Monthly Archives: September 2011

Diary of a Glamorgan Fan (Aged 25 353/365) – End of Term

Sixpence None The Richer

Sixth Place None The Richer

Promotion to Division One? A first County Championship title since 1934? No… the ultimate accolade won on the last day of the 2011 season went to Glamorgan, defeating Kent in the Canterbury twilight with a pink ball. There are no trophies, but the honour of finishing sixth in Division Two. You can’t buy that kinda glory…

It concluded a disappointing campaign on a high note, that much is true. Gareth Griffiths has already provided a very astute post mortem for Wales on Sunday – the link can be found here. And naturally, the first thought that springs to mind is whether the winter upheaval was worth the public fall-out.

Glamorgan finish the season and start the pre-season break, effectively, with just one of the senior personnel still in his original role – chief executive Alan Hamer. Captain, coach, president and chairman have all altered in the past year, with the latter arguably being the odd one out and not related to the others.

Middlesex LVCC2 Champions

Congratulations to Middlesex CCC

For two successive seasons, Glamorgan narrowly missed out on promotion to the first division of the LV County Championship. Any ambition of “third time lucky” was unceremoniously neutered more than a month before the last day. It was the ungratifying price to pay for the changes designed to improve the Dragons’ limited overs form.

There was a little encouragement in the CB40, with an increase in the number of games won. But only slightly, with a defeat to the Unicorns and another unhappy showing in the Friends Life T20 making you ask if Glamorgan had only served to throw the baby out with the bathwater as the club’s landscape changed last year?

Where did it go wrong?

Before the season, I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough quality with the bat and that runs would not be easily acquired – due mainly to Mark Cosgrove being ousted as overseas player. However, I was much more confident about the ability of the bowlers to take 20 wickets in a four-day context.

Well, the final table makes me look a bit of a chump there. Glamorgan scored the third highest tally of batting points (44, behind Northants and Middlesex), while only bottom side Leicestershire scored less bowling points. I’m not sure that I’m altogether in the wrong though…

Will Owen

Hover Bowling. Not such a success.

Glamorgan’s bowling attack was beset by injuries throughout the campaign. Not just front-line bowlers like James Harris and Graham Wagg (particularly early in the season), but able deputies such as Jim Allenby. And not forgetting that Adam Shantry and David Harrison both called time on their careers in 2011.

Dean Cosker fell one wicket short of 50 for the season, but times must have been tough if Gareth Rees was seen to open the bowling during the Friends Life T20.

With the bat, three scored more than 1,000 runs: skipper Alviro Petersen, young ‘un William Bragg and captain-elect Mark Wallace. Stewart Walters was the only to average more than 50, but he featured in half the number of innings than each of the three to pass 1,000. Gareth Rees was next nearest to 1,000 with 954 runs.

Statistically, the batting in County Championship games was fairly good, but the totals scored in limited overs games wasn’t quite enough on many occasions. The result would be, aside from a defeat, the wonder of what might had been if 10/20 more had been scored. (See also: Hampshire away, Friends Life T20)

Anyway, we’re seven months away from the start of the 2012 season and it’s time in which Matthew Mott can firmly shape the team in his image – you might call it an improvement on the limited time he had before the 2011 season. And already there have been announcements regarding personnel.

Marcus North comes in on a two-year deal, while a number of players have been retained. Nick James and Stewart Walters are two that can surely count on more game time next season after impressing in the opportunities that came their way – particularly during the latter stages of the 2011 campaign.

Simon Jones has been touted for a return, with his loan spell earlier this summer showing that the paceman still had much to offer the Dragons. Particularly when you consider how experience can rub off on the new generation of seamers. Mark Cosgrove’s return for the T20s wouldn’t go amiss either.

Welsh Dragon

Walking out to bat...

He’d be playing for a newly-branded team, however, with Glamorgan Dragons to make way for the Welsh Dragons. Cricketing gods reacted to this change of name by requiring the Dragons to beat 2011’s CB40 champions, runners-up and one of the two other semi-finalists to qualify from the group stage of next year’s event.

