Worcestershire will take on Surrey in a County Championship match at Blackfinch New Road – starting tomorrow – for the first time since the game that became known as ‘Shantry’s Match.’
It is a contest that has gone down in Worcestershire folklore as Jack Shantry almost single-handedly dragged Worcestershire back from a lost looking cause to gain the win that sealed promotion to Division One in September 2014.
He became the first player to score a century and take 10 wickets batting at number nine or lower in first class cricket.
Shantry sadly had to announce his retirement earlier this summer because of injury and is now taking the first steps to becoming an umpire but here he looks back on that memorable occasion.
He said: “It was an incredible match with so much drama.
“I remember in the first innings being very frustrated. We had bowled well but hadn’t taken many wickets and they were something like 330-4 and looked like building a big lead.
“Then we took a few quick wickets and restricted their lead to something manageable.
“I got on a roll, which I managed once or twice in my career and if the ball was swinging I loved bowling at New Road.
“When I went in before tea on the third day, we had a lead of 40 with three second innings wickets left.
“I asked Nigel Cowley, who was umpiring, if he was playing golf the following day, as we were all assuming day four wouldn’t be required.
“I remember being given a lot of short stuff in the first innings from Dernbach, Meaker and Dunn, who was bowling quickly, as well as the odd verbal. I got out in the first innings fending one off my nose to short leg.
“Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) made a comment to me about improving my batting against the short ball in the winter which fired me up.
“I made sure in the second innings that I wasn’t going to get out the same way. I came out and they had a short leg and leg slip and the first ball I faced from Dunn I played terribly and almost fell on the floor.
“I thought ‘this is not the way to play.’ Meaker came on and with the same field, I knew he had to bowl short.
“I tried to find a way of scoring runs quickly – and that way was clearing my front leg, almost swatting the ball like a tennis player – and luckily a few came off the middle of the bat
“Leachy was brilliant at the other end. He got two fifties in the game. He had a huge impact. We were also team-mates from Shrewsbury so we knew each others games well.”
Shantry added: “Surrey were well on top until that partnership. There was also a huge shift in the atmosphere in the ground.
“There was a shift to ‘we can do this’ amongst the fans and you could sense the change amongst the Surrey players as well.
“When I got to a hundred it was fantastic. I had only got one fifty before that. It was amazing, a memory that will live forever.
“They wanted about 220 and were still going well in their second innings.
“The ball was out of shape and wasn’t swinging and they got to 100-1 quite easily and then the ball was changed and the new one started doing a bit more. Then Charlie Morris got Vikram (Solanki) out just before lunch
“After lunch myself and Mo (Mooen Ali) bowled together and we took some quick wickets and they felt the pressure and we got on another roll.
“When they were nine wickets down Mo dropped Ansari and you wondered if the match had gone, but Alexei Kervezee got the run out to clinch victory.
“It was an amazing feeling, an incredible turnaround, and I was definitely aware it was one of those games that happen only once in a life-time.
“Bumpy made the comparison with Ian Botham at Headingley which was very kind but definitely hyperbole! It is one of those things that you don’t expect to happen but it will live with me forever.
“When I announced I was retiring, there were a lot of nice comments about that match and I always look back on it fondly.”