Ross Salmon recalls his historic feat against Bedfordshire

Former Staffordshire batsman Ross Salmon.

Staffordshire start their NCCA Championship campaign against Bedfordshire this weekend.

And the meeting between the two sides brings back memories of an historic achievement back in the 1990s…

Ross Salmon only played nine Championship matches for Staffordshire, so it’s not too difficult to pick out his favourite game.

And the shortlist gets even shorter when you throw in the fact that Salmon wrote his name into the county’s record books in one of his appearances.

It’s now 32 years since Salmon, then playing for Ashcombe Park, became just the second Staffordshire batsman to score hundreds in both innings of a Championship encounter.

Current chairman Phil Oliver had been the first to achieve the feat, and Salmon joined him in the history books in a two-day game against Bedfordshire at Stone in 1992.

Salmon scored an unbeaten 100 on day one and followed it up with 102 not out the next day in just his third game for Staffs.

Looking back, it seems remarkable that Salmon, regarded of one of the finest league batsmen at the time, featured so sparingly for Staffordshire.

But he had the unenviable task of dislodging Steve Dean and Dave Cartledge as the county’s opening pair in a golden period for Staffordshire.

Cartledge was unavailable for this clash against Bedfordshire – and Salmon seized his chance at the top of the order.

‘Fine wicket’

“Stone was one of my favourite grounds because it was always a good wicket,” recalls Salmon.

“It kept nice and low which suited me because I was a front-foot player and could drive well.

“I didn’t play much because of Deany and Carlo who were the country’s best opening batsmen at the time.

“I’m guessing Carlo was unavailable because of either injury or work.

“Me and Deany opened up and he went off like a train like he usually did, looking a million dollars.

“Then there was me at the other end looking pretty ordinary!”

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There was nothing ordinary about Salmon’s innings on those two days at Lichfield Road, though.

He struck 12 fours in the first innings before skipper Nick Archer declared on 226-2.

Beds replied with 128-8 declared, before Staffs rattled up 228-0 second time around with Dean joining Salmon in the ton club.

Bedfordshire were then skittled for 146 in their chase as Staffs wrapped up a 180-run success.

‘Individual battle’

“I remember me being pretty slow in the first innings,” added Salmon.

“And a couple of things really stand out for me. Beds had Chris Bullen bowling for them, who I’d played against in under-19 cricket.

“I didn’t want to get out to him, so there was a bit of motivation from that point of view.

“And the other thing was that after batting for all that time, I was put under the lid at short leg.

“I was a better out-fielder and must have dropped about five catches there. I think Nick (Archer) was punishing me!”.

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Since Salmon achieved his slice of history, Kadeer Ali (twice), Keith Bell and Michael Hill have all repeated the feat.

And Salmon, now aged 59, says it’s only as time ticks on that he appreciates the magnitude of what happened.

“It never dawned on me at the time about the prospect of achieving a piece of history,” he admitted.

“It’s only as you get older you think about it. At the time I was in the zone and someone then mentions it later on and you realise how good it was.

“History never crossed my mind. You have the thought of getting two hundreds, but to actually manage it is special.”

‘Lord’s call’

Salmon also played three 50-over matches for Staffs, featuring in the 1992 Holt Cup loss to Devon at Lord’s.

That was the only blot on Staffs’ copybook between 1991 and 1993 as they won three successive Championship and the limited-overs competition twice.

Salmon could justifiably feel frustrated that he didn’t play more for the county – but that’s not his style.

“In two-day cricket you had to move games forward to try to get a result,” said Salmon.

“I think that’s why we were so successful. Deany and Carlo just got on with it and set up games.

“I was a bit slower and that’s probably why I didn’t play as much.

“I’ve got no regrets at all. Playing for Staffordshire was a bit of a bonus because at the time it’s all about availability with work.

“At the time I was the eternal 12th man, although I did play at Lord’s in the Holt Cup final. We had a helluva side at the time.

“I would have liked to have been involved more, but it was a privilege to play for Staffordshire on the occasions I did.”

Main image: Ross Salmon scored centuries in each innings for Staffordshire against Bedfordshire in 1992.