A hat-trick of stumpings

Sam Brain was Glamorgan`s first regular wicket-keeper in the Minor County competition and during the 1893 season, whilst playing for his native Gloucestershire, he created a unique record, completing stumpings from three consecutive deliveries as Charles Townsend took a hat-trick against Somerset at Cheltenham. No other wicket-keeper in the history of first-class cricket has equaled Brain’s feat.

Sam Brain, seen whilst playing for Oxford University. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Sam’s feat came in the opening game of the Cheltenham Festival with the home side’s attack including sixteen year-old leg-spinner Charles Townsend – one of the bright hopes of Gloucestershire who was playing his second county match. By the second evening the visitors had amassed a lead of 301 so there was something of a carefree mood in the visitor’s camp as Charles wheeled away shortly before the close. With the clock at the College ground nearing ten to seven, Charles began what proved to be his final over of the day, but not quite in the manner the young leg-spinner intended. To his fourth delivery of the over, Arthur Newton advanced down the wicket, missed the ball as he played an ungainly heave and was promptly stumped by Sam. The Somerset professionals, George Nichols and Teddy Tyler, perhaps under instruction from their captain, then repeated the stroke as in successive balls they too advanced down the wicket to the young spinner and departed in identical fashion ‘stumped Brain, bowled Townsend.`

Sam was a regular face in the Glamorgan side from the mid-1890s until 1908 when he devoted his energies on a full-time basis to Brain’s Brewery. Like his older brother Jack, he had been educated at Clifton College, before going up to Oxford University and then joining his brother in running the family`s brewing business in Cardiff.

By the time he retired in 1908, Brain had amassed over 2,000 runs in his career for Glamorgan, and had 240 dismissals to his name. The fact that he had almost as many stumpings than catches to his name spoke volumes for his deft glovework, as well as the skills of the Glamorgan spinners, especially in dismissing a series of cavalier amateurs intent on playing some flamboyant strokes!

In 1914 Sam became Chairman of Brains Brewery in 1914 – a position he continued to fill until his death in 1934. His contributions on the cricket field have not been forgotten by the Cardiff-based brewery who celebrated their 125th anniversary with a special beer called “Hat-Trick Ale”.


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