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Throughout the 1990s, batsmen were Waqared © AFP

When Waqar Younis was on song, few national batting line-ups could handle him; domestic teams had no chance. Michael Jones looks back to two matches in 1997, in which Waqar took a combined 15 wickets for 42 in two consecutive innings — and put Glamorgan on their way to the County Championship title.

Only a select few players in the history of cricket have added their names to the game’s vocabulary. Bernard Bosanquet’s new delivery, more commonly called a googly, is alternatively referred to as a ‘Bosie’. Vinoo Mankad’s name will be forever associated with the act of running out the non-striker for backing up too far, and more recently Tillakaratne Dilshan gave rise to the ‘Dilscoop’.

But throughout the 1990s, batsmen were Waqared. It generally involved an in-swinging yorker homing in on the crease, either spread-eagling the stumps directly or pinning the batsman so close in front of them that there could be no doubt over the LBW decision.

Perhaps the most notable Waqaring, and certainly one of the most spectacular, was delivered to no less a victim than Brian Lara, at Rawalpindi in November 1997. Lara had sought to dictate proceedings with four, four and two off the previous three balls, but Waqar delivered the perfect riposte: the batsman lost both his wicket and his dignity as, in an attempt to get his feet out of the path of the ball and his bat into it, he fell over in the crease; the ball made contact with neither bat nor pad, but knocked out the leg stump instead.

In an era when little international cricket was played anywhere else during the months of the English season, it was usual for leading international players to play a full season of county cricket in years their country was not touring England, and Waqar had played for Surrey in 1990, 1991 (when he topped both the wicket-taking list and averages with 113 victims at just 14.65 apiece) and 1993 — missing 1992 since Pakistan toured that year.

Glamorgan’s overseas player for 1996 had been the West Indian allrounder Otis Gibson, but he missed much of the season due to injury and although his performance with the bat was respectable, his bowling returns were extremely poor and the county were soon convinced that they would have to look for a new overseas player for the following season.

Matthew Maynard, the captain, discussed the matter with Mike Fatkin, the club secretary. They recalled how the Welsh county had benefited from the signing of Viv Richards in 1993 — not only directly from the runs he scored, but also from the way he lifted the rest of the team with his drive to win, and the increase in crowd numbers generated by the presence of one of the biggest names in the game. In his last season at professional level, Richards came to his adopted county with the stated aim of helping them to win a trophy, and did so: they finished the season as Sunday League champions, their first ever limited-overs title and first silverware of any description since the 1969.

Both Fatkin and Maynard felt that the club would benefit from signing another big name, but this time the balance of the team suggested a fast bowler would be the best option: the county’s home-grown resources were somewhat sparse, with Steve Watkin and Darren Thomas the only specialist seamers, supported by the part-time medium pace of Adrian Dale and Gary Butcher.

They contacted Jonathan Barnett, the agent for a number of big name players, who told them that Waqar was planning another spell in county cricket. There were competing offers, including a potential return to Surrey,but after three seasons with one of the leading county teams, which expected — and was expected  —  to contend for trophies on a regular basis, he was attracted by the challenge of helping a less fancied side to exceed expectations. Additionally, he admitted to being somewhat tired of the hustle and bustle of London, and sought a quieter life away from the metropolis; Cardiff fitted the bill on both counts.

As well as a new overseas player, Glamorgan had also signed a new coach: Duncan Fletcher had an impressive record in charge of Western Province and South Africa A, and he brought his tactical nous to Wales. He had no previous experience of county cricket, but spent the period before the season picking the brains of those who did, in particular his predecessor John Derrick. When training started, Fletcher barely said a word for the first week, leaving some players wondering if their new coach was mute — but he soon showed that he had been observing and analysing every movement, offering advice on technical improvements the players themselves had failed to identify.

In his first interview on arriving in Cardiff, Waqar made his ambitions clear: “I know how much the club wants to succeed and I will be giving my best to help Glamorgan win trophies — and I am sure we will do that”.

He missed the first game of the season, against Warwickshire, due to a foot injury, but even in his absence the county started how they hoped to continue: Watkin, Thomas and Robert Croft combined to roll the visitors over for 151; Hugh Morris and Steve James took the home side past that total without losing a wicket, and they went on to pile up 551 for 3, a display only marred by Morris being forced to retire hurt on 233 after being struck on the head by Allan Donald. However, the customary Welsh weather ensured that only an hour and a half of play was possible on the third day and none at all on the fourth, enabling Warwickshire to escape with a draw despite finishing 323 runs behind their opponents’ total with 7 wickets remaining.

It was a reflection of Glamorgan’s dominance that their opponents failed to earn a single bonus point — an extremely rare occurrence for a match in which both first innings were completed, since it could only happen if the team were bowled out for under 200 themselves, then failed to take as many as three wickets in the first 130 overs of their opponents’ innings.

