Ask any Northamptonshire supporter to name the most extraordinary County Championship match they’ve ever seen and it’s a pound to a penny that a fair proportion of them will pick a certain contest against Glamorgan at Wantage Road 21 years ago.
Talk about Dunkirk Spirit. The outlook for the County was not remotely promising at 142-4 in the second innings, still trailing the visitors by 249 runs with more than a day-and-a-half remaining. Defeat appeared a formality.
At that point current head coach David Ripley joined Mal Loye at the crease. They were still there at the close of Saturday’s play with their partnership worth 269 and Loye already past 200. Sunday saw thousands of Cobblers fans trekking to Wembley for a play-off final against Grimsby – but the diehard cricket followers saw the pair carry their stand to 401, still a club record for any wicket, before Ripley was dismissed.
Loye pressed on, and just after three o’clock cut Steve Watkin for four to pass Raman Subba Row’s 300 which had stood as the highest individual innings for Northamptonshire since 1958. The local boy eventually ran out of partners on 322 not out after 648 minutes in the middle – and the innings closed on 712, then the largest second-innings total in Championship history. A great day spoiled only by the Cobblers’ defeat…
The first Northampton meeting between the two counties – in 1921, Glamorgan’s maiden season in the Championship – saw another home-grown cricketer, Daventry’s ‘Bumper’ Wells, dominate proceedings. Aged 40, he scored a rumbustious century and claimed eight wickets as Northamptonshire triumphed by 244 runs.
And four years later it was the turn of Wollaston pair Ben Bellamy and Vernon Murdin to make the headlines. Northamptonshire’s tail wagged in extraordinary fashion with the last three wickets adding 282, including a record last-wicket stand of 148 between the wicketkeeper and the fast bowler. It has never been bettered for the club, 94 years later.
Glamorgan have had their moments too, of course. In 1990, having been second-best for most of the match, they chased down 309 on the final afternoon thanks to a superb partnership between Matthew Maynard and a promising chap named Viv Richards. Both were dropped early on and made the County pay with a century apiece. It was Glamorgan’s first win on the ground since their Championship-winning season of 1969.
In 2010 Andrew Hall wrote his name in the record books by claiming Northamptonshire’s first Championship hat-trick in 30 years. Ben Wright, Jamie Dalrymple and Jim Allenby were his victims to hasten a comfortable victory. And three years ago it was spinners Rob Keogh and Graeme White to the fore. They captured all 20 Glamorgan wickets – 13 to Rob, seven for Graeme – as the County prevailed by 318 runs with a day to spare.
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE V GLAMORGAN –
WON BY NORTHAMPTONSHIRE: 49
WON BY GLAMORGAN: 41
LAST TIME OUT…
Ben Duckett’s knock of 133 – and four second-innings wickets for Sri Lankan spinner Seekkuge Prasanna – set up Northamptonshire’s 233-run victory at Cardiff last June, Ricardo Vasconcelos passing 50 in both innings.