1997: Glamorgan win the County Championship.

Matthew Maynard and his team celebrate at Taunton after beating Somerset to win the Championship title. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

1997 saw Glamorgan become county champions for the third time in their history. Throughout the season, Matthew Maynard`s team displayed tenacity and positive endeavour, and their collective efforts were shrewdly marshalled by new coach Duncan Fletcher, the former Zimbabwe all-rounder. His wise advice and shrewd analysis helped many of the younger players to improve their game, whilst Maynard`s imaginative leadership saw Glamorgan win eight of their seventeen Championship fixtures.

Waqar Younis was the club`s overseas player and he proved to be a talisman in Glamorgan`s success. The Pakistani pace ace handsomely repaid the money invested in him,  taking 68 wickets at just 22 apiece. During June, he also produced two match-winning performances, with 8/17 against Sussex at Swansea and a hat-trick against Lancashire at Liverpool in a stunning victory which put the Welsh county on top of the Championship table.

The presence of Waqar also meant that long serving seamer Steve Watkin no longer had to shoulder the burden of being both strike and stock bowler. Watkin had another fine season, and with Darren Thomas improving in leaps and bounds under Duncan Fletcher`s tutelage, Glamorgan had an impressive pace attack. In the spin department, Robert Croft was partnered by the promising left-arm spin of Dean Cosker, and overall, Glamorgan possessed an attack that could prosper on every type of surface.

On the batting front, Steve James had an annus mirabilis, amassing 1775 first-class runs, to be the country`s leading run scorer of the season. He also formed a wonderful opening partnership with the ever-dependable Hugh Morris, who began the season with a career-best 233 against Warwickshire, and ended it against Somerset with his 52nd century for the county to draw level with Alan Jones` club record. His record-equaling feat came at Taunton as the Welsh county travelled to the West Country, leading the Championship by one point from Kent, and needing fair weather and the small matter of a maximum of 24 points to make sure of their first Championship title since 1969.

After winning the toss, Matthew Maynard invited Somerset to bat first, and despite suffering from a throat infection, Waqar claimed four wickets to dismiss the home side for 252. Andy Caddick took two early wickets, but Morris and Maynard saw off the new ball, and proceeded to share a superb partnership of 235 for the third wicket.

Their stand was achieved at a helter-skelter pace of six runs an over,  and even more remarkably, the pair of Glamorgan batsmen kept up their brisk scoring rate in appalling light on the second day, and after a break for rain, all five lights at times were brightly shining on the scoreboard light meter. Maynard gave an exhilarating display of controlled hitting, with the Glamorgan captain racing to a glorious century without even making a single. When he finally fell for 142, his breath-taking innings had lasted just 117 balls, and had contained 28 fours and a six.

Hugh Morris continued resolutely at the other end, and consolidated on the good work on the next morning, as Glamorgan advanced from their overnight 353-4 to a formidable 527. Morris was eventually dismissed for 165 with 28 crisply struck boundaries, before Robert Croft and Adrian Shaw each chipped in with robust half-centuries, to give Glamorgan full bonus points and a healthy first innings lead of 275.

Somerset began their second innings after lunch, but their batsmen then feasted on some wayward new ball bowling. A fine spell from Darren Thomas changed things, as the young bowler took five wickets, and consistently beat the Somerset batsmen with his pace and control. At 166-7, the Welsh spectators started to celebrate, but their actions proved rather premature as Graham Rose and Andy Caddick shared a defiant stand of 95 in 14 overs. The ever reliable Steve Watkin returned to end the Somerset fightback, having Rose caught behind, before adding the scalp of tailender Kevin Shine.

Dean Cosker then trapped Ben Trott leg before to leave Glamorgan needing just 11 to win. It only needed eight deliveries, before Steve James hit the winning boundary, and despite Kent defeating Surrey, Glamorgan had secured a full compliment of bonus points and their ten wicket victory gave Matthew Maynard`s men a well deserved Championship title – their first for 28 years.

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