Austin Matthews played in Test cricket for England in 1937 just a fortnight after making his Glamorgan debut.
It was a remarkable rise for the 33 year-old seam bowler who had left Northamptonshire the previous summer, after ten years opening the bowling for the East Midland county. At the time, Matthews believed that his county career was over, so he took up a coaching appointment at Stowe School and Cambridge University, and in July 1937 returned to his family`s home in Penarth believing his days of professional were over.
Matthews was a good friend of Maurice Turnbull, the highly influential Glamorgan captain, and after hearing of his friends` return to South Wales, Turnbull approached his chum about helping out Glamorgan. Jack Mercer their long-serving opening bowler was carrying an injury, and with other seamers out of form or injured as well, Turnbull was eager to find a replacement. Matthews agreed to help out and he made his Glamorgan debut against the New Zealand tourists at Swansea at the end of July.
Matthews proceeded to worry the Kiwi batsmen with his brisk away swingers, and then in the following match against Sussex at Hastings, Matthews returned match figures of 14/132 on a perfect batting wicket. Aware of how the experienced bowler had caused problems for the Kiwi batsmen, the England selectors called up Matthews for the Third Test at the Oval.
Matthews performed adequately in his only appearance at international level, dismissing Walter Hadlee in both innings, and he continued to play for Glamorgan until 1947.
Matthews might have played for the Welsh county in the mid 1920`s as the young all-rounder had been offered terms after some impressive performances for the Cardiff club. He was also a talented rugby player and opted instead to go to St. David`s College, Lampeter, before accepting the offer to move to the East Midlands to play for, and captain, Northampton R.F.C. Whilst in Northamptonshire, he decided to give county cricket a go, and from 1927 acted as their opening bowler.
(Article: Copyright © 2007 Dr.A.K.Hignell)
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