Johnnie Clay: 15/86 v Northants, 1935.

Glamorgan`s visit to Stradey Park, Llanelli in 1935 saw Johnnie Clay return what at the time were the best-ever bowling figures in a match for the Welsh county. His virtuoso performance came after Northamptonshire opted to take first use of a drying wicket. Their openers Fred Bakewell and Alex Snowden had calmly progressed to 47 without loss before Clay had Snowden caught behind by wicket-keeper Tom Brierley. This was the only alarm in Clay`s opening ten over spell, and new batsmen Norman Grimshaw also appeared in little trouble as the Glamorgan bowlers strove to make another breakthrough.

Everything changed as Jack Mercer, nearing the end of an accurate opening spell had Bakewell caught behind, before Clay, in the space of a dramatic hour and half, produced a wonderful spell, taking the next eight wickets at a personal cost of just 18 runs. One of Clay`s greatest assets was a clever variation in flight, and it was this which saw Ben Bellamy well held by Maurice Turnbull at short-leg. All of his remaining victims either bowled or trapped leg-before as the off-spinner completely confused the visiting batsmen.

Johnnie Clay, seen bowling at The Oval during 1934.
Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The wicket had dried out by the time Glamorgan went in, allowing Dick Duckfield and Cyril Smart to each hit attractive half centuries. But it was George Lavis who finished up as top scorer, with a fine hundred, full of stylish drives and strong pulls square of the wicket. However, wickets continued to tumble at the other end, and Lavis was relieved to reach three figures with last man Johnnie Clay as his partner. 

Largely through the efforts of Lavis, Northamptonshire needed 212 to avoid an innings defeat, yet in just a couple of hours on the Monday evening, they subsided to 103 and an innings defeat. Clay was once again their chief tormentor, completely deceiving batsman after batsman with his clever variations. None of the visiting players scored more than 16 in their second innings, as Clay steadily worked his way through their batting order. It was however, left to Emrys Davies to wrap up the innings with the final three wickets, but it was Clay who was the hero of this classic match, finishing with the wonderful match analysis of 15/86.

Leave a Reply