheatley and Don Shepherd – but Wooller remained the guiding force having retired as a player at the end of the 1960 season to become the club’s secretary.
On the field, Wheatley took over from Wooller and inherited a side with some well-established players including Bernard Hedges, Peter Walker and Alan Jones, as well as emerging talent such as left-arm fast bowler Jeff Jones who – like Peter – also went on to represent England. Jim Pressdee also formed a fine spin bowling combination with Don Shepherd, and the victory over the 1964 Australians at Swansea bore testament to their abilities, as well as the outstanding close-to-the-wicket fielding of the Glamorgan side. Indeed, Walker was the best short-leg fielder on the county circuit, whilst on the batting front Jones was one of the most consistent openers in the country.
When Australia visited Swansea again in 1968, Tony Lewis was unable to play so Shepherd stepped into his shoes and, with all his guile and cunning, led Glamorgan to another thrilling victory over the men in baggy green caps at the St Helen’s ground as, for the second time in four years, the ground was then engulfed by joyous Welshmen eager to celebrate with the Glamorgan team after another iconic moment in Welsh sport.
The year before, Glamorgan had played for the first time at their new ground in Cardiff following the redevelopment of the Arms Park and the creation of the National Stadium. The final county match took place at the Arms Park in August 1966 before Glamorgan moved a mile or so to the north-west to Sophia Gardens where they met the 1967 Indians in the opening match at their new ground.
It was at Sophia Gardens in September 1969 where Glamorgan clinched the Championship title for the second time in their history with a victory over Worcestershire. This was a match where Majid Khan, their overseas star from Pakistan, played a decisive innings on a capricious wicket, before deputising behind the stumps for the injured Eifion Jones as Shepherd claimed the final Worcestershire wicket and Tony Lewis’s team once again celebrated outstanding success.
After their successes of the previous decade, there were high hopes for Glamorgan in the 1970s. Lewis’s team duly ended the 1970 season as runners-up, whilst during the summer Alan Jones played for England at Lord’s in a series against the Rest of the World. In 1972, the West Indian batsman Roy Fredericks made a huge impact and shared a club record opening stand of 330 with Jones against Northamptonshire at Swansea, whilst at the end of the summer skipper Lewis was appointed captain of the England side for what proved to be a successful winter tour of India and Pakistan.
A rebuilding process saw a number of young and home-grown cricketers being integrated into the Glamorgan team for both the Championship and one-day matches. as the short-form of the game took off during the 1970s. Following the successful introduction of the Gillette Cup in 1963, the John Player Sunday League was inaugurated in 1969, followed by the Benson and Hedges Cup in 1972.
Several Glamorgan players shone in these limited-overs games, including Malcolm Nash, the left-arm swinger who proved to be amongst the frugal opening bowlers on the county circuit. In 1973, Swansea also hosted the first one-day international in Wales as England met New Zealand at the St Helen’s ground. A full house saw Warwickshire’s Dennis Amiss score a century before Sussex’s John Snow helped to bowl England to victory.
Four years later, the same ground also witnessed a thrilling semi-final game in the Gillette Cup as Glamorgan met Leicestershire. Up until that season, Glamorgan’s form in one-day cricket had been quite patchy, but in 1977, under the captaincy of Alan Jones, they reached the final of the Gillette Cup after defeating the East Midlands side at Swansea.
Middlesex were Glamorgan’s opponents in the final of the 1977 Gillette Cup at Lord’s, and after losing the toss, the Welsh batsmen struggled at first in the damp conditions. Mike Llewellyn led a spirited recovery and during the course of his innings almost struck spinner John Emburey over the roof of the famous pavilion. Nash then struck with his opening delivery but a vital catch was later dropped as Clive Radley guided Middlesex to a comfortable victory to spoil the romantic dreams of the travelling band of Welsh supporters.
A number of top-class international cricketers would don the Glamorgan sweater in ensuing summers, including the talented Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri, West Indian pace bowlers Ezra Moseley and Winston Davis, plus gifted Pakistani batsman Javed Miandad.
