First-Class At Last!

Cardiff Arms Park became a venue for first-class cricket in May 1921 following Glamorgan’s successful campaign after the First World War for elevation into the County Chmapionship.

At the time, the requirement for first-class status was  home and away matches with a minimum of eight existing  teams in the County Championship. This was Tal Whittington’s initial goal during the Autumn of 1920 and to his delight Somerset quickly agreed to his request, followed by Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Hampshire. However, in a couple of cases, where concerns existed about the financial viability of a three-day fixture against the Welsh county, Tal  had to agree to an additional caveat that Glamorgan would guarantee a sum of £200 towards the fixture.

In November 1920, Tal reported to the Glamorgan committee that he had secured the support of these seven counties. Jubilant at hearing this news, they instructed  him to “obtain the eighth at any cost whatsoever.”  As it turned out strong persuasion or financial carrots were not needed, as both Lancashire and Sussex  readily agreed to his approach, and with a full complement of fixtures, he was able to finish the paperwork with the MCC well ahead of the meeting at Lord’s on Friday, 18 February 1921 of  their Advisory County Cricket group.

Glamorgan’s application for first-class status was the first item on the agenda, and on the proposal of Henry Murray-Anderdon, the Honorary Secretary and President of Somerset, supported by Sir Russell Bencroft, the Hampshire Chairman, the group agreed to  recommend to the full MCC committee that Glamorgan should be awarded first-class status. The following morning, the newspapers carried glowing reports, with the Western Mail stating that “unbounded satisfaction will be felt that Glamorgan has received official recognition in the highest cricketing circles and, at length, may pride itself upon being a first-class county.”

Norman Riches, extreme right, leads out Glamorgan for their inaugural Championship match in May 1921 against Sussex at Cardiff Arms Park. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

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