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Together, We Are All Derbyshire: Glamorgan, 1952

Friday 3rd April 2020

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Geoff Harvey emailed us about a game between Derbyshire and Glamorgan at Derby in 1952 which he attended as a youngster.

Geoff said; “Fortunately for me my uncle was unable to attend the match and gave me his membership card. Three days cricket sitting in what was a rundown wooden building still showing the ravages of the war years when hardly any upkeep had been carried out. But to me this was Buckingham Palace. It stood almost alone except for the old harsh concrete stand next to it overlooking a circle of wooden seats encircling the playing area.”

Despite the result this game has remained in my memory probably because of being in the pavilion and being so close to the players. Since the details have over time eluded me, I would be grateful to see them

Our Heritage Officer, David Griffin, writes;

In 1952, a carefully blended mixture of home grown, developing and judiciously recruited cricketers ensured that Derbyshire were able to field a formidable side.

The regular eleven included Charlie Elliott, Arnold Hamer, Guy Willatt (captain), Alan Revill, Donald Carr, John Kelly, Derek Morgan, AEG ‘Dusty’ Rhodes, George Dawkes (wk), Cliff Gladwin and Les Jackson.

Of that eleven, 10 played 22 or more of the 28 championship games; the other, Kelly, played in 19, and the developing off-spinner, Edwin Smith played in 11.

It was a fine side – Hamer and Carr would become two of Derbyshire’s all-time leading run-scorers; Jackson and Gladwin took more wickets than any other bowlers in the county’s history; Morgan’s career statistics are easily the best of any Derbyshire all-rounder, and George Dawkes was one of the finest wicket-keepers in the country and a virtual ever-present throughout his Derbyshire career.

Derbyshire finished 11th in the county championship in 1951, and thereafter embarked on a run which saw them finish in the top seven on nine occasions in the next 11 seasons. Other than the run of six top six finishes in the 1930s, this was Derbyshire’s finest period in first class cricket.

And had it not been for Surrey’s superiority in the 1950s – they won it seven consecutive times between 1952 and 1958 – then Derbyshire might have emulated the side which had won the title in 1936.

A run of tremendous form saw them undefeated in 12 consecutive games – W W D D W D D D W W W W – but there was a setback when they were defeated by the eventual champions Surrey at Chesterfield.

August began with a win over Northamptonshire followed by two draws before Glamorgan arrived at Derby on 13th August.

In those days the County Ground, Derby was situated over to the southwest of the site, on the area now occupied by the gym and hotel. A pavilion, built in 1885 and which faced almost due south, and next to it, a concrete stand built in 1939, and some rickety wooden seats dotted around the perimeter were the only comforts available to players and spectators.

Derbyshire, without Donald Carr who was replaced by Dick Sale, batted first after Willatt had won the toss.

The Glamorgan side, led by the legendary Wilf Wooller, dismissed the home side for 182 in 75.4 overs with Wooller taking 4-57 and the remaining wickets being shared between Don Shepherd, Albert (Allan) Watkins and Norman Hever.

Wooller took almost 1,000 first class wickets during his 28-year career, while Watkins played 15 Test matches for England averaging over 40 with the bat and taking 11 wickets. Shepherd, meanwhile, is widely considered to be the best bowler of his generation never to play for England. He played for Glamorgan between 1950 and 1972 and took 2,218 wickets at an average of 21, bowling a combination of medium pace and off breaks.

In Derbyshire’s first innings, Charlie Elliott in his penultimate season with Derbyshire, top-scored with 63 but 4 other batsmen were dismissed in the twenties.

Although 182 all out was not an impressive total, Derbyshire possessed a formidable attack and Jackson and Gladwin soon reduced Glamorgan to 26-3. Gilbert Parkhouse, an England Test batsman, resisted for a while with 47, but Jackson (4-52) and leg-spinner Rhodes (4-25 off 20 overs) saw the visitors subside to 140 all out. Jackson’s fourth wicket was his 100th first class wicket of the summer.

A lead of 42 in a low-scoring game could have proved decisive, but Derbyshire registered their lowest innings total of the season to date as they crumbled to 97 all out, a total which would have been even worse without Dawkes’ unbeaten 36 batting at number ten. Six consecutive batsmen – Revill, Kelly, Sale, Morgan, Rhodes and Gladwin – were clean bowled, as Shepherd, Wooller and Watkins all picked up three wickets cheaply.

Glamorgan required 140 to win – their exact first innings score – and what ensued was an attritional 60 overs of cricket in which fortunes swung almost equally between both sides.

At 43-4 and 57-6, Glamorgan’s task looked difficult – 83 required with just 4 wickets in hand, but Len Muncer, in his 41st year, and an experienced campaigner who had played for Middlesex between 1933 and 1946, proved to be the match-winner with a determined 47 not out.

Derek Morgan (5-38) bowled wholeheartedly to secure just his second five wicket haul in senior cricket, and Rhodes picked up 2-43 in 21 overs, but Jackson and Gladwin only managed a combined 1-46 off 22 overs – economical but lacking their usual penetration.

Derbyshire’s chances of the title had probably gone after the Surrey defeat at Chesterfield, but this reverse confirmed it, and the final nail was hammered home when Surrey beat them by 212 runs later in the month in the return game at The Oval.

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