Jack Mercer takes all ten at Worcester, 1936

A signed photo of Jack Mercer in 1937. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Glamorgan have produced a number of England bowlers over the years, but one record has eluded all of them, as well as the uncapped heroes such as Don Shepherd, Malcolm Nash and Jim Pressdee. It is the feat of taking all ten wickets in an innings – a feat achieved by Jack Mercer at Worcester in 1936.

Mercer was the mainstay of the Glamorgan attack during the inter-war period, and during his 18 year career with the Welsh county, he claimed 1, 460 wickets at just 23 runs apiece. His finest hour with the ball came quite fittingly during his Benefit Year, with the veteran seamer having already celebrated his 43rd birthday. The atmospheric conditions on the first morning of the match against Worcestershire at New Road in 1936 were humid, and overnight rain delayed the start. Even so, the wicket was bone dry, and it looked good enough for Bernard Quaife, the home captain, to have no hesitation in opting to bat first after winning the toss.

However, Worcestershire were soon in trouble, collapsing to 59-6 before lunch as Mercer, claimed all six victims, bowling an immaculate length and swinging the new ball lavishly. He was also assisted by some fine catching in the slips by Cyril Smart, and also Maurice Turnbull at short-leg. The only batsmen to play with any certainty were Roger Human and Sandy Singleton, and the latter after lunch tried to hit Mercer off his length thereby forcing Turnbull into making a bowling change. But despite being hit to the ropes several times by Singleton, the wily seamer asked wicket-keeper Tom Brierley to stand up to the stumps, and soon afterwards, had Singleton stumped as he fell out of his ground, defeated by Mercer`s swing.

Mercer added further to his tally, removing Dick Howarth and Reg Perks, and with all nine wickets to his name, the fielders realised that Mercer was on the verge of a remarkable club record. Apparently, Emrys Davies, who was bowling at the other end, deliberately sent the balls in his next over wide of the stumps, simply to give Mercer a chance of claiming all ten. The tension started to mount and several half chances from Mercer were spilled as the fielders also desperately tried to help Mercer claim all ten.

After Human had been given a life, it looked as if Mercer would miss out on a place in the club`s history, but then Peter Jackson skied the ball into the outfield. George Lavis ran underneath the descending ball, juggled with it for a few heart-stopping seconds, before holding on with an audible sigh of relief echoing all around the ground.

Perhaps the calmest person on the ground was Mercer himself. He just smiled, swung his sweater over his shoulder and turned around to walk back to the pavilion. As his delighted colleagues gathered around, Mercer nonchalantly shook the hands of the batsmen and bowlers and then walked off as if nothing had happened!!

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