Few if any of Northamptonshire’s cricketing trips to Wales have produced such a gripping contest as the 1965 fixture at the old Arms Park ground in Cardiff. County Championship decider?
It could easily have been. Both Keith Andrew’s side and Glamorgan under Ossie Wheatley were in contention for the title heading into August so the stage was set for a serious tussle.
It was, though, a match for the red ball purist rather than the lover of crash-bang-wallop. The hosts claimed a slender three-run advantage on first innings and Northamptonshire then collapsed to 32 for six in their second knock.
A rearguard action by Jim Watts and Brian Crump left Glamorgan needing 139 for victory – before Crump (the ‘insidious seamer’ according to Neville Cardus) went to work with the ball, picking up four wickets plus a run-out to help dismiss Wheatley’s men for 120.
Northamptonshire were victorious by 18 runs with Crump returning the extraordinary match figures of eight wickets for 142 from 76 overs of honest toil. No wonder ‘The Atomic Pill’ was carried from the field by his team-mates! In the event it didn’t quite earn Northamptonshire the pennant but the effort certainly couldn’t be faulted. And Crump was at it again in the same city just two years later.
The first Championship match staged at the new Sophia Gardens ground saw the Staffordshire man and Ray Bailey make history by bowling unchanged through both innings to secure another Northamptonshire win. The Welsh air has suited some of the County’s all-time greats – not least off-spinner Vallance Jupp who, in 1925, demolished Glamorgan at Swansea with 7-34 (including a hat-trick) in the first innings and 8-18 in the second.
Even for one of the most outstanding all-rounders in the club’s history it was steady going. Hall-of-Famer Fred Bakewell stroked 257 – also at St Helen’s – in 1933, then a County individual record, while Wayne Larkins helped himself to 252 at Cardiff in 1983.
The 242-run partnership between ‘Ned’ and Allan Lamb set up an almost certain victory, only for rain to wash out the final day’s play and let Glamorgan off the hook. Our visit to Cowbridge in 1931 (the first Championship match played there) was an odd affair.
Both teams declared with 51 on the board after rain – but ‘making a game of it’ backfired on Northamptonshire who were then skittled for 59 in their second innings and lost.
More recently, the great Curtly (now Sir Curtly) Ambrose and the Pride of Finedon, Andy Roberts, both made their Northamptonshire debuts at Swansea in 1989.
The good news ended there unfortunately as the County crumbled to 60 all out – not much better than Cowbridge – to lose by 244 runs. But centuries from current batting coach David Sales and Niall O’Brien laid the foundations for an innings win in 2008, and Ben Sanderson’s seven-wicket haul settled the issue in our favour – also at Swansea – three years ago.
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE V GLAMORGAN –
FIRST-CLASS RECORD PLAYED: 146
WON BY NORTHAMPTONSHIRE: 49
WON BY GLAMORGAN: 41
LAST TIME OUT…
Sri Lankan leggie Seekkuge Prasanna claimed four second-innings wickets as Northamptonshire won by 233 runs in Cardiff last June. Ben Duckett’s knock of 133 was another highlight while Australian Test batsman Usman Khawaja reached three figures for the hosts.