Not that I probably have much cause for complaint. I’m not Welsh – those of you who are might like the change. But if we’re talking name changes, why not chase some insurance sponsorship and change the four-day name to Gla-morethan? I jest, of course… and a rose by another name still smells like a daffodil, right?

I mean, I still call it Sophia Gardens… (who doesn’t?)

Diary of a Glamorgan Fan (Aged 25 11/12) – #12

And now the end is near…

Pink

Pink - just like the ball

Quicker than you could say “was summer really just that one weekend in April”, the 2011 cricket season is drawing to a close. The County Championship marks the end of Glamorgan’s campaign at Canterbury this week – and “disappointing” would probably be the word best associated with it.

With neither Kent nor the Dragons playing for anything except pride, the game at the St Lawrence Cricket Ground has an end-of-term feel about it. Remember those last days when you could bring in a game to play with your friends? Well, someone’s brought in a pink ball…

The floodlights will go on when necessary tonight as play continues well into the night at Canterbury, with play starting at 2pm each day. It will be an interesting experiment, that’s for sure. The prospect of only needing to take half a day off to see a County Championship game might help swell attendances, after all.

In the limited overs formats of the game, batting second under the lights is rarely seen as something to be encouraged by (unless you’re playing a Glamorgan team that has underscored first again). But I am intrigued to see how the batsmen look to approach their innings at 19:30, when there’s still 90 minutes left in the day.

But I suppose that’s the point. To see what the pink ball does under lights and to see whether you can realistically expect teams to play four-day/five-day matches in twilight conditions.  It certainly changes perceptions of the traditional “lunch” and “tea” breaks. And what of the “nightwatchman” now…

Kent win the toss and bat first. Here begins the great Pink experiment…

Ireland v England – The Alternative View

Leprechaun hat and poncho

Nothing like playing up to a stereotype

“I’m supporting my two home teams” chirped one South African-come-Irishman as Craig Kieswetter and Jonathan Trott strolled out to bat at Clontarf. Very good, I thought. You can’t fault him for accuracy, although some questions remain over his relationship with his Irish chum next to him with a Leprechaun on his head.

Next to me is another local who appears to know his stuff; at least as far as being able to identify the counties to which some of England’s debutants are from. But there is little shrift for the notion that the visitors’ two South African openers are being skippered by a Dublin lad… “farce” I believe is a term I heard being used.

A braver soul than I might’ve raised Boyd Rankin’s exploits with England Lions, but let’s roll this back to the beginning. To Stansted Airport. And to a lovely pint of Magners enjoyed in the Wetherspoons. It is quite a shock how quiet Ryanair’s holding pen is during normal hours. Everyone else left at 5am for Malaga I guess.

By using the toilet on the flight over, I appeared to have sold my soul to Satan. Or Merv Hughes. My punishment was to think nothing ill of visiting the Temple Bar and being a tourist. If Ireland says it has paid back the UK’s loans in full, the pint and a half of Guinness in Temple Bar will tell you where those funds came from.

I had looked to @tomdotcom1 for some restraint, but I think he considers a man who, by 11pm, had been wearing flip-flops and a straw hat for approx 20 hours to be beyond such help. Fortunately, sleepytime called. I wouldn’t have let a lack of sleep ruin the following day’s play; we had the rain for that…

For the past fortnight, the forecast had been a changeable-yet-complete arse. The only constant was rain. This is Ireland, after all. But we had sunshine to start and threatening clouds were skirting the ground as we arrived. My aims were clear – get a free t-shirt, a free poncho and something with 4/6 on it to wave maniacally.

The rain did come before the start of play, but I was prepared. With the flip-flops on, I would avoid the annoyance of having wet shoes and socks. Meanwhile, with the poncho deployed to cover my seat, I wouldn’t get a wet that way. The hat can do the rest… it’s a hat, it has magic powers like that.

Boyd Rankin bowls

Rankin? Number One Test Team apparently

After the rain, play starts more or less on time. And Ireland – with something of a point to prove after the World Cup – begin well on a greeeeeeeeen surface. Yep, that’s how green it is. Rankin seems to me to have a tendency to stray onto leg a little too often, but Trott and Kieswetter aren’t setting the world alight with false shots and tickles.

