20 May 2021 was nearly a red-letter day for Jock Tait (seen above left) as he came within four runs of scoring Glamorgan’s first-ever Championship hundred in their inaugural match as a first-class county against Sussex at Cardiff Arms Park.
Scottish-born batsman Jock Tait had enjoyed the second day’s play, with the insurance broker ending the day unbeaten on 96, after a forthright innings during which he played some cavalier strokes against the visiting bowlers. He also rode his luck as three catches were spilled by the Sussex fielders, some of whom may have still been feeling the after-effects of the lavish dinner and concert held the previous evening in The Grand Hotel to celebrate Glamorgan’s elevation into the County Championship.
But there were plenty of clear heads the following morning as the match resumed with Glamorgan on 213-9 and plenty of talk about Jock reaching three figures and writing his name into Welsh sporting history. But to the second ball of the morning the Glamorgan batsman was bowled by his namesake, Maurice Tate and he duly returned to the Arms Park pavilion somewhat crestfallen. In unstrapping his pads he also turned to his colleagues “the ball looked as big as a football last night; this morning it seemed as small as a pea!”
Born in the Shetland Islands in November 1886, Jock was a multi-talented sportsman, as after moving to work in South Wales during the early 1900`s, playing cricket and rugby initially for Swansea, before moving to live in the Canton district of Cardiff and playing cricket for Cardiff Alpha and at inside-left at football for Cardiff Corinthians. His good form for the Corries led to him being chosen for Ireland in their amateur international against England in Belfast in 1913. After the game, the Irish selectors realized that they had acted in error and that his birthplace had really made him eligible for the Scottish team. His period of residence in South Wales though also made Jock eligible for the Welsh amateur team and later that year he was chosen in their side for the match against England at Llandudno.
His first cricket match of note had been in June 1910 when he played for the Cardiff and District XI against the team raised by Sammy Wood, the Somerset and Australian cricketer in the fund-raising friendly at the Arms Park. Further decent scores for Cardiff saw Jock make his Glamorgan debut against Monmouthshire at Swansea during late June 1911.
Having moved up the order to open the batting, Jock made 93 against Durham at Sunderland in June 1914, but just as he seemed to be fulfilling his potential, the Great War broke out. Jock joined the Welch Regiment. However, he was struck by a shell whilst serving on the Western Front and was invalided home. Fortunately, the shrapnel wounds to his torso and right leg healed and allowed him to continue his sporting career and the War ended.
He opened the batting with Norman Riches in 1920 and appeared on a regular in the County Championship between 1921 and 1923. In the latter season he also deputized as captain when Tal Whittington was unavailable and after retiring from playing, Jock was very proud of his achievements his adopted county. However, he would have been smiling even more had he scored four more runs in that game a hundred years ago!