In 1981, the latter scored over 2,000 runs in the season and struck a series of brilliant double hundreds, but Javed enjoyed perhaps his finest hour in Glamorgan colours during an astonishing match against the 1985 Australians at Neath as, together with fellow countryman Younis Ahmed, they shared a record and unbeaten 306 for the fourth wicket against the touring team.
Neath was one of the out-grounds which Glamorgan revisited during this period as they once again took county cricket to venues such as Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil, Aberystwyth, Abergavenny and Llanelli. Annual visits to north Wales were also re-introduced as the Rhos-on-Sea ground in Colwyn Bay returned to the county’s fixture list, whilst the club’s Centenary Year was also launched in July 1987 with a special match against Gloucestershire attended by their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
During this decade, Rodney Ontong developed into an outstanding all-rounder, and in the match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1985 he completed one of the greatest all-round performances for the club, scoring a glittering century and taking 13 wickets in the game.
The 1980s also saw new home-grown talent emerge with Hugh Morris developing as a brave and determined opening batsman, whilst in 1985 Matthew Maynard burst onto the county circuit with a brilliant hundred on his first-class debut. Steve Watkin also developed into a top-class seam bowler, and together with Morris and Maynard, he went on to win England honours. Tony Cottey, Adrian Dale, Robert Croft and Steve Barwick also emerged during this decade as the nucleus of a new and successful team was forged.
With home-grown youngsters emerging in the side, augmented by some shrewd signings from other counties, including Alan Butcher, the experienced opening batsman from Surrey and Colin Metson, a wicketkeeper from Middlesex, Glamorgan went on to enjoy success in both the Championship and one-day competitions
Butcher, together with fellow opener Morris, each scored over 2,000 first-class runs in the 1990 season. However, it was the marquee signing of Viv Richards, the legendary West Indian cricketer, which proved to be the catalyst and in 1990 the former Somerset batsman scored a brilliant century at Southampton as Glamorgan completed a remarkable run-chase against Hampshire.
Three years later, Richards shared in a club record unbroken stand of 425 with Adrian Dale in a Championship match against Middlesex at Sophia Gardens, and the great batsman from the Caribbean was fittingly out in the middle at Canterbury, together with Tony Cottey, when the latter struck the winning runs as Glamorgan lifted their first one-day trophy, under the captaincy of Morris, by defeating Kent to clinch the AXA Equity and Law League for 1993.
Glamorgan’s very own Canterbury tale saw the likes of off-cutter Steve Barwick and all-rounders Adrian Dale and Robert Croft, form a potent bowling unit with Steve Watkin and Dutchman Roland Lefebvre – another astute acquisition from Somerset. Morris formed a productive opening partnership with Steve James, whilst in the middle-order Maynard blossomed into a potent and match-winning batsman.
Four years later, Maynard was the club’s captain as, together with many of the class of ’93, he led Glamorgan to their third Championship title. The summer of 1997 also saw Waqar Younis, the great Pakistani fast bowler, play for the Welsh county and, like Richards in 1993, Waqar played an integral role in Glamorgan’s title success, delivering a series of match-winning spells, including one at Liverpool as Lancashire were dismissed for just 51.
The 1997 season also saw Glamorgan endure the heartbreak of losing their NatWest semi-final against Essex at Chelmsford by just one wicket as the home side’s last batsman hit the winning runs in a pulsating finish. But Maynard’s team, astutely coached by Duncan Fletcher, did not lose heart and defeated Somerset at Taunton in the final match of the season to lift the Championship title.
Morris and Maynard each scored superb centuries in gloomy light, before young bowler Darren Thomas produced a destructive spell of bowling, and after Dean Cosker, another youngster, had claimed the final Somerset wicket, it was left to Steve James to hit the winning runs.
The first decade of the 21st Century saw Glamorgan win further silverware in the one-day competitions as well as secure a Test match at their headquarters following the redevelopment of the Sophia Gardens ground. The decade began with the disappointment of losing another final at Lord’s as Glamorgan, despite a superb century from captain Maynard, lost by five wickets to Gloucestershire in the final of the Benson and Hedges Cup.
