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Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Thursday, 22 July 2010 14:35 UK

Croft claims magical landmark

Robert Croft takes a wicket for Glamorgan
Another one bites the dust as veteran spinner Robert Croft strikes for Glamorgan

by Nick Webb
BBC Sport Wales

On Monday 7 August 1989, Surrey and England batsman Graham Thorpe was caught by his former county team-mate Alan Butcher, who had moved on to captain Glamorgan.

It was a routine dismissal in a routine County Championship match which petered out into a routine draw. But for the teenage bowler Robert Croft, it was the first step on a long and winding - or should that be turning? - road towards a thousand first-class wickets spread across more than two decades.

Of that team, Hugh Morris is busy running the England and Wales Cricket Board, Butcher is the coach of Zimbabwe, Matthew Maynard and Steve Watkin are coaching Glamorgan, and Colin Metson is on the committee.

See Croft's achievement

But Croft, now 40, still keeps churning out the overs even though the Maynard playing outrageous shots these days is Matthew's son Tom.

He became the fourth Glamorgan bowler to reach 1,000 first-class wickets for the county, joining the peerless Don Shepherd, Jack Mercer and Johnnie Clay.

It came on Thursday during Glamorgan's County Championship clash against Leicestershire at St Helen's in Swansea.

"As much as anything to do it down where the 'old lady' is, down here at St Helen's [is special]," Croft said.

"It's looked after me very well over the years, it was always a game that I've looked forward to, it's held dear. "Look at the history it holds in Glamorgan cricket and it always has a part to play and it's played its part again today."

Croft will probably be the last 1,000-wicket man given the reduced emphasis on Championship cricket these days - and he is the first to combine the landmark with 10,000 first-class runs.

Not that he is worried about holding that record. "You do work long and hard to get to positions where records are broken, but hopefully it will get broken - it'll be there for some Welsh kid to want to emulate and go past," says Croft.

"There have been some memorable scalps playing for Glamorgan.

"You remember your first, Graham Thorpe at the Oval - Alan Butcher running back caught him at long-on. I remember my 1,000th in first-class cricket - not just for Glamorgan - Niall O'Brien for Northants lbw, and that's not so long ago.

"And in between I remember the time I got Marcus Trescothick out in 1997 when we won the Championship at Taunton."

His achievements have won the respect of opponents such as Mushtaq Ahmed, the former Sussex and Pakistan spinner, now England's bowling coach.

Robert Croft has flown the flag for Wales with England
Croft has flown the flag for Wales with England

"He deserves to get 1,000, it's a great achievement for him especially as a finger spinner," said Mushtaq. "He's a lovely guy, very funny with a good sense of humour and a good cricketer."

The final part of the road towards 1,000 wickets has been a bumpy one this season - with Croft omitted from Championship games for what seems the first time in living memory, and left-armer Dean Cosker preferred in several games where Glamorgan have opted for only one spinner.

But Croft rolled back the years in the Twenty20 competition, taking more than twice as many wickets as his nearest challenger. And he proved more economical than ever, conceding less than a run a ball - quite an achievement in the frantic world of the sport's shortest format.

He was still left out of the Championship match at Northampton - and captain Jamie Dalrymple wryly acknowledged that was not a popular decision with some followers who wanted to witness the landmark.

"I noticed a few people at Northampton I wouldn't have expected on day one and I kept my back firmly turned when he wasn't playing," admitted Dalrymple.

It cannot be the easiest relationship for any captain and a predecessor, but the omission made it all the more appropriate as Croft collected the three wickets he needed at the St Helen's ground where he learnt his trade.

606: DEBATE

Despite batting lower down the order these days - Croft proved his fielding is still up to scratch with a stunning caught-and-bowled in a recent T20 game and he is also keen to emphasise his desire for more wickets after the four-figure mark, this season and next.

"I don't see this as the end, I want to keep playing, my hunger is still there and my fitness is still there.

"I want to keep contributing to Glamorgan cricket, I want to keep going because when you finish you can't go back," he said.



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see also
Croft reaches 1,000-wicket mark
22 Jul 10 |  Glamorgan
Croft wicket landmark bid foiled
07 Jun 10 |  Counties
Croft takes captaincy reins
02 May 03 |  Glamorgan
Croft back for England
11 Dec 00 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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