Allan Watkins was the first Glamorgan player to appear in an Ashes Test Match, with the jovial and energetic all-rounder appearing in the final Test of the 1948 Ashes series, with Watkins – after a string of outstanding performances in Championship cricket – appearing in the final Test of the series at The Oval.
Whilst the match was Watkins’ debut for England, it was also Don Bradman’s final Test appearance for Australia, needing just four runs in his final innings to complete a batting average of 100, and the Usk-born all-rounder duly entered the record books as the last person to field a ball from the player regarded as the world’s finest-ever batsman.
The following winter he also became the county`s first Centurion in Test cricket, scoring 111 in the Fourth Test against South Africa at Johannesburg. In all, Allan won 15 caps besides giving yeoman service to the Welsh county between 1939 and 1961. In his early years, Allan mixed county cricket with professional football for Plymouth Argyle and Cardiff City, with his maiden century at the Arms Park in 1946 only coming after the Argyle manager had agreed to release the winger from training.
Allan was a solid and enterprising left-handed batsman, who could also bowl left-arm seam and cutters. His all-round skills and mix of flowing strokeplay and gritty defence made him a popular figure with Glamorgan`s supporters and a well-respected professional on the county circuit. These qualities were also recognized by the England selectors who appointed him as senior professional on their tour to India, Pakistan and Ceylon in 1951/52. He wholeheartedly undertook the role of stock bowler and also finished the tour as the leading run scorer in the Test series with India. His determination was also to the fore during a nine hour vigil in the First Test at Delhi and his 137* helped to save England from defeat.
In both 1954 and 1955, Allan performed the Double of over 1,000 first-class runs and 100 wickets, whilst during 1955/56 he served as Senior Professional once again on the MCC A tour to Pakistan. It proved to be his final winter abroad in England colours, but Allan continued to be a heavy scorer at county level, passing 1,000 runs in every season bar one from 1947 until 1960, as well as taking over 50 wickets in seven out of eight seasons between 1949 and 1956.
Inevitably, these stoic efforts took their toll, and by the early 1960`s Allan was increasingly troubled by asthma. He retired on medical advice mid-way through the 1962 season, and subsequently became a popular coach at Oundle School.
WATKINS, Albert John
Born – Usk, 21st April 1922.
Died – Kidderminster, 3rd August 2011.
Best performances for Glamorgan:
In First-class cricket – 170* v Leicestershire at Swansea, 1954; 7/28 v Derbyshire at Chesterfield, 1954.