The club bounced back and in 2001 won Division Two of the One-Day League, before winning the Division One titles in 2002 and again in 2004. Their victory in 2002 was clinched against Kent in another gripping Canterbury Tale as, after a fine innings from Michael Powell and some probing bowling from Andrew Davies, Michael Kasprowicz – the Australian international – delivered a frugal final over as Kent were defeated by the slender margin of four runs.
Steve James was the club’s captain in 2002 but the man who two years before had struck a club record 309 not out against Sussex at Colwyn Bay was injured for the decisive match at Canterbury so Robert Croft stepped in as acting captain. Croft was at the helm in 2004 as Glamorgan reached finals day of the Twenty20 competition, held at Edgbaston, besides winning the one-day league, with the all-rounder leading by example when he struck a match-winning century at Colwyn Bay as Glamorgan defeated Lancashire by five wickets to secure the title.
In 2005 the Sophia Gardens ground was awarded Category A status by the ECB, pending the redevelopment of the ground and the creation of a 16,000-seater stadium. This building work was duly undertaken during 2006 and 2007, and following generous sponsorship, the SWALEC Stadium came into being. In July 2009, the new stadium duly staged the first Test match in the Ashes series between England and Australia, with the five-day contest, watched by millions of television viewers, proving to be a thrilling encounter as England’s last pair of batsmen played out the closing overs to clinch a nail-biting draw. In addition, Glamorgan’s headquarters became the 100th ground to be used worldwide for Test match cricket, thereby achieving one of the dreams of the club’s administrators over a hundred years before.
The mastermind behind the redevelopment was club chairman Paul Russell, with the success of the Ashes Test leading to a host of plaudits being paid both to Glamorgan and to Paul himself. These were led by former Glamorgan opening batsman, Steve James, who wrote in The Sunday Telegraph: “Heartiest congratulations to Paul Russell, the Glamorgan chaiman who has delivered a magnificent Test venue. Without his acumen, drive and determination, Test cricket would never have come to Wales. For that he will always be remembered and rightly so.”
Following the success of the Ashes Test in 2009, Glamorgan’s headquarters went on to stage further Test cricket as well as other high-profile international and domestic matches. In 2011, England defeated Sri Lanka in a Test match at Cardiff, whilst the following year, the ground successfully staged finals day of the Twenty20 competition. This was followed in 2013 by Cardiff – along with The Oval in London and Edgbaston in Birmingham – being one of the venues for the ICC Champions Trophy.
This resulted in a series of One-Day Internationals being staged in the Welsh capital city and involving the world’s major cricketing nations. The itinerary for the competition included the semi-final between India and Sri Lanka, staged in front of a capacity crowd and watched by millions world-wide.
Glamorgan celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2013, and enjoyed further success in one-day cricket, with the side – astutely led by Mark Wallace – reaching the showpiece final of the Yorkshire Bank40 competition at Lord’s. The Notts Outlaws were Glamorgan’s opponents, but despite a hostile spell of pace bowling by England ace Simon Jones, in what proved to be this final appearance for the Welsh county, the English side won by 87 runs.
Hugh Morris, the club’s former opening batsman and captain, returned to the Welsh county as chief executive and director of cricket. He was delighted to see Ashes cricket come back to Cardiff in 2015 with Sophia Gardens hosting the opening Test of the series during July, as well as later in the summer staging back-to-back Twenty20 Internationals as the men and women from England and Australia went head-to-head at Glamorgan’s headquarters.
In 2016 England faced the tourists from both Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the fifth and final one-day internationals of each series. Against Sri Lanka a series whitewash was secured, but the more competitive Pakistan team were victorious in the early September fixture of that year.
The Cardiff ground once again successfully hosted games in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, including the semi-final between England and Pakistan. Later in the summer, Glamorgan also defeated the Leicestershire Foxes in their home quarter-final in the NatWest T20 Blast and secured a place at finals day for the first time since 2004.
Underdogs Glamorgan picked up their first trophy in 17 years in 2021 when they upset the odds against favourites Essex in the semi-finals of the 50-over-a-side One-Day Cup and then enjoyed a deserved victory against Durham in the final at Trent Bridge.