There are two reasons why Lewis Jenkins holds a unique place in Glamorgan’s history – first, he was the batsman who faced the opening ball in the Club’s inaugural fixture against Warwickshire at Cardiff Arms Park in 1889. Secondly, he was the first batsmen to be dismissed as he departed to the second ball of the game, caught off the bowling of fast bowler John Shilton.
A native of the Neath area, Lewis was a stalwart of the Cadoxton and Briton Ferry Town clubs, as well as the South Wales CC, featuring on a regular basis on their annual tours to London and the Home Counties. His first appearance though at a higher level had come in the Glamorganshire side raised in July 1871 to play Monmouthshire at Usk, but it was the 24 year-old’s ability with the ball, rather than with the bat as in later years, which led to his inclusion. Opening the bowling, he claimed six wickets in Monmouthshire’s first innings, but his efforts could not prevent a sizeable defeat by eight wickets.
His bowling also led to his selection three years later for the Bute Household XXII against the All-England XI in Cooper’s Field in Cardiff. He claimed a couple of wickets against the English professionals but batting at number sixteen, he ended up as top-scorer in the first innings making 17 before being dismissed by James Shaw, the left-arm round-arm fast bowler. Lewis’ batting continued to flourish, as evidenced by his performance at St. Helen’s in Swansea where he was in the South Wales XVIII which met the 1878 Australians with Lewis top-scoring with 15 in the home team’s second innings before being dismissed by another famed fast bowler, Frederick “The Demon” Spofforth.
He made further guest appearances at St. Helen’s for various Swansea and District teams, including the matches against the United South of England XI in 1876 and the All-England XI in 1877. His best years were clearly behind him when Lewis made his one and only appearance for Glamorgan against Warwickshire, but given his standing within the South Wales CC, their involvement in sowing the seeds for a county side, and his prolific run-scoring in club cricket, it was fitting that he should open the batting at the Arms Park.
Six years later, he also played against the Welsh county for the South Wales CC in a friendly at St. Helen’s – a game which proved to be his final match of note. Lewis worked in the tinplate business in Neath, and was also a decent golfer, acting as captain of the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
Born – Skewen, 8 February 1847.
Died – Lonlas, Skewen 16 April 1922.