Congratulations to Glamorgan legend Don Shepherd who celebrates his 90th birthday on Saturday, August 12th.
During his first-class career from 1950 until 1972, Don took more wickets than any other bowler who has never played Test cricket, with the off-cutter claiming 2, 174 wickets for Glamorgan at a shade over 20 runs apiece.
Like many slow bowlers, Don began his career as a fast bowler and claimed 115 victims during the 1952 season alone. He then switched styles during 1955 and the following summer claimed 168 wickets, including more than five wickets in an innings on no less than fifteen occasions. He passed the hundred mark in eleven further seasons, and year after year, Don tricked and teased the finest of batsmen on the county circuit.
Don was also fortunate to have the support of some top-class fielders close to the wicket, especially Peter Walker, plus top quality wicket-keepers in Haydn Davies, David Evans and latterly Eifion Jones, all of whom were instructed by `Shep` to stand back rather than, as normal, up to the stumps. This was because Don was a classical spin bowler, delivering the ball at almost medium pace with the priceless ability to undercut the ball and making it move in the air, so that batsmen misjudged the length of the delivery.
Don was a match-winner on a turning wicket, as testified by some remarkable bowling figures, including 6/5 against Nottinghamshire at Newport in 1961, 5/2 against Leicestershire at Ebbw Vale in 1965 and 7/7 against Hampshire at the Arms Park in 1966, whilst in 1964 he also took a hat-trick against Northamptonshire at Swansea.
The St. Helen’s ground was also the scene of two other notable occasions during his career as in 1961 he equalled the world record with a whirlwind half-century against the Australians, reaching 50 in just 15 minutes with only eleven scoring strokes, whilst in 1968 he led the Welsh county in their historic victory over the Australians, with the 79-run victory being a tribute to his subtle tactics and shrewd bowling changes.
In 1969 Don claimed the final wicket of Glamorgan’s Championship-winning contest against Worcestershire at Sophia Gardens and in recognition of his magnificent service to the Welsh county, he was chosen the following Spring as one of Wisden`s Cricketers of the Year.