Allan Watkins dies aged 89
The former Glamorgan allrounder, Allan Watkins, died in hospital in Kidderminster on Wednesday afternoon at the age of 89, following a short illness. In 15 Tests for England between 1948 and 1952, he became the first Glamorgan player to score a Test hundred and the first to appear in an Ashes Test.
His debut, at The Oval in 1948, was torrid, as he made 0 and 7 in two innings, and was unable to bowl more than four overs after being hit on the shoulder by Ray Lindwall. However, it was the match in which Don Bradman was bowled for a duck in his final Test innings, and Watkins was the last player to field a ball from him. He collected Bradman's first-ball defensive push and returned to the bowler Eric Hollies, who subsequently delivered the googly that stranded Bradman's career average on 99.94.
Watkins' personal zenith came the following winter in Johannesburg, where he scored 111 in a three-and-a-quarter-hour innings against South Africa in February 1949. He struck 15 fours in his stay, and later marked the feat by naming his home "Ellis Park" in honour of the venue. He added a second hundred against India in Delhi three years later, against whom he also returned his best Test bowling figures of 3 for 20.
Born in Usk in Monmouthshire, Watkins' first-class career began in 1939, five years after his home county had merged with Glamorgan. The onset of the second world war delayed his development, but he scored his maiden century against Surrey at Cardiff Arms Park in 1946, having been released from training that day by Plymouth Argyle, for whom he performed as a winger.
His allround sporting ability extended to his bowling repertoire, and he was a key figure of the Glamorgan team that, in 1948, won the County Championship for the very first time. In 407 appearances for Glamorgan, he scored 17,419 runs and took 774 wickets, passing 1000 runs in every season bar one from 1947 to 1960, and claiming 50 or more wickets eight times between 1949 and 1956.
The summer of 1954 was his best in Glamorgan colours. At Swansea, he made a career-best 170 not out against Leicestershire, and followed that with his best bowling of 7 for 28 against Derbyshire at Chesterfield, which included a remarkable spell of four wickets in five balls. He finished the season with more than 1,000 first-class runs and 100 wickets, and emulated the feat in 1955.
Watkins retired from first-class cricket in 1962, and embarked on a four-decade coaching career at Oundle School.