Not even Roald Dahl, author of Tales of the Unexpected, could have dreamt up a scenario which unfolded at Derby on the opening two days in mid-July during the County Championship encounter between Derbyshire and Glamorgan.
In fact ‘Tails of the Unexpected’ might be a more apt description for the quite bizarre events on days one and two of the contest as, for the first time in County Championship history, the match saw the tenth wicket pair on each side share a century stand during their first innings.
On the opening day Jon Clare and Mark Turner added 104 in 14.3 overs for the tenth wicket for Derbyshire. Coming together on 256 at the start of the 67th over, the pair put the Glamorgan attack to the sword in quite remarkable fashion, especially as earlier in the innings Clare had played and missed at the Glamorgan seamers with almost regular monotony.
With his final partner at the other end, Clare opted for the long handle striking 18 fours and two sixes as he made a career-best 130 from 144 deliveries. Turner also struck four fours as they took the total to 360 in the 81st over before Clare holed out to Dean Cosker on the boundary’s edge.
Glamorgan then lost early wickets, slipping to 69 for 5 in the 23rd over before Mark Wallace and Jim Allenby each scored hundreds and added 217 in 48.3 overs to put their side back into the game. A series of wickets then tumbled before last pair James Harris and Will Owen came together with Glamorgan on 324 for 9 and Derbyshire contemplating a first innings lead.
These thoughts swiftly proved fanciful as both batsmen adopted a forthright approach, adding 121 in 21.2 overs – a tenth wicket record for Glamorgan against Derbyshire – with Harris posting a 70-ball fifty and Owen a maiden Championship half-century from 62 balls.
The latter also struck a couple of massive sixes and was just another six hit away from making the highest-ever score by a Glamorgan number 11 when, on 69, he hoisted the spin of Chesney Hughes into Martin Guptill’s hands at deep mid-wicket.
Besides being the first time in first-class cricket in the UK that each side had posted a century stand for the tenth wicket it is also only the second time in the history of the game. The previous occurrence was in February 1913 in the match between the MCC tourists and Barbados at the Kensington Oval.
On that occasion, Percy Tarilton and Harry Ince added exactly 100 in the Barbados first innings, before Arthur Somerset and Razor Smith shared a stand of 167 in MCC’s second innings, with Smith posting a career-best 126 before the game ended in an innings victory for Barbados.