The Welsh Cygnets (Part Three): John Chandless and his Indian summer.

The Welsh Cygnets – Photo Credit: Museum of Welsh Cricket.

This is the third and final instalment of articles about the Welsh Cygnets who played at Llandudno during September 1927. It celebrates one of the unsung heroes of the side, John Chandless, who can be seen above, in the middle row of the team photograph, second from the right.

John Chandless, who preferred to be known as “Jack”, had qualified for membership of the Cygnets through his sole first-class appearance for Wales against Ireland in Belfast during 1926. He had the distinction of being selected for the inaugural fixture played by the new club at Panteg duringJune 1927. In some respects, he was an odd choice for a side established to bring through young talented players. In June 1927 Jack was 42-years old and the last of his three appearances for Glamorgan, in their Minor Counties days, had been in 1920. Yet Norman Riches and the Cygnets’ selection committee were well aware that a few old heads were required to steady the ship so that the young players could flourish.  

There were few bowlers in Wales more reliable than the captain of the Cardiff YMCA club. Jack Chandless had played in both of the sides assembled in May 1927 to provide Glamorgan with practice before their first County Championship match of the season against Essex. At the time Nomad, the Western Mail’s cricket correspondent, described him as a bowler who “… had few superiors in local cricket”. This view was underlined in the second of the two games where it was reported that he was treated by the Glamorgan batsmen “… with marked respect and 8 overs from him yielded only 11 runs.”

Although Chandless did not play in the Cygnets games in north Wales that followed the Panteg fixture, it was no surprise that he was included in the team selected to face New Zealand at Llandudno on 7 September. What’s more he arrived in fine form. Just days after his 43rd birthday he had stepped in, at late notice, to make his first-class debut for Glamorgan against Somerset at Cardiff Arms Park on 27 August 1927. It was a memorable occasion for Jack Chandless for, just as the opposition appeared to be heading for a reasonable first innings total, he claimed three quick wickets for 13 runs and precipitated a collapse that saw Somerset bowled out for 122 runs. Although the match ended as a draw  his “mastery” of the Somerset batsmen was hailed by the press as fully justifying his selection.

In the event, the headlines in the game against New Zealand went to the five wickets taken by the young Cygnets’ fast bowler, Samuel Jagger.  Yet, as always, Jack Chandless played his part with three wickets during his spell of sixteen overs. In addition, his time in Llandudno was not over. The following day he turned out for a South Wales XI against North Wales. His five wickets in the North Wales first innings included three players stumped by Norman Riches and the wicket of the legendary former England player, Sydney Barnes.

At the end of the week, Jack would been faced with the long trip back to south Wales. Although his skills were much in demand for invitation elevens, he had to balance his cricket appearances with work commitments in Cardiff. Yet, on that journey south, he must have reflected, with some satisfaction, on a season that, for a 43-year old cricketer, was certainly something of an Indian summer.

We would like to thank the Chandless family for the donation to the Museum of Welsh Cricket of the photograph of the Cygnets at Llandudno in 1927 seen above. Little did any of us appreciate at the time just what a story it had to tell!

For those who have waited patiently for details of the line-up in the photograph above, here they are: Front Row (Left to right): KC Raikes, GE Rowland, NVH Riches, HD Swan and CA Rowland; Middle Row (Left to right): MJL Turnbull, AE Mallalieu, ST Jagger, Hon CN Bruce, J Chandless, TB Williams; Back Row (Left to right): FW Mathias, WH Rowland, CF Walters, Not identified, Not identified.     

by Tony Peters

Museum Volunteer

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