The St Helen’s ground in Swansea holds a very special place in the memories of Glamorgan supporters as it was at the ground overlooking Swansea Bay that the Welsh county defeated the Australians on consecutive tours in 1964 and 1968.
Fifty years ago this August, Don Shepherd – a legend in the annals of Glamorgan County Cricket Club – equalled the world record for the fastest fifty, again against the 1961 Australians, while last summer Robert Croft, another Welsh legend, took his 1,000th first-class wicket for Glamorgan.
This year’s visit by Glamorgan to West Wales for their LV=County Championship match against Northamptonshire saw another local cricketing hero reach a significant career milestone as James Harris, aged 21 years and 72 days, took his 200th wicket in first-class cricket when he claimed the wicket of Rob Newton in the visitors’ first innings on the second day.
Only 24 bowlers in the history of the game worldwide have reached this landmark at a younger age than the bowler from Pontarddulais, with the English record being held by Kent’s Derek Underwood who took his 200th wicket at the age of 19 years and 86 days.
Among other English bowlers to claim 200 first-class wickets before their 21st birthday have been Nottinghamshire’s Bill Voce (20 years and 13 days), Surrey’s Pat Pocock (20 years and 259 days) and Worcestershire’s Reg Perks (20 years and 318 days).
The match against Northamptonshire at Swansea is Harris’s 56th first-class match. In terms of the number of matches to reach 200 scalps, Allan Steel of Lancashire and England holds the record – and is destined to do so for eternity – for the fewest number of games to reach a double century of wickets, having reached the landmark in his 25th game.
Others to reach 200 first-class wickets in less than fifty matches have been Gloucestershire leg-spinner Charles Townsend (29), Australian paceman JJ Ferris (35), England legend WG Grace (38), Leicestershire’s George Geary (35) and George Lohmann (40), the Surrey and England fast bowler.
Another young England cricketer – 22 year-old Chris Woakes of Warwickshire – is also poised to reach the 200-wicket mark with the seamer currently on 199 first-class wickets when Warwickshire start their LV=County Championship encounter with Lancashire on August 1 at Liverpool.