Lawrence Williams - A tribute

27 May 2023 | Cricket

Glamorgan Cricket is very saddened to hear of the passing on 26 May after a short illness of Lawrence Williams, a member of the Welsh county’s Championship-winning squad of 1969. (writes Andrew Hignell)

Born in Tonna on 20 November 1946, Lawrence was educated at Neath County Grammar School and progressed from youth and club cricket for Ynysygerwn to 2nd XI cricket for Glamorgan in 1965. The right-arm seamer joined the county’s full-time staff in 1969 following the serious injury sustained by Jeff Jones as well as Ossie Wheatley’s decision to go into semi-retirement. Lawrence, who was dubbed as ‘The Tonna Terror’, soon made an impact in county cricket, claiming 5/30 against Gloucestershire at Sophia Gardens as the Welsh county recorded a decisive victory against the West Country side who had spent much of the 1969 season on top of the Championship table. Thanks to Lawrence’s spell, and some excellent swing bowling from his new ball partner Malcolm Nash, the victory over Gloucestershire provided the launchpad for Glamorgan’s successful push for the county title.

In all, Lawrence claimed a highly creditable 56 wickets in first-class cricket in 1969 as Tony Lewis’ team lifted the county crown. He bettered this tally during 1970 as he took 61 wickets, and besides claiming a career-best return of 7/60 against Lancashire at Blackpool. He also featured in a Glamorgan side which recorded a rare Championship victory on Yorkshire soil as they won by five wickets at Middlesbrough.

1971 saw Lawrence being awarded his Glamorgan cap during a season which saw the bowler excel in the Sunday League with a Club record of 33 wickets. His annus mirabilis in the 40-over competition included spells of 4/21 against Leicestershire at Neath and 5/31 against Surrey at Byfleet, with his efforts earning him a place in the England Under 25 XI which met an England XI at Scarborough at the end of the season.

Lawrence took 55 first-class wickets during 1972 and 1973, and during the latter season, he claimed a career-best match haul of 11/120 against Kent at Swansea. He reveled in the bowler-friendly conditions at St. Helen’s and on the opening day of the three-day contest took 6/67. A violent thunderstorm broke over the ground the following evening, leaving the entire outfield under water. Thankfully, the surface water quickly drained away and the following morning, with the tide coming in and with warm sunshine, there was still plenty of moisture in the air to assist him as the 26 year-old took 5/53 prior to the Glamorgan batters completing an eight-wicket victory.

For the third successive summer, Lawrence ended 1974 with 55 first-class wickets with Lawrence effectively switching to first change following the acquisition of Greg Armstrong, the West Indian pace bowler. He only made a trio of first-class appearances during 1975 as he struggled with injuries in both his upper and lower torso. He appeared in further Championship and one-day matches in 1976 and 1977 but, with the presence of all-rounders Collis King, Tom Cartwright and Rodney Ontong in the Glamorgan squad, Lawrence opted to call time on his county career at the end of 1977 with 363 first-class wickets to his name at an average of 27, plus 194 in List A cricket. A left-handed batter of modest pretentions, his highest Championship score had been an unbeaten 37 against Essex at Chelmsford, 1969.

Lawrence duly returned to club cricket in South Wales and continued to be a leading performer, besides appearing in the representative matches staged by the South Wales Cricket Association, for whom he had first played as a sixteen year-old during 1963. Between 1980 and 1985 Lawrence also played for Wales. After retiring from working with the local council, Lawrence also acted as the groundsperson at Ynysygerwn, besides being a regular face at the annual gatherings of the Glamorgan Former Players’ Association.

On hearing of the news, Hugh Morris, the Chief Executive Officer of Glamorgan Cricket said, “we are all very sad at Glamorgan Cricket to hear of the passing of another member of our 1969 County Championship-winning squad and a man who, in many guises, has been a stalwart figure in club cricket for so many years. He will be sadly missed by his former colleagues, as well as by the supporters of Glamorgan Cricket, plus his wide circle of friends throughout Welsh cricket.”