This is Yorkshire’s first visit to Wales to play a Championship match for nine years and the first time it has played at Cardiff in the competition since 1998. Yorkshire has played at six different grounds in Wales but did not play at Sophia Gardens until 1968, Cardiff’s regular venue up to that time being Arms Park. Paul Dyson looks back at a close, low-scoring game there in the 1950s.
August 28, 29, 1957 at Cardiff Arms Park: Yorkshire 99 (DJ Shepherd 7-30) & 146 (DJ Shepherd 5-46); Glamorgan 73 (R Appleyard 5-18, R Illingworth 5-31) & 168 (B Hedges 55, R Illingworth 4-63, R Appleyard 4-66). Yorkshire won by four runs.
For both counties this was the final match of the Championship season. Neither county was in with a chance of winning the title but Glamorgan would finish in mid-table and Yorkshire were bound to finish as one of the counties close to the top of the table.
Yorkshire won the toss, decided to bat and were soon in trouble, slipping to 30 for three, two of these to the off-spin of Don Shepherd. Skipper Billy Sutcliffe then shared a stand of 31 with Vic Wilson and this turned out to be the longest of the innings. But, with the pitch starting to ‘crumble after the opening overs’ (Wisden) Shepherd continued to wreak havoc. Sutcliffe’s 33 became the highest score of the innings as three wickets fell for four runs to make the score 80 for seven and, later, the final three wickets fell for three runs to leave Yorkshire all out for one run short of the century-mark. Only four batsmen made double figures and Shepherd finished with seven for 30.
Glamorgan, at first, found things easier than Yorkshire had done; its batsmen began with on opening stand of 35 but two more off-spinners – Bob Appleyard and Ray Illingworth – started to get a grip and five wickets fell for the addition of 22 runs. The tail collapsed completely, the last five wickets falling for a mere six runs and Yorkshire had an unexpected lead of 26. Opener Bernard Hedges had top-scored with 25 and Illingworth and Appleyard each finished with five wickets. Matters continued in the same manner when Yorkshire batted for a second time. Again, Sutcliffe shared in the highest stand of the innings (35 with Bryan Stott), again Shepherd dominated the wicket-taking and the visitors had reached 83 for five by close of play. Of the 25 wickets to fall in the day only two (both to medium-fast bowlers) had not been taken by off-spin.
On the second day Wilson, Illingworth and Fred Trueman each made a score of more than 20, as had also Stott, to make sure that Yorkshire extended its innings into one which would challenge Glamorgan to make the highest score of the match to win. Shepherd finished with five more wickets to give him a match-analysis of 12 for 76 (still the record for Glamorgan against Yorkshire) and his team needed 173 to win. Glamorgan’s opening batsmen then produced the best batting of the game. Gilbert Parkhouse (43) and Hedges (55) shared a partnership of 95 in no less than 65 minutes – an astonishing performance in the context of the match. Yorkshire struck back, however, and three wickets fell while the scoreboard was stuck on 130. Allan Watkins guided the total further until only 17 were needed and six wickets still remained. It was then that Yorkshire’s off-spinners re-found their form and Sutcliffe, who was playing in the final Championship match of his career, decided to try something different. Trueman bowled a wicket-maiden and when the ninth wicket fell only five runs were required. David Pickles, a fast bowler in his first season, was given his first bowl of the match and in a moment of high drama struck the off stump of wicket-keeper Haydn Davies with his third ball and Yorkshire had won by four runs. Appleyard and Illingworth each finished with four wickets and nine for the match. The fixture had concluded before the tea interval on the second day.
Glamorgan finished the season in ninth place with ten wins and nine defeats (all 17 counties played 28 matches) which was an improvement of four places on its previous season. Yorkshire won 13 and lost only four but finished a colossal 122 points behind champions Surrey and 28 behind Northamptonshire. Third place also represented an improvement of four places on its 1956 position.
As mentioned above, Billy Sutcliffe, who was playing in his final Championship match, top-scored in Yorkshire’s first innings, making exactly one-third of his side’s total.