Peter Wynne-Thomas looks back on past meetings between Glamorgan and Nottinghamshire at Swansea.
There’s no escaping Sobers’ six sixes as soon as the cricket ground at Swansea is mentioned. A world-first. Not too many of them in Notts’ post-war history. Of course the pub quiz has been provided with two great questions. Who was the bowler? Who was the batsman at the other end? Odd really. I don’t recall anyone asking who was the batsman at the other end when Brian Lara reached the world’s first Championship 500, or even who was the bowler to suffer the 500th run. Sobers’ six sixes has somehow lodged itself in the public mind - it wasn’t as if his feat had much, if anything to do with the match result - who did win? Malcolm Nash and John Parkin - the answers to the two questions - must be thoroughly fed up with the topic. Do either of them still dare to attend a public gathering?
The real heroes of that game in 1968 were Mike Taylor and Bob White, but they don’t feature in the legend. At the start of the final day, Notts were 50-4 in their second innings. Sobers decided to bat on till lunch. He then declared at 139-6, setting Glamorgan 248 minutes to score 280. Pitches weren’t quite as plumb as they are today, but it was a fair target. Mike Taylor took 5-47 in 16 overs; Bob White 4-9 off eight overs. Glamorgan crashed, all out for 113, with their sole success being captain Tony Lewis, who batted two hours for 52.
Garry Sobers’ incredible feat had occurred on the first day. Notts cruised to 308-5 when Sobers came in just before tea. After the break Sobers decided to hit out, in order to declare and give the Welsh side some difficult batting in the evening. The result: the six sixes.
At least that astounding game wiped out the bitter memory of 1927 – still lodged in the consciences of the old Notts codgers of the day 41 years later. It was described at the time as “the most sensational feature of the season.” The dreadful disaster of 1927 was played out on the same three days – August 31, September 1 & 2 – as the 1968 Sobers’ match. Uncanny!
On August 30, 1927, Notts were topping the Championship table. The County had won 12 matches, with one match remained to be played. It was against Glamorgan at Swansea, Notts had beaten Glamorgan the week before at Trent Bridge. Glamorgan had failed to claim a single victory all summer.
Notts travelled down to Swansea without their inspirational captain, Arthur Carr, who was recovering from illness in a Malvern Hotel. Glamorgan were also lacking their captain, John Clay, who was also one of their principal bowlers. Lionel Kirk was drafted in to lead Notts. Preserved in the Trent Bridge library are 11 telegrams he received on the ground at Swansea. One that arrived on the morning of the last day remains a bit of a riddle. It reads - in capitals of course:
“ATTA BOY WISH GREAT SUCCESS TODAY CURSE BATES TELL HIM I SAY SO.” ALLEN LIMB LEEDS.
Does anyone know who Allen Limb was? What was he doing in Leeds? Anyway, Bates had scored 163 on the first day and enabled Glamorgan to gain a first innings lead of 142. Notts were two wickets down at the start of the final morning’s play, but they possessed a strong batting line-up. Before lunch, however, they were all out for just 61 – Notts had needed only a draw to become Champions.
The Nottingham Journal takes up the story:
“The first news of the collapse was received with some scepticism in Nottingham. Not until it had actually appeared in print did the truth really sink in - and then incredibility gave place to bewilderment. On the tramcars, in the clubs, the restaurants and cafes, the one topic of conversation was the downfall of Notts - and of course, there was quite a good sprinkling of the I-told-you-so enthusiasts, who invariably intensify the agony rather than console one’s disappointed feelings.”
So confident had the people of Nottingham been of success that the City Hall had arranged a civic reception for the team on its return.
Enough of woe. Now the good news. Nottinghamshire have not lost at Swansea since 1948. 13 matches have been played there since. Notts have won six, with the other seven drawn. The last visit is still bright in the memory of both Tim Robinson and Paul Johnson. Notts captain Robinson hit a hundred in each innings. Glamorgan set Notts, at noon on the last day, 336 off 85 overs. Paul Pollard and Mark Saxelby opened. The latter was soon out, but Robinson joined Pollard in a century stand. Pollard was bowled by Croft with the total 140. Paul Johnson arrived and took the bowling apart. His fifty came in 43 balls, his hundred, the fastest of the summer to date, in 73. Notts won with 2.4 overs left by nine wickets.
There was a reversed situation in the 1976 Swansea encounter. Glamorgan were set 356 in 375 minutes. Bob White, whose off-spin had won the 1968 game, again played a vital role. He took eight wickets in the match, four in each innings. Notts won by 134 runs with time to spare. Basher Hassan was that game’s only centurion, with a very brisk 113 including a six and 14 fours.
The 1962 match saw Glamorgan again set a target, which seemed reasonable, 238 off 255 minutes. The weather was poor, with clouds building. Rain cut 10 minutes off their time. By lunch Glamorgan were 63-3. After the break, Ian Davison came on to bowl and his spell was described as “a revelation.” In 13.4 overs he took 5-21 and Notts secured victory by 111 runs.
The match was also a career highlight for that cheerful cricketer, Mervyn Winfield. Harry Richards’ report notes: “Winfield placing his strokes well and getting right behind the ball, was the rock on which the Glamorgan attack broke. Throughout his long stay he never gave a semblance of a chance.” Winfield had come in with the score 8-2. His 134 proved his highest in first-class cricket.
We began with a six, we’ll end with a six. After Winfield’s great innings, Bomber Wells came to the crease and hit a violent 55, which included one of his towering straight sixes – what happened to that ball!