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Former Glamorgan bowler Don Shepherd has died, at the age of 90.
Shepherd remains the leading wicket-taker in Glamorgan’s history, having claimed 2,174 victims in a 22-year career with the Welsh county.
In fact his career total of 2,218 first-class wickets is the highest achieved by an England-qualified player never to play Test cricket.
After retiring from playing he worked for BBC Wales Sport for more than 30 years, even commentating this season.
Shepherd was one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year in 1970.
He made his Glamorgan debut in 1950, and by the time he retired in 1972 Shepherd was among the most respected bowlers in the first-class game.
He claimed 100 wickets or more in a season on 12 occasions, and over the course of his career could boast an average of 21.32.
Shepherd started his career as a medium pace bowler, but switched to spin in the mid-1950s to immediate effect – taking a match total of 10-85 against Warwickshire in the last game of the 1955 season.
His off-cutters were delivered at quicker pace than usual, and he used to ask his wicketkeepers to stand back from the stumps to compensate for the speed.
That he did not play for England was a measure of the quality of his contemporaries – particularly Fred Titmus, Derek Underwood and Ray Illingworth.
Shortly before his death as he celebrated turning 90, Shepherd shared the memories of his career with BBC Wales Sport.
“It never worried me [not playing for England]. I played for MCC against the West Indians at Lord’s in 1957, and I played for a Commonwealth team under Australian captain Richie Benaud,” Shepherd said.
“If I’d been an Australian, he told me I would have played quite a lot of times.
“But there were so many terrific off-spinners around towards the end – Fred Titmus, David Allen, John Mortimore, Ray Illingworth – and they could bat, while I was a bit of a slogger.
“I was happy enough doing what I did and what happened to me through my life.”
Shepherd starred for Glamorgan as they beat Australia in 1964 – claiming nine wickets in the match.
And he captained the Welsh county when they again beat the Aussie tourists in 1968.
But the real highlight of his county career when he was vice-captain of the Glamorgan team that won the County Championship in 1969.
Shepherd toured Ceylon [now Sri Lanka] and the Far East with the MCC in the winter of 1969-70.
And after his retirement in 1973 Shepherd’s status as a hero in his native Wales was underlined by his work as a commentator on BBC Radio Wales, where his mellow tone confirmed the general perception that Shepherd was one of sport’s true gentlemen.
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