Sam Northeast Admits Glamorgan Left Numb But Proud After Epic Record Tie

Sam Northeast Glamorgan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Sam Northeast Admits Glamorgan Left Numb But Proud After Epic Record Tie

All wales sports

By David Williams

Glamorgan captain Sam Northeast admitted he and his team were “emotionally exhausted” after their epic brush with history in their incredible match against Gloucestershire.

The Welsh county narrowly missed out on re-writing all the record books on the final day of a thrilling Vitality County Championship Second Division match against Gloucestershire which ended in a remarkable tie at Cheltenham.

Charged with the task of pursuing what would have been a world-record run-chase of 593, the Welsh county dramatically levelled the scores, leaving last man Jamie McIlroy requiring just a single off the final ball of the match to achieve a historic win.

But he edged Ajeet Singh Dale’s last delivery and was brilliantly caught by wicketkeeper James Bracey, who claimed his tenth victim of a memorable contest, to spark scenes of mayhem among delighted home supporters at the famous old College Ground.

“The boys are pretty down after getting so close, but what an extraordinary game of cricket, it’s special to be a part of it and a good advert for the county championship,” said Northeast.

“There were so many unbelievable performances throughout the week, it’s come down to the last over and a great battle though it’s a shame we couldn’t come away with the win. Everyone’s just emotionally exhausted.”

Skipper Northeast top-scored with a brilliant 187 and overseas star Marnus Labuschagne made 119 to put Glamorgan in with a chance of eclipsing the highest run chase of all time, the 536 successfully pursued by West Zone in a Duleep Trophy match against South Zone in India in February 2010.

But Gloucestershire’s bowlers held their nerve under extreme pressure and Matt Taylor took 3 for 120, including the crucial wicket of Northeast, leaving the visitors to score 32 off 10 overs.

Mason Crane played supremely well to raise 43 not out, but Singh Dale demonstrated nerves of steel to frustrate the visitors at the death.

The first tied game in English county cricket in six years earned the two sides 11 points apiece, with Glamorgan registering the highest fourth innings score in any first class game played in England and the third highest of all time anywhere in the world.

Northeast added: “It’s up there (among important innings for me), but Mason played phenomenal at the end, so calm under pressure to get us close, and Marnus showed his class as well. Timm bowled brilliantly in the first innings.

“We’d gone so far trying to chase it down that we had to go for it nine wickets down, and it was nearly an incredible win.”

Gloucestershire’s James Bracey said: “I’m extremely disappointed to be honest, we should probably have won the game, though as it settles in we’ll probably see it as eight points gained going into the last ball rather than eight lost.

“We’ll look at it as a positive and there’s still a long way to go in the campaign so we’re gunning for the top two spots.

“(After the first innings) you wouldn’t have seen it going to the last ball with a chase close to 600, so it’s pretty remarkable on all counts.

“Sam and Marnus played brilliant innings, three of our guys got hundreds so there’s a lot to be said for the quality of the batting but our bowlers worked tirelessly. You’d probably say eight points each is very fair.”

When they resumed their second innings with seven wickets standing, Glamorgan’s hopes of chasing down a world record target rested, in large part, upon the broad shoulders of Labuschagne and Northeast.

Certainly, the home side had to exercise patience, the first hour passing without a sniff of a chance as the fourth wicket pair knuckled down to the task of batting time.

They also took advantage of a quick-scoring ground to keep the scoreboard ticking over, Northeast going to his 50 from 70 balls and then bringing up the 100 partnership in 24 overs.

Having reined himself in and played responsibly, Labuschagne fairly rushed to three figures, the Australian plundering three boundaries in a rare wayward over from Marchant de Lange.

The last of these was a pull shot to the mid-wicket boundary, which brought up his hundred via 148 balls.

As Labuschagne became more adventurous, so Gloucestershire’s chances of removing him increased and his dismissal, when it came 35 minutes before lunch, was greeted by raucous cheers from Festival-goers.

Attempting to work a Beau Webster delivery from off to leg, Labuschagne succeeded only in finding Cameron Bancroft, strategically placed at leg gully.

Undone by smart cricket, Glamorgan’s best batsman trudged disconsolately back to the pavilion, having made 119 from 165-balls, struck 17 fours and helped stage an alliance of 153 with Northeast.

Gloucestershire took the new ball soon afterwards, but new batsman Chris Cooke and Northeast stood firm, reaching lunch on 341-4, at the culmination of a session that yielded 119 runs.

Cooke was unable to hold on for much longer, though, Taylor locating his outside edge and James Bracey taking a brilliant diving catch behind the stumps to reduce the visitors to 348 for 5.

Undeterred, the relentless Northeast went to his hundred from 162 balls, raising his 15th four with a leg glance off Ajeet to draw enthusiastic applause from his teammates.

He found a reliable partner in the form of Dan Douthwaite, who not only defended stoutly, but also put away the bad ball with sufficient regularity to keep the required rate below four an over.

Gloucestershire spirits were beginning to sag when skipper Graeme van Buuren introduced Ollie Price from the College Lawn end and the off spinner made a much-needed breakthrough, persuading Douthwaite, who had scored 39 in a sixth wicket stand of 105, to drive to cover with the score on 453.

Required to score a further 140 with 38.4 overs available in the final session, Glamorgan were entitled to feel they were in with a chance of pulling off a remarkable coup while Northeast remained in the middle.

He raised his 150 from 225 balls and, when the total passed 507, Glamorgan had established the highest fourth innings score in first class cricket in this country, beating a 128-year-old record set by Cambridge University in a match against MCC at Lord’s in June 1896.

Tim van der Gugten offered his captain valuable support, adding 31 in a partnership of 56 for the seventh wicket before edging Singh Dale behind with a further 84 runs still needed from 22.4 overs.

Gloucestershire then claimed the wicket they really wanted, Taylor finding the outside edge and Bracey taking a tumbling catch, his ninth of the match, to end Northeast’s marathon sojourn.

Northeast had accrued 22 fours in an innings spanning 277 balls and the ninth wicket pair of Crane and Gorvin were still 49 runs short of their target when they came together.

Gorvin made seven, playing and missing frequently, before he left a straight ball and was bowled by De Lange with 32 runs still needed.

Crane now assumed responsibility for masterminding the chase, dominating the strike as Gloucestershire pushed their fielders back onto the boundary during the final few overs.

Last man McIlroy nicked Webster for four through fine leg in the penultimate over to leave Crane needing to score two runs more in the final over, bowled by Singh Dale.

Tied down, he scampered a single off the penultimate ball to set up a dramatic finale. McIlroy perished, leaving Crane 43 not out from 85 balls.

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