Peter Wynne-Thomas looks back on past meetings between Nottinghamshire and Glamorgan at Trent Bridge.
A mid-September day in 1981, or to be more precise, a Monday just after lunch. Malcolm Nash (of six sixes fame) bowls a no-ball. Nottinghamshire claim the County Championship for the first time in 52 years. Moments later on the players’ balcony, Reg Simpson, Chairman of Cricket, not normally prone to outward emotion, stands with tears in his eyes.
He was a lad of nine when Arthur Carr won the crown in 1929. It had been a long wait. A large crowd gathered in front of the rent Bridge pavilion to cheer Clive Rice, Richard Hadlee, Derek Randall, Eddie Hemmings and the rest of the triumphant team. The game had been won by 10 wickets. Paul Todd and Tim Robinson went out to bat directly after the lunch interval with a mere 30 runs required. The task was completed in 15 minutes.
Retreating 30 years to Reg Simpson’s first season as captain, on a pleasant Saturday at the end of June. Glamorgan were the visitors.
The Guardian’s report of the day’s play starts: “Scenes unparalleled in county cricket occurred at Trent Bridge on Saturday, when, after barracking by a bored 10,000 crowd had produced no effect, Reg Simpson, the Notts captain, went on himself and startled everybody by bowling under-arm deliveries to Wilf Wooller, the Glamorgan leader.”
The wicket was a typical Trent Bridge feather-bed. Glamorgan worked their way to 212 for four. The position, surely, from which to launch an assault on the rather modest Notts attack, as Wooller came to the wicket. He and Willie Jones batted through the next 15 overs and managed to add just 12 runs.
Simpson boiled over. He lobbed the first of his deliveries to Wooller, who simply patted it back. The next five balls were sent as slow daisy-cutters. The umpires were non-plussed. Wooller reacted by taking off his batting gloves after each ball and exaggeratingly wiped the sweat from his brow.
Simpson told the press that the Glamorgan batting was a farce and he decided to produce some farcical bowling to match. The Notts Committee held a meeting, after which Capt Brown, the County Secretary, issued a statement that would be valued by the best political pundit: “The matter was not raised by any member of the committee and, as there was nothing on the agenda under this heading, no reference was made to it.”
The newspapers don’t mentioned how many of the crowd came for the third and final day, but what they missed was Wooller deciding to use all 11 of his men as bowlers. This included wicketkeeper Hayden Davies. It was the only time in a 24-year career he ever bowled - and he took a wicket. The match was drawn.
Through the rest of the decade, the fixture was not Notts v Glamorgan, but Wooller v Simpson – and things didn’t improve. In 1953, for example, Glamorgan managed to bat through an entire day and score just 254 runs, for the loss of five wickets. Simpson’s reaction that time was to hit 124 in 200 minutes on the second day.
On a more serious note the sequence of matches throw up a record as bizarre as anything already described. Glamorgan first came to Trent Bridge in 1922. It took the Welshmen 31 years to win a match on the ground. Not too odd, Glamorgan were very weak before the Second World War, but what happened from 1953? Twenty-six years drifted by before Notts managed to beat Glamorgan and break a depressing spell of failure. The win finally came in 1979, when Richard Hadlee took 7-28, as Glamorgan crumbled to 141 all out. Trevor Tunnicliffe scored 97 for Notts, one of the few highlights in a disappointing career.
I can’t ignore Bill Voce’s famous hundred in 45 minutes scored off the Glamorgan attack of 1931, though it wasn’t a Championship game. The authorities had one of their all too frequent upheavals in the Championship regulations. Notts at that time played all other 16 counties home and away, but only 28 matches counted in the competition, so Notts games v Sussex and Glamorgan were judged first-class but non-Championship.
The fastest hundred versus Glamorgan in a Championship game was by Fred Barratt in 1928 - not really remarkable for Fred was a typically well-built fast bowler, fond of the long handle. His hundred took 85 minutes. Nothing extraordinary, except that he was dropped eight times – maybe today’s fielding is better after all.
All this was decades ago, so I’d at least pretend I belong to the 21st century and recall the 10th wicket stand of 101 between Chris Read and Mark Footitt on Glamorgan’s last trip to Trent Bridge, two summers ago. Read made 103 not out, and Notts won.
Of the 48 matches so far played (including the two in 1931), Nottinghamshire have won 19, Glamorgan have won 11 and 18 ended in a draw. Even such mundane figures hide a minor quirk. Not included in them is the 1968 match when not a ball could be bowled - only the second time in 128 years that a county three/four day match at Trent Bridge was completely washed away by the weather.