Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 15:28 UK
1964/68: And We Were Singing

As Cardiff hosts the First Ashes Test, here's the story of how Glamorgan became the first county to beat the Australians on successive tours.

By Andrew Hignell
Author, The Australian Cricketers in Wales

Don Shepherd and Eifion Jones clinch Glamorgan's second successive victory over the Australians in 1968
Don Shepherd and Eifion Jones clinch victory over the Australians in 1968

They say records are there to be broken. When Bobby Simpson and his fellow Australians arrived in the UK for the 1964 tour, only one county team - the mighty Surrey side of the 1950s - could claim to have beaten an Australian touring team since 1912.

And by the time Simpson and his men arrived in Swansea, they had maintained their unbeaten record in the county games; what is more, in the Test series, they were already one-up.

Glamorgan, enjoying a modest season - with just three wins from twenty Championship matches - seemed a pretty innocuous threat.

But, with an inexperienced side, as captain Ossie Wheatley opted to rest several senior players, Glamorgan turned the form book upside down.

Few in the crowd of around 20,000 would have fancied a home win as the Welsh county were bundled out for 197 in their fist innings, but after a short shower had freshened up the Swansea wicket, Don Shepherd and Jim Pressdee produced a magnificent spell of bowling as Australia slumped to 39-6, with the cream of their batting talent sent packing by Glamorgan's spin twins.

It wasn't just the fans in the historic Swansea ground who were cheering on their bowlers.

The National Eisteddfod was being held just a mile or so down the road from the ground, and its organisers had showed great enterprise in arranging for a few televisions to be placed around the tented village.

These sets drew an ever-increasing crowd as word of Glamorgan's fightback spread around the maes, resulting in hundreds of patriotic Welshmen and women eager to catch a glimpse of the flickering black-and-white images, courtesy of the coverage provided by BBC Wales.

Tony Lewis
Tony Lewis was one of the stars of Glamorgan's victory in 1964

The following evening the two teams assembled on the stage at the Eisteddfod, with 'Shep' and 'Pres' being greeted by a thunderous ovation from the fervent crowd. As Shepherd later recalled, "after going up on the stage, we were so full of hwyl that there was no way we were going to lose that match."

The following morning, they duly polished off Australia for 101, before batting again with Tony Lewis and Alan Rees scoring freely to leave the visitors with a tricky target of 268 on the wearing surface.

By the close of play on the second night, Australia fought back in reaching 75-1, and as the crowd returned home on the Bank Holiday evening, it looked as if their dream of a Welsh victory had evaporated once again.

But the following morning, the home side fought back with Shepherd giving little away in a superb spell. The youthful Glamorgan side also excelled in the field with Tony Lewis taking a superb running catch in the deep, whilst Alan Rees took a fine catch waist-high at mid-wicket as the tourists slipped to 207-6.

Eifion Jones, the reserve wicket-keeper, also made some telling contributions behind the stumps as the pressure became too much for the Australian tailenders.

Despite the intense heat, and a touch or two of cramp, Shepherd and Pressdee continued to infuriate the visitors, and as the seventh, eighth and ninth wickets fell, the Glamorgan side - and the crowd of nearly 15,000 - held their breath as history beckoned.

With 37 runs still to make, Eifion Jones then caught Neil Hawke, before what seemed like half the population of the Principality surged onto the field and then took part in an unscripted, but very Celtic celebration to rival anything that had taken place on the Eisteddfod maes the previous weekend.

The champagne corks popped and speeches were made by Ossie Wheatley and his jubilant Glamorgan team, and with the songs growing louder and louder by the minute, it became clear to any doubters that it wasn't just Glamorgan who had beaten the Australians, it was Wales too!

1968 - What's new about being beaten by Glamorgan?

Don Shepherd and Australian captain Barry Jarman address the crowd after Glamorgan's victory in 1968
Victor and vanquished - Don Shepherd and Australian captain Barry Jarman address the crowd following the 1968 match

Four years later, Glamorgan became the first county team to defeat the Australians on consecutive tours.

By this time Tony Lewis had taken over the captaincy from Ossie Wheatley, but the gifted strokemaker was taken ill shortly before the game, and it was his trusty lieutenant, Don Shepherd, who led the side in the field.

The subsequent victory was a tribute to Shep's guile and experience, as the visitors struggled again on yet another slow Swansea wicket.

The surface though had lost some of its spite from previous years, and with less spin, batting was much easier at St Helen's.

After winning the toss and batting first, Glamorgan were indebted to a magnificent 99 from Alan Jones, their fine left-handed opening batsman, as they made 224, whilst Majid Khan, their newly recruited batsman from Pakistan, made a typically sublime half-century.

Malcolm Nash
Malcolm Nash helped skittle out the Australians for 110 in their first innings

As in 1964, the Australians lost cheap wickets on the Saturday evening as they slipped to 80-6 in the face of some clever left-arm bowling from Malcolm Nash. He produced some sharp in-swing which, allied to his priceless knack of being able to drift the ball the other way, confounded the illustrious Australian batsmen who yielded a first-innings lead of 114 to Shepherd and his merry men.

With the wicket still maintaining its benign character, the instructions from the acting captain were for quick runs, and half centuries from Roger Davis and West Indian recruit Bryan Davis helped Glamorgan to extend the lead to 364, before 'Shep' declared to leave the Aussies all of the final day to chase this target.

With clear blue skies, the Swansea ground was packed to the rafters shortly before the start of the last day's play, with everyone hoping that the Glamorgan side could record another famous victory.

But the game was very different to the encounter in 1964, as 'Shep' reasoned that Glamorgan's best chance of winning was for the Australians to think they could get the runs, rather than shutting up shop and blocking out for a draw.

Like a chess grand master, the wily spinner cleverly rotated his bowling as the Australians watchfully accumulated against the enthusiastic Glamorgan team, with Paul Sheahan, their number-four batsman, recording a fighting century.

But wickets steadily fell, sometimes with bad balls, as in Sheahan's case when he drilled a delivery from Peter Walker straight back to the bowler.

With a career tally of 697 first-class victims and a reputation as one of the greatest fielders in the county game, Walker was not going to miss out, and his catch turned the game in Glamorgan's favour.

With the lower order exposed, and with the ball starting to turn, there was a flurry of lusty boundaries, but to the delight of the home crowd, the fours and sixes were accompanied by wickets as the enthusiastic Glamorgan fielders held every chance that came their way, and when Dave Renneberg's holed out to Majid, Glamorgan had won by 79 runs.

An ecstatic crowd swarm onto the field after Glamorgan's victory in 1968
An ecstatic crowd swarm onto the field after Glamorgan's victory in 1968

Welsh hymns were soon echoing around the ground yet again, together with a rendition of Waltzing Matilda before Don Shepherd and his players addressed the crowd to celebrate another defining moment in Welsh sporting history.

After sustained applause for 'Shep' in recognition of his wily captaincy, Barry Jarman - the Australian skipper - also spoke to the crowd and the biggest cheer of the day came when he began by saying "What's new about being beaten by Glamorgan?"

This is an extract from The Australian Cricketers in Wales by Andrew Hignell, published by Gomer - more details about the book

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