Sam Lowe was the first English-born professional to consistently perform with credit for Glamorgan in Minor County cricket, besides being the first bowler for the Welsh county to perform a hat-trick in the competition.
The fast-medium seam bowler first came to the attention of the Welsh county whilst playing for Nottinghamshire Colts, and during July 1894 he had been invited to play in the South Wales side against an XI chosen by EM Grace of Gloucestershire to raise funds for the relief effort associated with the explosions at Albion Colliery. The 26 year-old claimed 5/22 and whilst in South Wales was sounded out about a professional position with Cardiff and, inter alia, the Glamorgan club for 1895.
Aware of this offer, he was chosen by Nottinghamshire the following month for their County Championship fixture against Lancashire at Old Trafford. Sam went wicketless in this match – which proved to be his sole first-class appearance – and after playing for Nottinghamshire Colts against the Yorkshire Colts at Bramall Lane, Sheffield in May 1895, and no likelihood of a 1st XI place, he moved to South Wales and played for Glamorgan in their friendlies that summer against the South Wales CC, the MCC and Vernon Hill’s XI. He impressed in these games, as well as for Cardiff, and duly secured a full-time position with both club and county for 1896.
His first full summer in South Wales saw Sam claim a total of 35 wickets, including 8/96 against Surrey 2nd XI, but it was the following summer – Glamorgan`s first as a Minor County – when he hit the headlines against Cornwall at Swansea as he claimed the Club’s first hat-trick and guided them to their first win in the new competition.
Sam could generate pace from most surfaces, even on the slow St. Helen`s wicket: the venue for his hat-trick against Cornwall in 1897. His feat was described as follows by the South Wales Daily News – “Hosking, who had laboured for twenty minutes for just one was caught in the slips off Lowe, who had had downright bad luck to date. But with his next ball, the Cardiff bowler knocked over the middle stump of Colville-Smith, the Cornwall captain, and with his next, he bowled Trevarthen, so performing the hat-trick and gaining unstinted applause from the small band of spectators who had gathered at the St. Helen`s ground.”
Glamorgan had batted disappointingly in their first innings, but Sam`s efforts secured an 11-run lead. However, the Welsh county fared much better in their second innings with Billy Bancroft and Bertie Letcher each making attractive fifties before Cornwall were left with a target of 259 in the three hours and twenty minutes that remained. It seemed a reasonable target, but they collapsed in dramatic fashion within the space of just three-quarters of an hour, and were bowled out for a paltry 25. Sam took five further wickets, as did William Lambert, and the Nottinghamshire man then led the Glamorgan side off the field to a standing ovation from the Swansea faithful as the Welsh county secured their first win in the Minor County Championship.
Sam’s most successful season with Glamorgan came during 1901 when he claimed 80 wickets at 11 runs apiece and claimed nine five-wicket hauls during a fine summer with the ball. After a twelve-wicket haul against Monmouthshire at Cardiff in July, plus eleven wickets in the game at the same ground with Wiltshire, Sam took a career-best 8/37 at the Arms Park against Wiltshire during the first week of August before three weeks later at the same ground taking 7/77 against the South Africans.
The following year, Sam claimed 42 wickets and played his final game for the Welsh county against Devon at Exeter in the August of a summer which had seen the seam bowler also turn down a lucrative contract with a club in South Africa. He remained in South Wales acting as groundsman-professional to Cardiff CC until 1906.
Born – Kirkby-in-Ashfield, 19 July 1867.
Died – Kirkby-in-Ashfield, 29 March 1947.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 35* v Berkshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1902 and 8/37 v Wiltshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1901.
Minor County Friendlies – 36* v Surrey 2nd XI at Cardiff Arms Park, 1898 and 7/30 v Cornwall at Truro, 1899.