Waqar made his debut for the county against Yorkshire in the second match. His first contribution was with the bat: after a spell of five for 11 from Darren Gough had reduced the visitors from 225 for 1 to 252 for 8, largely wiping out the advantage given to them by James’s century on the opening day, Waqar and Steve Watkin hung around long enough to help Robert Croft add 84 for the last two wickets. In his first spell for Glamorgan he removed Anthony McGrath, but didn’t take another wicket in the innings; Croft did most of the damage as they took a lead of 136, but once again rain prevented a decisive result.

At Canterbury, Martin McCague had pegged the visiting team back to 108 for 6, before their overseas fast bowler played an unexpected starring role with the bat. In a low-scoring match, his 47 was worth many more — only one batsman on each side bettered it. Thomas made 46, Watkin 39 and the last 4 wickets added 171. It proved more than enough: Glamorgan won by 87 runs, Croft taking 8 wickets in the match, Waqar and Dean Cosker 4 each.

A home match against Hampshire was their third rain-affected draw from four games: both sides forfeited an innings in an attempt to produce a result, but when Glamorgan declined from 279 for 5 to 286 for 8 in a chase of 310 they decided to bat out for the draw rather than take risks.

The rain held off long enough for Glamorgan to register an innings victory at home against Durham: they piled up a county record total thanks to centuries from James, Morris and Maynard, but the latter’s decision to declare at 597 for 8 left them still the only county never to score 600 (an omission they subsequently rectified with 648 for 4 against Nottinghamshire in 1999, then 718 for 3 against Sussex the following year). Waqar fired for the first time in the season, taking 3 wickets in the first innings and 4 in the second, including the key scalp of the opposition’s overseas player and captain, David Boon, both times.

Waqar, along with several other key players, was rested for the match against Oxford, and the county fielded four First-Class debutants — one of whom, Mike Powell, celebrated the occasion with a double-century. Glamorgan declared with two wickets down in each innings, but the declarations proved to be a bit too generous: the home side chased down a target of 276 to win by 5 wickets, despite losing 14 wickets in the match to their opponents’ four; it was the county’s first loss to a university team since 1930.

There was nothing remarkable about the first two innings of the Championship match against Middlesex: Croft scored 82 and Maynard 59 in Glamorgan’s 281, Jacques Kallis 96 and Mark Ramprakash 63 in the visitors’ reply. They were 3 behind the home team’s total when the ninth wicket fell, but a stand of 41 between Jamie Hewitt and Phil Tufnell gave Middlesex the lead.

Glamorgan went in again after lunch on the third day; Angus Fraser claimed James, Morris and Maynard LBW, Hewitt grabbed a return catch off Dale then added the wickets of Croft and Butcher. At 11 for 6 Glamorgan were in danger of beating their lowest ever total, 22 against Lancashire in their early days as a First-Class county in 1924. Tony Cottey’s 12 avoided that, but could not do much more: last man Watkin made 7 and that was the second-highest score. Hewitt finished with 6 for 14, Fraser 4 for 17, and a-first innings lead of 38 had proved enough for an innings victory. Fletcher’s instinct told him not to take the team to task for the poor performance: it was a one-off, which they would recover from. He was right.

The next fixture after the debacle against Middlesex was a trip to Liverpool. The anticipated face-off between Waqar and his regular new-ball partner Wasim Akram — Lancashire’s long-serving overseas player — did not materialise: Wasim failed a fitness test on the morning of the match.

The home team’s regular captain Mike Watkinson was also injured, and with Michael Atherton and John Crawley both absent on Test duty, Mark Chilton was given his First-Class debut and Neil Fairbrother entrusted with the captaincy.Maynard won the toss and chose to bat. The opening pair continued their productive run with another half-century stand before Ian Austin had Morris caught behind. James and Dale had put together a century partnership and taken the total to 173 for 1 when rain ended play for the day; it prevented any play at all on the next two days, leaving James stuck on 99* for three nights.

The ground was finally dry enough for play on the fourth afternoon, and the captains agreed to set up a finish. It is worth mentioning here the points system used in the County Championship at the time: 16 were awarded for a win but only 3 for a draw, along with any bonus points for runs scored and wickets taken in the first 130 overs of each first innings. The system was no doubt designed to provide an incentive for teams to play for a win rather than settling for a draw, but it also encouraged contrived finishes: if the loss of playing time made it impossible for a result to be reached by normal means, abnormal ones would be used instead. The captains would agree on a fair target for the team batting last, then do whatever was required to set that target, whether it involved early declarations, forfeitures or part-time bowlers giving away easy runs. Batsmen piled up fifties and centuries in absurdly fast times, which were promptly relegated to footnotes in record lists to avoid making a mockery of them. There was no need for bookmakers with leather jackets to get involved; the points system provided all the incentive that was required for this peculiar brand of fixing — and yet for several years no one thought to do anything to end the practice. In 1999 the points system was finally adjusted: the reward for a win was reduced to 12 points while that for a draw was increased to 4 — reducing the incentive to force a result at all costs. The number of contrived finishes diminished, although they did not die out completely: Mark Pettini was gifted a 27-ball century, entirely in boundaries, in 2006.

