My favourite game - Ed Bevan

17 May 2020 | Cricket

Viv’s Farewell Brings Victory at Canterbury - Ed Bevan

After 37 years covering Glamorgan, it was a difficult decision to decide on the best game I had watched, but I finally decided that in the context of ”a game”, that would be a contest that started and ended in a day.

The year was 1993 and Glamorgan had not won any sort of a competition for 24 years, when Tony Lewis led them to their second County Championship title. Fate had brought Kent and Glamorgan, the two top teams, together in the 50-over AXA Equity and Law League in a winner-take-all contest at the St. Lawrence ground in Canterbury.

In those days the County Championship games would take place during the opening three days, the one day game on a Sunday followed by the final County Championship day on the next day. Glamorgan had spent a day and a half in the field on Friday and Saturday, as Kent racked up 524 for 6 before declaring.

I always stayed at The Bat and Ball Inn at Canterbury, a pleasant hostelry across the road from the ground. On the morning of the game I was woken up at around 4.30, and as I looked through the window there were cars parked on the road with police in attendance.

There was no incident, only supporters arriving at the beginning of what would be a momentous day of cricket. At mid-day the ground was full, thousands of Glamorgan supporters were in attendance and a jazz band played to create a wonderful occasion.

Kent won the toss and batted, and despite losing an early wicket, Matthew Fleming and Carl Hooper shared a useful partnership. However, after the West Indian Test batsman had fallen to Steve Barwick’s slower ball, the other batsmen were contained by an accurate attack and the last five wickets fell for fourteen runs, meaning a target of 201 was well within Glamorgan’s reach.

The reliable Steve James went cheaply, but Hugh Morris and Adrian Dale took the score to 84 before Duncan Spencer, born in Burnley but brought up in Australia, bowled as quick a spell that Glamorgan’ batsmen had encountered all season if not in their careers.

Dale, after playing and missing at the first three balls from Spencer, was out at the other end before Matthew Maynard, who had been a doubt before the game with a neck injury, was out to Spencer shortly afterwards. Morris top scored with 67, and when he was out Glamorgan had two new batsmen at the crease.

Then followed 20 minutes of drama as Vivian Richards, in his last but one innings of his career (he would play his final knock the following day) sauntered on to the field to the biggest reception I have ever seen on a cricket ground.

The spectators around the ground rose as one and applauded him until he was at the crease. It was incredibly emotional to describe the moment, and I decided to let the listeners enjoy and capture it.

The drama continued as Spencer raced in, struck Viv on the shoulder, beat him outside the off stump and then struck him on the chest. The home crowd roared, Glamorgan’s supporters went quiet and even quieter when Spencer bowled the West Indies greatest batsman a short ball that Viv pulled - not to the boundary but gently up into the air where it was easily caught.

What an anti-climax we thought, but unseen to many, umpire David Constant had his arm outstretched, signalling a no-ball as Viv turned to the pavilion. That was effectively that for Kent as Richards soon settled and with Tony Cottey an able partner, the two put on 60 to win the game with 14 balls to spare.

Cue pandemonium, as the crowd surrounded the balcony. Viv was in tears in the dressing room and the singing started.

A heavy night of Welsh celebration started, as we reflected on a memorable occasion when, on a glorious September afternoon, Glamorgan had started what would be the beginning of a successful era, culminating in a third championship success four years later.

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