Somerset were left to rue their decision not to pick Charlie Marshall two years before he burst onto the Cup Match scene as a colt in spectacular fashion at Wellington Oval.
Requiring six runs off the final delivery of the match to reach a century, the then 19-year-old skipped down the crease and dispatched bowler Robert Hinds over the mid-wicket boundary to become the first colt to achieve the feat on their Cup match debut.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Marshall’s historic innings that brought the 1980 Cup Match classic at Wellington Oval to a dramatic finish.
“Anything down centre and leg was my strength my whole cricket career,” Marshall said.
“It was always through mid-wicket, so I batted way outside of off stump to encourage him [Hinds] to bowl down centre and leg because that’s where my strength was.”
Hinds took the bait and Marshall seized upon the opportunity to reach the milestone.
“Before Robert Hinds released the ball I was basically halfway down the crease,” Marshall added. “He put it right there in the slot. It was the right delivery and my timing was the key.”
Marshall was on strike and seven runs shy of a century at the start of the final over of the drawn match.
He failed to score off of Hinds’s first three deliveries and his chances appeared all but over after taking a single off the fourth delivery of the over.
“At the time I wasn’t thinking because I would have never taken the single,” Marshall said.
“After I realised I took the single I said, ‘Marshall, how are you going to get back down the other end?’”
Fortunately, Marshall regained the strike after he and fellow colt Ken Pitcher scampered through for a single off the penultimate ball of the day.
“I told Ken, ‘I’ve got to get down the other end’,” Marshall said. “I told him, ‘Don’t try and hit the ball hard and if it goes to the wicketkeeper I’m coming. If it’s a dot ball, I’ve still got to run’.”
Marshall established two records that memorable day as he also surpassed the previous highest innings by a colt of 75 achieved by Somerset’s Bergon Spencer nine years earlier.
“After I broke the record that’s when I realised I had enough time to go on and make the hundred,” Marshall added. “Breaking the record was a great achievement for myself.”
Marshall’s historic exploits with the bat occurred after he had played in several Cup Match trials with Somerset after being invited by his late uncle Albert “Bert” Zuill Philpott, who served on the club’s selection committee, to try out for the then challengers.
“To be honest, I was a Somerset fan when I was younger and wanted to one day be captain of Somerset,” Marshall said.
“I was very involved with Somerset and played a lot of trial matches for them. My uncle, Bert Philpott, was a selector and he encouraged me to come up there and I was up there on trial in 1978 and again in 1979.
“They didn’t pick me in ‘78 and ‘79 I played a trial match before I left with Bermuda Under-19s for the youth tournament in Canada. Randy Horton [the former Somerset captain] told me to be patient and go away with the national youth squad, which I did.”
Bermuda won the 1979 International Youth Tournament in Canada under Marshall’s captaincy while Somerset won Cup Match for the first time in 20 years on their home turf the same year. Somerset’s famous victory influenced Marshall’s ultimate decision to play for St George’s in instead.
“It was an opportunity for me to make Cup Match because in ‘79 Somerset beat St George’s for the first time in 20 years and I knew by rights there was not going to be that many changes in Somerset,” he said.
“I knew my chances were even more limited in Somerset so that’s the reason why I went to St George’s. They made about four changes that year so the opportunity was better for me to play in St George’s and I wanted to play in Cup Match.”
Among those congratulating Marshall on his record century as a colt was his uncle, who passed away four years ago, who had invited him to try out at Somerset two years earlier.
“He was very upset to see me leave Somerset,” Marshall said.
“But even though I played for St George’s he congratulated me for making the century.”
In acknowledgement of the 40th anniversary of Marshall’s historic Cup Match debut, The Royal Gazette sports reporter-photographer Lawrence Trott presented the former player with a 5ft photograph he took of him in 2009.
“I’m very emotional that Lawrence has put something like that together for me,” Marshall said. “I love it; it’s awesome.”
Trott added: “The last few weeks I have been thinking this is the 40th anniversary of Charlie’s century so I figured it would be a nice gesture to present it to him.”
Trott snapped the iconic photo that encapsulates the very moment Marshall achieved his record century as a colt.
“There was a buzz around that Charlie was going for that century and no one had ever done that it before in 78 previous Cup Matches,” he said.
“Even though it was a draw it was an exciting finish and it just happened that after two days of cricket the best picture was the last ball of the game. Without question that’s one of my most memorable photos of Charlie that day.”