Profile of Maurice Turnbull
by Dr.A.K.Hignell - Hon Statistician and Historian to Glamorgan CCC

Player:MJL Turnbull

Maurice Turnbull was one of Glamorgan`s finest ever batsman and one of the club`s most inspirational captains. His single-minded efforts during the 1930`s transformed a team of habitual losers with a large deficit into a more successful side, and a profit-making club. Turnbull led by example, and set a host of club records during his career from 1924 until 1939, including being Glamorgan`s first ever Test cricketer. There is no knowing what else he might have achieved had he not been killed in action in August 1944 whilst on active service in France.


Turnbull made his county debut in 1924 whilst still at Downside School, and in 1926 he went up to Cambridge University where he won three cricket Blues and led the University XI in 1929. He was also an outstanding rugby player, playing as a half-back for both the University and Cardiff, and went on to win two Welsh caps in 1932. He also won a hockey Blue and was a Welsh hockey international in 1929.


However, his finest sport was cricket, and throughout his early days with Glamorgan and Cambridge, it had been clear that Turnbull was destined for higher honours. In 1929, he duly won selection for the M.C.C. tour of Australia and New Zealand, and in January 1930 made his Test debut at Christchurch. On his return to Britain, Turnbull took over the captaincy of Glamorgan, and over the next decade he transformed the downtrodden county into a successful playing unit. He was a gifted leader, always getting the best out of the motley assortment of amateurs and hard-nosed professionals. Turnbull also put great faith in the young Welsh players, and helped to create a clear Welsh identity in Glamorgan C.C.C., thereby raising public interest in South Wales.


In 1932 Turnbull took over the duties as Glamorgan`s Secretary, and together with his good friend Johnnie Clay, they used their business and social contacts to raise cash for the poverty-stricken club. At one stage it even looked as if the club might fold, but Turnbull and Clay launched a special fund raising appeal, and their actions helped the club avoided bankruptcy.


His outstanding record as a leader also resulted as his name being touted in some quarters as a future England captain. In 1933 an unbeaten 200 against Northamptonshire led to his recall to the England side for the Tests at Lord`s and The Oval, and in 1934 he led the Rest in the Test Trial. However, he rather fell out with the M.C.C. authorities over what they viewed as `illegal` declarations in rain-affected matches, declaring their innings early rather than abiding by some arcane regulations which forbade them from batting for a short period of time. All that Turnbull and his opposite numbers were trying to do was to declare early and provide some entertaining cricket in matches that otherwise would reach a tame draw. Many believed that because these games ended in a positive outcome, it vindicated Turnbull`s actions to produce soem emaningful crickdet, but the game`s hierarchy took a different view, and he was severely reprimanded by the authorities for flouting the game`s Laws.


Turnbull`s Test career was therefore restricted to juest nine matches, but at least Glamorgan benefited by having his undivided attention. After his brush with the M.C.C. authorities, it was clear that Turnbull preferred his county duties, and in 1933/34 he turned down an invitation to tour India. By 1938 Turnbull was back in favour at Lord`s and was appointed an England selector. There is no knowing what other posts he might have held had he not given his life for his country whilst serving with the Welsh Guards during the Normandy Invasion.


(Article: Copyright © 2000 Dr.A.K.Hignell)


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