There were fewer finer off-spinners in county cricket during the 1930`s than Johnnie Clay. His clever spin and cunning change of length meant that he was a handful on the truest of wickets, so when it came to facing Clay on a damp, spiteful surface, the opposing batsmen were certainly on a sticky wicket!
This was the case at Cowbridge in 1932 where weekend rain transformed the state of Glamorgan`s Championship encounter with Somerset. On the Saturday afternoon, Maurice Turnbull had given a dazzling display of strokeplay, dancing down the wicket to drive the Somerset bowlers, time after time, back over their heads, and through the covers. In all, the Glamorgan captain hit 13 majestic boundaries in a stay at the crease of barely over an hour and a half and, by the time rain had started to fall in late afternoon, his side had reached 237-7.
No more play was possible until 2.30 on the Monday afternoon, by which time the rains had changed the nature of the Cowbridge wicket. Rather than declare immediately, Turnbull instructed his tailenders to go for quick runs, knowing that a little bit more action would help to loosen the surface even more. Jack Mercer responded with a quickfire 31 made in just nine minutes, and his efforts saw the Welsh county to 281.
Somerset were soon in deep trouble, slumping to 31-6, as Clay immediately hit a perfect length and exploited the cracked and pot-marked surface. Arthur Wellard made a few lusty blows, but he fell to the gentle left-arm spin of Emrys Davies, as Clay took 5/28 and Turnbull invited Somerset to follow-on 193 runs behind.
It was not long before Clay was back in the wickets, dismissing Jack Lee and Michael Bennett as Somerset lurched to 5-2. Rain then interrupted proceedings yet again, with play being suspended until one o`clock on Tuesday afternoon. It then took a mere seventy minutes for Clay and Mercer to finish off the Somerset resistance. Clay only claimed a further two wickets, and his accuracy forced the Somerset batsmen to chance their arm at the other end against the seam of Mercer. The latter was rewarded with wonderful figures of 6/15, as Somerset were dismissed for 40, and all without any of their batsmen reaching double figures.