Cowbridge (2)

During the early 1930s, the officials of Glamorgan CCC started to look at venues away from Cardiff and Swansea where they could drum up new support and boost the club’s rather shaky finances.  Cowbridge came under  consideration as many wealthy  businessmen,  and potential patrons of the county club, lived in the Vale of Glamorgan. Maurice Turnbull, the club`s captain, and Johnnie Clay, his close friend, had both played at Cae Wyndham and knew about the decent pitch. Both believed that it would be suitable for county matches and, as a result, the county committee allocated two county games to Cowbridge in 1931.

The inaugural fixture took place on 25, 26 and 27 July 1931, with Northamptonshire the opponents. However, rain washed out the first day`s play, and the match eventually began midway through the second afternoon. As the sun came out to dry up the ground, the two captains, Vallance Jupp and Maurice Turnbull, got together to see what they could make of the situation. Rather than playing out time for a tame draw, they agreed to declare their first  innings at 50, and to then play what in effect would be a one-innings match.

Glamorgan meet Essex in 1931 at Cowbridge. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Jupp duly declared the Northants innings at 51-1, before Turnbull followed suit at 51-2, but the Glamorgan side had  only batted for an hour, and the Glamorgan  captain unwittingly broke Law 54 which stated that in a two day game the side batting second should bat for at least 100 minutes. Neither of the umpires were aware of this and it was only when the teams and officials were having a close of play drink in the Bear Hotel, that a journalist drew their attention to this infringement, and a debate took place over the ethics of the Law.

Turnbull believed that he had done nothing wrong, and argued that the public wanted to see a positive outcome in rain affected games, and that the only way to achieve this was to have freak declarations.  To an extent, his actions were  vindicated, as on the final morning, Ryan and Clay dismissed Northants for 59, and Glamorgan raced to an eight-wicket win. But the MCC took a dim view of his actions, and both captains and umpires were reprimanded by the MCC for departing from accepted principles.

A cartoon from The Western Mail of 29 July 1931, summing up the situation with the so-called illegal declaration at Cowbridge. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Cowbridge was allocated two matches again in 1932, and both ended up as innings victories for Glamorgan.  But Turnbull’s joy evaporated again as concern was expressed at the state of the Cowbridge wicket. In both of the games, the wicket started to crumble on the second day, and in the game with Somerset, the visitors were dismissed for just 88 and 40, with Clay returning match figures of 9/47. 

With decent pitches and facilities at other grounds, the Glamorgan committee decided to take first-class matches away from Cowbridge. Even so, it continued to stage club and ground matches, and other exhibition matches, largely through the enthusiastic actions of `Tip` Williams, a leading light with the local club and the South Wales Hunts. In 1953 Cae Wyndham played host to Glamorgan`s friendly with the Pakistani Eaglets, whilst in 1993 the visitors included the Courage Old England XI.

Click on the link below to see the ground records at The Broadshoard