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COWBRIDGE CRICKET CLUB


Cowbridge Cricket Club’s Centurions

A little while ago, we noted in our lauding of current Cowbridge 1st XI openers, Tom Merilaht and Ben Wright that they had each scored 10 hundreds for Cowbridge, one of Ben’s being a double century.

At the time, I commented that these two probably held the Club record for amassing the greatest number of three figure scores. I did point out that the records were not entirely trustworthy and there might be some long-forgotten scorebooks lying in a cluttered garage or dusty loft that held the secrets of seasons long past.

This was enough of a hint to galvanise into action the Club’s super sleuth, Malcolm Woolley.

Floorboards were ripped up, walls demolished and roofs taken away to allow forensic examination in the event that they might be hiding the 1910 batting average of the venerable Dr  Marwood.

The end of the process arrived when Malcolm’s family refused to allow a newly-discovered pair of the Reverend Owen Jones’s old socks into the house. Never mind, a grin had by now appeared across his bearded features.

It was a grin that Crick and Watson might have been guilty of when they celebrated their discovery of DNA in a Cambridge pub. It was the teasing smile of a man who knows something that nobody else does. “What is this hidden pearl?” we asked the club’s former wicket-keeper.

Then, with the flourish of someone opening an envelope at the Oscars ceremony, our latter - day Indiana Jones revealed the name of the man who has scored the greatest number of centuries for Cowbridge, as recorded in the scorebooks that are available for inspection.

William ‘Billy’ Russell was that man and his record is 11, two of which were double hundreds, all accumulated in the period between 1898 and 1903. The team that Billy represented was actually the E H Ebsworth XI but as that was a strand that was woven into what became the Club that we all know today, it would be ungenerous to Billy’s memory not to allow his centuries to be counted.

It has been said that among all of Cowbridge’s professionals, Russell was indeed the greatest. It is fitting then that more than a century after his death in 1908; Billy is still remembered through the “call to play” bell mounted on the clubhouse in his memory.

A close second on the list of worthy Cowbridge centurions are our present first team openers, Tom and Ben, sitting some way ahead of the man whose memory is enshrined in the Fred Dunn Memorial Gates.

Fred is recorded as having made five hundreds, his first coming in 1910 against Whitchurch Heath, his last 19 years later against Penarth.

In terms of 1st XI hundreds, many of the great names of Cowbridge Cricket Club can be found there. Inevitably, some statistics do look wrong. Did J A Davies score only three hundreds?

Where are Roger Morris and Dr Moynan on the list? Norman Gauntlett and Andy Daniels are remembered for scoring their first two centuries in consecutive weeks but did they not score any others?

There are some multiple century scorers who did it at 2nd and 3rd XI level. Here, pride of place goes to John Brazier and Andrew Newark who lead the way with four apiece while Guy Parker and Francis Davies are each credited with three.

Four sets of fathers and sons have made hundreds for the Club: Gerald and Steve Leeke, Richard and Matthew Smart (two) and the Williams family who, remarkably, can boast three generations of Club centurions. Tip himself, son Steve and grandson, John Morgan. The latter made 135 on his debut against the South Wales Hunts, a wandering club that Tip had helped establish.

Rhys Williams scored 130 in an 1840 Cup game while his father, Club Chairman Hugh got 109 at Hills Plymouth in the same 2nd XI game that Jeff Gibb also reached three figures.

However, the famous day in 1947 when Neil Brown (107) and future Glamorgan player Aubrey Edwards (138) put Cardiff to the sword eclipses most others as a high point of Cowbridge cricket.

Three Wales rugby internationals have their names on the register of Club centurions. In addition to Rhys Williams, two Old Llandoverians, Vivian Jenkins and Arthur Jones also make the list.

However, there is one innings that was perhaps the most extraordinary of them all. The game was an ‘A’ XI friendly fixture against Whitchurch Heath played on the School Field on Saturday, 25th August 1973.

It was a very warm day and Cowbridge were struggling at 35 for 7. Enter Anthony Davies, known even today as ‘Nat The Cat’ on account of his goal-keeping prowess. Armed with an ancient bat held together with tape and tin tacks, Nat proceeded to hit nine sixes and eight fours in a remarkable display of hitting that had the residents of The Verlands running for cover.

Three cricket balls were hit clean out of the ground and could not be found. Nat’s score of 108 not out took Cowbridge to a respectable 178 all out with Llewellyn Davies (16), ‘extras’ (13) and Chris Davies (10) being the team’s next highest  contributors to the total.

In the Whitchurch reply, Anthony Taylor took four for 24 restricting the opposition to 134 for eight. Game drawn!

All of the men on the Club’s centurions list have achieved something special. Irrespective whether it be for the 1st XI or during a touring game, in a 2nds fixture or an ‘A’ XI friendly, there is no such thing as a bad hundred.


JRB

Mounted on the clubhouse wall, Billy’s Bell is rung to call cricketers to play. The bell commemorates professional cricketer and groundsman, William ‘Billy’ Russell, who hit 11 centuries for the E H Ebsworth XI, a team which evolved into Cowbridge Cricket Club.

Tom Merilaht (Left)and Ben Wright have both scored 10 hundreds for Cowbridge 1st XI and will be looking to add to their achievements during this season and beyond.

Fred Dunn (Right) scored five centuries for Cowbridge between 1910 and 1929.