Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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DAVIES, DAVIDDAI (1896-1976), cricketer and cricket umpire.

Dai Davies was born at Llanelli on 26 August, 1896, the youngest of 11 children. His mother, Margaret Davies, was a widow in 1901. He was educated at the Pentip Church of England School, Sandy, Llanelli. He married Mary Elizabeth Davies in 1924 and they had one daughter, Margaret.

Dai Davies was, together with Emrys Davies, one of the first two home-bred professional cricketers to play for Glamorgan and feature prominently in the County Championship.

On leaving school, he commenced working at the Llanelli Steelworks, and his industrial experience probably explains his fervent support for the General Strike of 1926. He played cricket for Llanelli and for Carmarthenshire, and his first match for Glamorgan in 1923. The county had lost the first five matches of the season, and Dai was reputedly woken by his mother at 11.30 a.m. after he had worked a double sixteen-hour shift at the local steel works due to the non-arrival of a colleague, and informed that a car had arrived outside the house to take him to the St. Helens ground, Swansea. Having experienced some difficulty in ensuring his access to the ground, as the match had already commenced, he took a wicket before lunch in his first over, another two wickets in the afternoon and contributed significantly to the county's victory, scoring 58 runs in the first innings and 51 in the second innings.

A member of the Glamorgan team from 1923 until 1939, playing 411 matches, he became one of the more successful all-rounders in county cricket in the 1920s and 1930s. A solid and determined batsman, he scored 15,390 runs with an average of 24.27 and a highest score of 216 against Somerset in 1939, and 16 centuries, including three consecutive hundreds in 1928. A hard-hitting batsman, in 1927 he hit a massive six which cleared the rugby stand at Swansea with the ball landing in a coal truck standing on the railway line outside the ground: it was later claimed that the ball had been discovered by a railwayman when the wagon was being unloaded at Craven Arms, Shropshire 75 miles away. Dai Davies is reputed to have benefitted from many dinners on the basis of being able to relate the story of hitting a cricket ball from Swansea to Shropshire! A medium paced and off spin bowler, he took 275 wickets. An excellent fielder who held 195 catches for Glamorgan, he was described by Jack Hobbs as one of the finest cover fielders he had ever seen.

Dai Davies retired in 1939, and served as a coach at Bromsgrove School from 1944 until 1946 when he was appointed as an umpire for the County Championship. He became one of the leading umpires in the competition, renowned for his firm and decisive decisions. He served on the first-class list from 1946 until 1961, and officiated in 23 Test matches between 1947 and 1958. He was the umpire in the match at Bournemouth in 1948 when Glamorgan won the county championship for the first time, and gave the memorable verdict at the fall of Hampshire's final wicket: ‘That's out and we've won the Championship.’

He suffered from arthritis in his later years but collaborated with his son-in-law John Edwards in the publication of his memoirs in 1975.

Dai Davies died at Llanelli on 16 July, 1976.

Sources:

  • Dai Davies and John Edwards, Dai Davies Not out … 78 , 1975;
  • Benny Green, The Wisden Book of Obituaries, Obituaries from Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 1892-1985 , 1986;
  • Andrew Hignell, A Who's Who of Glamorgan County Cricket Club 1888-1991 , 1992.

Author:

D. Huw Owen, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2015