Maurice Turnbull, one of the club`s finest ever batsman, most inspirational captains and their first ever Test cricketer, was killed in action in August 1944 whilst on active service in France.
His single-minded efforts during the 1930`s had transformed a team of habitual losers with a large deficit to a successful outfit with financial reserves. Throughout his career, Maurice`s name had been closely associated with affairs of the county club, and who knows what else this great figure would have achieved had he not been shot during the Second World War.
A member of a prominent ship owning family, Maurice went to school at Downside School, south of Bath, where he established a series of batting records. He made his county debut in 1924 whilst still at the Somerset school, and ended up as Glamorgan`s top scorer in the match with Lancashire at Swansea. In 1926 Maurice went up to Cambridge, where he won three cricket Blues and led the University XI in 1929. During the summer, he scored over 1,000 runs for Cambridge, and after coming down, he continued to be Glamorgan`s most prolific batsman.
It had been clear for many years that Maurice was destined for higher honours, and at the end of the 1929 season, he duly won selection for the MCC tour of Australia and New Zealand. In January 1930 he made his Test debut at Christchurch, and thereby became the first Glamorgan player to win an England Test cap. On his return to Britain, Maurice was appointed the full-time captain of Glamorgan, and over the next decade he transformed the downtrodden county into a successful playing unit. He was a gifted leader, always getting the best out of the motley assortment of amateurs and hard-nosed professionals who were at his disposal. He also put great faith in the young Welsh players, and helped to create a clear Welsh identity for the Club, thereby raising public interest in South Wales and boosting gate receipts
He was also very active off the field, and during 1932 took over the duties of the club`s Secretary. Together with his close friend Johnnie Clay, they used their business and social contacts to raise cash for the poverty stricken club through a special fund raising appeal. Their actions ensured that the club did not go bankrupt, and it was claimed that during the winter of 1932/33 Maurice danced more miles than he had scored runs the previous summer – an impressive feat considering that he had passed the 1,300 run mark.
In 1933 Maurice made 200* against Northamptonshire, and he was recalled to the England side at Lord`s and The Oval. He also led the Rest in the Test Trial in 1934, and as with Glamorgan he revealed an astute cricket brain. Indeed, Maurice has been described as the best of his generation never to captain England. He was certainly worth his place as a batsman, but he rather fell out with the M.C.C. authorities over what they viewed as `illegal` declarations. In fact, all that Turnbull was trying to do was to provide entertaining cricket in rain affected games. His actions would not have been censured in the modern era, but Maurice was severely reprimanded by the authorities.
Although Maurice`s Test career was restricted to nine matches, Glamorgan greatly benefited by having his undivided attention. In fact, after his spat with the MCC Maurice preferred his county duties, and in 1933/34 he turned down an invitation to tour India, and devoted his winter to further fund raising for Glamorgan. However, Maurice was back in favour at Lord`s in 1938 when he was appointed an England selector.
Maurice was also an outstanding rugby player, playing as a half-back for Cardiff and winning two Welsh caps in 1932. He was also a Welsh hockey international in 1929, and played with distinction for the Cardiff club, besides winning a hockey Blue whilst up at Cambridge. There is no knowing what other feats Maurice Turnbull would have achieved had he not given his life to his country whilst serving with the Welsh Guards during the Normandy Invasion.
TURNBULL, Maurice Joseph Lawson
Born – Cardiff, 16th March 1906.
Died – Montchamp, France, 5th August 1944.
In First-class cricket – 233 v Worcestershire at Swansea, 1937; 1/4 v Somerset at Bath, 1931.