Robert Croft is one of the great all-rounders to play for Glamorgan, who during a career spanning four decades became the only player in the Club’s history to claim over 1,000 first-class wickets and score more than 10,000 first-class runs for the Welsh county. A measure of this achievement is that only eight other players have emulated his achievements for any county since 1945, and he could well be the final county cricketer to achieve this feat. His all-round talents were also recognised by the England selectors, with Robert playing in more international matches for England than any other home-grown Glamorgan cricketer, appearing in 21 Test Matches and 50 One-Day Internationals.
The off-spinner graduated from Welsh age-group sides during the mid-1980s to the Glamorgan 2nd XI and Colts side, before making his first-class debut in August 1989, when he appeared in the County Championship match against Surrey at The Oval. He subsequently became an integral member of the Glamorgan side that won a series of county titles during the next two decades, besides captaining the Club between 2003 and 2006.
During his distinguished playing career, Robert has also won a host of honours, starting in 1990 with Glamorgan’s Young Player of the Year Award. He won this Award again in 1992 – a season which also saw Robert win his Glamorgan cap following a series of outstanding performances, including career-best figures of 8/66, and a fourteen-wicket match haul against Warwickshire at Swansea. Robert’s nagging off-spin and assertive batting was a feature of the Welsh county’s success in winning the Sunday League title in 1993 and, four years later, these skills were to the fore again as Glamorgan won the 1997 County Championship with Robert scoring a quick-fire 86 in the title-clinching match at Taunton, as Glamorgan defeated Somerset by ten wickets to become county champions for the third time in their history.
By this time, Robert had made his Test Match debut, winning his first England cap against Pakistan in August 1996, with his first appearance for England mirroring his debut for the Welsh county by taking place at The Oval. Indeed, 1996 was a very special year for Robert as he won Glamorgan’s Player of the Year Award, before going on England’s winter tours to Zimbabwe and New Zealand. In 1997 Robert played in five of the Tests in the Ashes series against Australia before going on the winter tours to Sharjah and the West Indies. The following summer, Robert played an important role with the bat in the series against South Africa, with the Welshman making an unbeaten 37 in a gritty last-wicket stand with Angus Fraser, which saved England from an innings defeat. Robert also featured in the opening Test of the 1998/99 Ashes series, playing against Australia at Brisbane.
After these outstanding performances for Glamorgan and England, Robert was awarded a Benefit Year by Glamorgan in 2000 – a summer which also saw Robert feature in England’s Test series with the West Indies, as well as being a member of the Glamorgan side that reached the final of the Benson and Hedges Cup at Lord’s. The following winter, Robert played in three Tests for England in Sri Lanka, before making his 21st, and final, appearance in Test cricket in the third match of the 2001 Ashes series at Trent Bridge.
2001 also saw Robert play a leading role in helping Glamorgan secure the Division Two title in the National League and, the following year, the Welsh county went one stage better as they lifted the 2002 National League, with Glamorgan winning the Division One title at Canterbury with a victory over Kent in a match which saw Robert standing in as the team’s leader, owing to an injury sustained by Club captain, Steve James. The following year, Robert took over the captaincy on a full-time basis and in 2004 he led the side to the one-day title again.
Indeed, Robert posted a match-winning century against Lancashire at Colwyn Bay in August – one of a dozen hundreds he has struck for Glamorgan in four-day and one-day cricket – as the Welsh county cinched the title, besides producing a series of excellent performances with bat and ball, which saw the Glamorgan Dragons reach Finals Day of the Twenty20 competition. Robert was also the leading all-rounder in English first-class cricket in 2004, with 712 runs and 57 wickets – an achievement which saw Robert win, once again, the Club’s Player of the Year Award.
Robert continued to be an important member of the Glamorgan side during the early 2000s, as well as achieving a number of personal milestones, most notably in July 2010 when he took his 1,000th first-class wicket for Glamorgan, during the Welsh county’s match with Leicestershire at Swansea. Later in August, he also claimed his first hat-trick for the Club in their victory against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham with the off-spinner ending the contest with three wickets in consecutive balls.
Robert’s final match was Glamorgan’s Championship encounter in mid-September 2012 against Kent at Cardiff. It was his 364th appearance for the Club in first-class cricket, and he claimed a wicket with his final ball for Glamorgan. Robert then joined the county’s coaching staff, initially as an assistant before succeeding Toby Radford as Head Coach for 2016. He was in charge until the end of 2018 and during his tenure he saw the Welsh county in 2017 reach their first T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston since 2004.
CROFT, Robert Damien Bale
Born – Morriston, 25th May, 1970.
Best performances for Glamorgan:
In first-class cricket – 143 v Somerset at Taunton, 1995; 8/66 v Warwickshire at Swansea, 1992.
In List A cricket – 143 v Lincolnshire at Lincoln, 2004; 6/20 v Worcestershire at Sophia Gardens, 1994.
In T20 cricket – 62* v Gloucestershire at Sophia Gardens, 2005; 3/9 v Somerset at Sophia Gardens, 2011.