Don Shepherd, who was Glamorgan’s most successful bowler with 2,174 wickets for the welsh county, took more wickets than any other bowler who never played Test cricket.
His magnificent record speaks volumes for both Don’s ability and perseverance over a career with the Welsh county from 1950 until 1972. Like many spin bowlers, Don made his Glamorgan debut in 1950 as a seam bowler, and up until 1955, he was a fast-medium bowler. In these early years, he regularly opened the bowling, and in 1952 he claimed 115 victims. However, he lost form and penetration during 1955, and he found it difficult to regularly hit the seam. He sought advice from Wilf Wooller and other senior players, and decided to convert to off-cutters. After hours of practice, he took 10-85 against Warwickshire at Neath in the final match of the 1955 season, and thereafter decided to concentrate on this slower style.
His change reaped handsome rewards in 1956, as Don took 168 wickets for the Welsh county, including taking more than five wickets in an innings on fifteen occasions. He passed the hundred mark in eleven further seasons, and year after year, Shepherd tricked and teased the finest of batsmen on the county circuit. He was also fortunate to have the support of some top-class fielders close to the wicket, especially Peter Walker at short-leg, plus wicket-keepers Haydn Davies, David Evans and Eifion Jones, who all instructed by Don to stand back rather than up to the stumps. This was not surprising as Don was not a classical slow bowler, as he delivered the ball at almost medium pace, and had the ability to undercut the ball and make it move in the air, thereby causing the batsmen to misjudge the length of the ball.
He was a match-winner on a turning wicket, as testified by a series of remarkable returns, including 6/5 against Nottinghamshire at Newport in 1961, 5/2 against Leicestershire at Ebbw Vale in 1965 and 7/7 against Hampshire at the Arms Park in 1966, whilst he also took a hat-trick against Northamptonshire at Swansea in 1964. Don was also an aggressive lower-order batsman who equalled the world record with a whirlwind half-century against the 1961 Australians at Swansea, reaching 50 in just 15 minutes with only eleven scoring strokes.
Don was also a canny tactician, acting from 1962 as a wise senior professional, and he was Tony Lewis` loyal vice-captain during the Championship winning season of 1969. The year before Don had led Glamorgan to victory over the 1968 Australians at Swansea, and the 79 run victory was a tribute to his subtle tactics and shrewd bowling changes. In 1969/70 he toured Ceylon and the Far East with the M.C.C., and in 1970 he was one of Wisden`s Five Cricketers of the Year. He retired in 1972, but kept a close link with the county game by coaching, as well as broadcasting with BBC Radio Wales.
SHEPHERD, Donald John
Born – Port Eynon, 12th August 1927.
Died – Swansea , 18th August 2017.
Best performances for Glamorgan:
In first-class cricket – 73 v Derbyshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1961; 9/47 v Northamptonshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1954.
In List A cricket – 25* v Leicestershire at Coalville, 1970; 5/31 v Northamptonshire at Northampton, 1969.