By the time of the next rain interruption, England are two down and going along at a less-than-brisk 3-point-something an over. Eoin Morgan is, however, at the crease and you already sense there’s a key wicket here. But we’ll have to wait and see, because my feet are getting wet and the bar’s now open for Beamish. Nice.

The break gives one a chance to reflect; mainly at how many spectators were up in arms for catches taken off one bounce. This is serious cricket, not one bounce one hand rules. But with the unpredictability of the ICC, perhaps such a format is but months away from being introduced to keep the Associates off their case.

And it also at this point you get to admire the torrent of purple that has washed in over each of the stands at Clontarf CC. It’s very much Poncho o’Clock and the speed at which some have gone from ‘bagged poncho’ to ‘bagged in a poncho’ is amazing. The €5 cost of Beamish, meanwhile, is almost welcome after last night.

Moody sky at Clontarf

See. Blue sky. Just over there...

The restart is preceded by a crackly PA announcement about England going to a 4-4-f**king-2 formation, or something. I knew Andy Flower was absent, but did he have to send Mike Bassett? Turns out I was wrong anyway…. the game had been reduced to 42 overs. And Morgan was off, swinging momentum to the Englishsouthafricanirishmen.

Ireland’s policy of containment throughout the innings and into the sunshine at the latter stages almost kept England to under 200. Tail end bat throwing helped the visitors cause, but it had left Ireland with a challenging enough chase on that surface. But you would probably argue that the hosts had done their job.

Interval at Clontarf

Textbook

The interval brought with it kids onto the pitch with a Kwik Cricket set and a desire to bump off a few people in the stands. Some of the batting on display would put my best efforts to shame; two shots cleared the stand and a third spent the rest of the day bouncing along the top of the Portaloos in the corner where fancy dress lived.

Did I mention the kid bowling off a full run up? One for England to nick perhaps.

After the fun in the sun came the pain in the rain. Ireland’s start mirrored that of their guests – slow scoring and two early wickets. In fact, the Irish became rather bogged down (no pun intended) before the rain break. But they were on an equal footing going into the rain delay. If clouds could talk, these ones were swearing.

Rainbow at Clontarf

The rainbow. It's holding up the sky!

It was a much-longer rain delay and the wind whipped up to create an autumnal feel to the afternoon. The flip flops suddenly seemed a bit foolish. There were at least some moments of sunshine, but ICC rules categorically state that you have to wait for more rain to come after a rain break before you can attempt to get the action re-started.

A revised target of quite a lot from not very many left Ireland with a tough task to pull off the victory. I retain the opinion that Jack Duckworth has done nothing to help the game of cricket with the method he devised with Morse’s sidekick. Yes, I know Eoin Morgan transformed England’s innings, but duh, Kevin O’Brien?!

Wickets started falling, Ireland started getting behind the required rate. Kev got two meaty sixes away but eventually yorked himself against Dernbach… and the earlier rain had pretty much washed away any lingering hopes. There was some defiant resistance down the order, but six-an-over ain’t enough when needing 12.

The final margin of victory was 11 runs and Eoin Morgan was named Man Of The Match… it was cricket’s way of telling Ireland “let’s see what you could have won” and gave England newbies a nice champagne spraying session to enjoy. It didn’t rain again that day, y’know…

That night, the flip-flops were dispensed with. Sleeping aside, they’d seen around 30 hours of action in two days – that’s 1,797 minutes more than Ravi Bopara had batted and 1,800 more than Tom Cleverley has managed for the England football team. I don’t think any winners have come out of that particular perspective.

Pete at Guinness

Lost in Dublin...

As an addendum, you can rest assured that the flip-flops were given the Friday to recuperate as the Guinness Storehouse became the “place to be”. It slightly irks a former barman of little repute like me that any old fecker can get a certificate for pulling a pint there, but I suppose we’re all equals in the eyes of dear old Arthur.

Then again, maybe it was my shamrock that set me apart from the rest. Certainly apart from Tommy, who was too busy making a mess by leaving the tap running. But he’s from Barnet and has flippers for hands. I know my triumphs. And now I have a certificate to prove one of ’em… some things transcend cricket, y’know.