This time the target agreed was 273 in 60 overs: the first step was to hand the ball to part-timers Graham Lloyd and Nathan Wood, and allow James and Dale to smash them around for a few overs. James had no problems completing his century, and carried on to 152; Dale finished with 78.

Each team then forfeited one innings, leaving Lancashire to start their ‘second’ innings in pursuit of the agreed target. On a technical note, the Laws as they stood at the time only permitted a team to forfeit its second innings: this was pointed out at the Centurion Test in 2000 (long before it was discovered that Hansie Cronje had an ulterior motive for ensuring the match did not end in a draw), and the umpires ruled that England’s first innings should be recorded as 0 for no wicket declared, even though the teams never stepped onto the field for it. On this occasion, though, Lancashire’s first innings was recorded as forfeited, despite that not technically being permitted. The second innings started in front of only a scattering of spectators, since most had been deterred by the apparently remote prospect of play.

Fresh from serving up buffet bowling (thus known because it allows the batsmen to ‘help themselves’), Wood opened the innings. After four byes had opened the scoring, Waqar trapped him LBW in the first over. Glen Chapple, primarily a bowler, was promoted to number 3. In a previous match between the same teams, Chapple had been the beneficiary of the arranged finish, reaching fifty in 10 minutes and a century in 21, but it was a different story when the contrived passage of play was over and the bowlers were giving nothing away: Waqar bowled him first ball. Fairbrother came in to face the hat trick ball and was hit on the pad, but the appeal was turned down; still, at 4 for 2 the target was looking distant.

Fairbrother and Stephen Titchard took the total into double figures before Waqar had another LBW appeal upheld against Titchard and Watkin entered the fray with the wicket of Fairbrother: 17 for 4.

The target became purely theoretical as the wickets continued to tumble. Graham Lloyd was caught behind (27 for 5). Then, off the last ball of Waqar’s sixth over, the debutant Chilton followed the same way: 38 for 6, and the Pakistani had five of them.

Austin went down fighting, taking 12 runs off Watkin’s next over, but Waqar bowled Warren Hegg with the first ball of his seventh over and Gary Yates with the second. Having missed out on a hat trick in the first over of the innings, he completed one in the 13th — the first bowler to do so for Glamorgan in the County Championship since Don Shepherd in 1964, and their first in any First-Class match since Majid Khan performed the feat against Oxford in 1969.

Peter Martin took a single, and the over ended with the home team on 51 for 8; Watkin finished the job with the wickets of Martin and Gary Keedy, to complete the rout in only 14 overs. Waqar finished with 7 for 25, his best bowling figures in a First-Class innings (beating a previous best of 7 for 64 for United Bank Limited in a domestic match in Pakistan in 1991), and just for good measure he also took the final catch. Watkin’s contribution was 3 for 21.

Austin finished unbeaten on 17, exactly a third of the innings total; no-one else reached double figures. Waqar was modest about his achievement: he admitted that he had neither been aware that he was on a hat trick nor realised that the haul was his career best, and was quick to credit Watkin for his part in the performance.

The home team’s failure to reach even a fifth of their target left Glamorgan victors by 221 runs; after being bowled out for 31 in their previous match, they could hardly have bounced back in more emphatic fashion; their opponents were left with no points at all from the match.

James’s 152 comprised 47.06% of the match aggregate of 323, which Charles Davis points out is technically the record for the highest percentage of the aggregate to be scored by one batsman; however, the two innings forfeitures make the record a somewhat artificial one. The record for a match not involving forfeitures or agreed declarations is held by Hanif Mohammad, whose 499 came in a match aggregate of 1,065 (46.85%).

Brief scores:

Glamorgan 272 for 1 decl. (Steve James 152*, Adrian Dale 78*) and forfeited second innings beat Lancashire forfeited first innings and 51 (Waqar Younis 7 for 25, Steve Watkin 3 for 21) by 221 runs.

Although Glamorgan’s main home ground has always been in Cardiff, the county regularly plays one or two matches per year at each of its out-grounds, and Sussex were the first of two opponents to be hosted at St Helen’s, Swansea.

Heavy rain before the match made conditions difficult for batting, enabling Mark Robinson and James Kirtley to peg the home team back to 52 for 4. James and Croft attempted to rebuild, but the opener fell for 48 and a curtailed first day ended with them 114 for 5. Croft fell early the next day, but Adrian Shaw marshalled the tail with 34*, raising the total to 172; Kirtley finished with 6 for 60, his best figures in a First-Class innings.

