Glamorgan fall agonisingly short as thrilling record run chase ends in tie

Ajeet Singh Dale has last man Jamie McIlroy caught behind by the diving James Bracey
Ajeet Singh Dale has last man Jamie McIlroy caught behind by the diving James Bracey

One of the most extraordinary matches in the history of the County Championship saw Gloucestershire take the final wicket off the last ball of the game to deny Glamorgan the highest chase in first-class history.

Ajeet Singh Dale had last man Jamie McIlroy caught behind by the diving James Bracey – who set off on a celebratory lap of the Cheltenham outfield – to tie the match and deny Glamorgan a record chase of 593.

Amazingly, Bracey had taken off his right glove, presumably to prepare for a shy at the stumps, when he took the catch above his head.

For much of an extraordinary chase, Glamorgan looked set to win, but they were denied by one run. Their captain Sam Northeast’s record-breaking feats have become legendary since joining the county, and his 187 seemed set to guide his team to a record victory, but he fell with 50 to win.

Mason Crane’s 43 not out, from No 9, looked set to do the job for Glamorgan but, with tension becoming almost unbearable, he gave McIlroy the strike with one ball remaining and one to win and the wicket fell. Since moving to Glamorgan, Northeast has made a habit of breaking records.

In 2022, he made 410 not out, the county’s biggest individual score, and the third-highest in Championship history. Earlier this year, he made 335 not out, the highest-ever score at Lord’s.

This team achievement, though, would have been a match for both, but it was not to be. Remarkably, the early exchanges of the match were very low-scoring. Gloucestershire, who were put in, made 179, to which Glamorgan responded with 197. The hosts were then 17 for two, before recovering to post 610 for five, setting a target of 593.

It looked a conservative declaration, but it proved wise, as Glamorgan set about an extraordinary chase. Marnus Labuschagne made a century, then Northeast kept going. He could not quite stay long enough, though.

Bracey, who has scored a double century in the third innings, said afterwards: “To be honest, we feel extremely disappointed. We should have won the game, but going into that last ball it is probably eight points gained rather than eight lost.

“When we were 88 for eight on the first day, you would not have foreseen the match going to the final ball and you would not have envisaged a near-600 run chase. It’s been pretty remarkable on all fronts. That bit of life in the pitch went after the first day and both sides then batted really well. Marnus and Sam batted superbly for them and three of our guys made hundreds.

“We worked hard in the field and, when you create and take 10 chances, you expect to win the game. There were a few moments when things might have changed but, in the end, you have to say a tie is fair. We couldn’t have perceived 593 being chased, so fair play to Glamorgan for an amazing effort. On a personal note, it was great to score 200 and take 10 catches, and I’m pleased that I have rediscovered some of my best form.”

Glamorgan head coach Grant Bradburn said: “I’m super proud of the players in terms of that willingness to hunt the victory and not fear failure. It was not to be today, but I could not be more proud of the efforts made. There were some brilliant partnerships built around an incredible knock by Sam Northeast, and then a really brave innings from Mason at the end.

“We know that Sam is an experienced campaigner with real class, and he tends to go big once he is in and has found his operating level. He has an immense mental ability to stay within that. He is bitterly disappointed that he couldn’t stay out there and see us through to a victory. For him to bat almost all day and take us to within sight of what would have been a remarkable victory was fantastic.

“It’s the first time I’ve been involved in a red-ball tie and it feels a bit hollow to score so many and not get over the line. But full credit to Gloucestershire, because they threw themselves around and fielded incredibly well.”