By the time Sussex batted, the pitch was still wet, and the overcast conditions were ideal for swing; it was their bad luck that the opposition had one of the best swing bowlers in the world. Waqar soon picked off Keith Greenfield and Neil Taylor for ducks: 5 for 2.

Maynard took Watkin off after only 3 overs and gave the ball to Croft instead; the change soon reaped rewards, as the off-spinner trapped both Toby Peirce and Bill Athey LBW. After that it was all Waqar: Mark Newell was bowled (19 for 5). Then, after Keith Newell and Peter Moores had stitched together a partnership of 12, Moores was caught; Vasbert Drakes and Aamer Khan both followed for the third and fourth ducks of the innings (35 for 8).

Newell reached 11 before being bowled by Waqar, and the last pair had only raised the total as far as 54 when he finished the job with the wicket of Kirtley. Waqar’s final figures were 8 for 17: he had bettered his previous best innings analysis twice in a week. 14 wickets in his first 5 matches might have been somewhat below what the county had hoped for in signing one of the world’s best fast bowlers; 15 in 2 innings was more than they could have dreamed of. The fact that Robinson, with 15*, finished as the top scorer in the innings spoke volumes about how poorly the rest of the team had fared: he was a notoriously hopeless batsman, who seven years earlier had set a world record for most consecutive scoreless innings, with 12 (7 of them not out); he finished the season with 3 runs from 16 innings. 1997 was the only time he reached the milestone of 100 runs in a season. Sussex had been utterly, comprehensively Waqared.

Glamorgan started their second innings with a lead of 118; Morris and Dale fell early, but James and Maynard defied all that had gone before, with a partnership of 119 for the third wicket. After Maynard was run out, though, normal service was resumed: Robinson and Aamer ran through the middle and lower order as 7 wickets fell for 34 with three batsmen making ducks. Maynard declared with 9 wickets down in order to get a few overs at Sussex before the close — depriving James, who finished unbeaten on 82, of the chance to carry his bat; he and Maynard (61) made the only double-figure scores of the innings.

The visitors required 302 to win when Peirce and Greenfield walked out to open the second innings; they survived the short spell until stumps, reaching 10 for no loss. On the third morning they took their partnership to 18 before Watkin broke through with the wicket of Greenfield, then trapped Taylor LBW first ball to complete his pair.

Peirce and Athey added 27 for the third wicket, before the secondary benefit of having a star overseas player became evident: as well as gaining directly from the player’s own runs and wickets, the home-grown players could learn from the advice he could pass on. Watkin, who had been in county cricket for more than a decade and played 3 Tests, could still refine his bowling with a few tips from Waqar.

However, but the main beneficiary was Darren Thomas: at the age of 22, he was still developing, and the guidance of an experienced international player was invaluable to him. When not bowling, Waqar was usually positioned at mid-off, from where he could analyse the batsmen and offer advice to his partners on how to exploit their weaknesses.

Both Watkin and Thomas also found that batsmen tied down by Waqar tried to break the shackles by taking risks against them instead, which often gave them a greater chance of wickets. Now it was Thomas who rose to the occasion: first Athey was trapped in front to break the partnership, then Croft dismissed Peirce with the total still on 45. Thomas accounted for Keith Newell, Croft bowled his brother Mark, and 45 for 2 had become 51 for 6.

Moores and Drakes took the total to 60, then the keeper was LBW to Croft, and the West Indian all-rounder became Thomas’s third victim of the innings. Robinson — who failed to repeat his first-innings effort, making his more customary duck this time — and Aamer quickly became the fourth and fifth.

Thomas finished with 5 for 24, the third bowler in the match to record his career-best figures; Croft took 3 for 9 and Watkin the other 2. Even with Waqar finishing wicketless, the rest of the attack had completed a demolition: Sussex lost their last 8 wickets for 22, crashing to 67 and defeat by 234 runs.

The pitch was a poor one, but it was the same for both teams, and with 48 and 82*, James had shown that it was possible to score runs on it; for the second match in succession he had outscored the opposition by himself. Moores, the Sussex captain, was forced to admit “we were thoroughly outplayed”.

Since being bowled out for 31 themselves, Glamorgan had wrapped up three opposition innings for a combined total of just 172 runs. A ball had started rolling, and it would not stop.

Brief scores:

Glamorgan 172 (Steve James 48; James Kirtley 6 for 60, Mark Robinson 3 for 54) and 183 for 9 decl. (Steve James 82*, Matthew Maynard 61; Mark Robinson 4 for 42) beat Sussex 54 (Waqar Younis 8 for 17) and 67 (Darren Thomas 5 for 24, Robert Croft 3 for 9) by 234 runs.