Category Archives: County Cricket

The Only Way Is Up

The only way is up for Glamorgan. We could split hairs and admit that, actually, the Dragons aren’t bottom of the table in the embryonic stages of the campaign. But based on three results alone, Things Can Only Get Better – and if you can’t hear D:Ream playing at the back of your mind right now, you’re not trying…

The margins of defeat have been 52 runs, 130 runs and two wickets in that order. It’s tempting to jump in with an ill-conceived rant when things aren’t going well, but you can end up looking stupid. Just ask Tottenham fans when the gap between them and Arsenal was 10 points in their favour not so long ago.

But enough about football. It’s the cricket season, right?

A recurring theme so far this season for Glamorgan has been the inability to put runs on the board. Marcus North is currently the most anticipated Welsh arrival since Brunel brought the railway to town. And I’m pretty sure no-one was saying that as Australia came to the SWALEC Stadium for the 1st Ashes Test in 2009.

With a first-class average of more than 40, these are runs that Glammy are quite desperate to get their hands on. I am probably not alone in hoping that when he does file into the ranks, it will be like a shot in the arm for the Dragons’ batting. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he kick-started the UK economy while at it…

Of course, North probably isn’t the Saviour of all things Glamorgan as he is just one man, but his delayed arrival – for entirely understandable reasons – and the decision by Alviro Petersen not to return this year left the Dragons in a little bit of a pickle and evidently more so in the batting department than anywhere else.

Glamorgan’s six opening stands have accounted for a combined total of 112 runs so far this season. Take out the 59-run partnership in the second digs at home to Derbyshire, and you don’t need to be an Einsteiny-type chap to see how the total  falls short of Ben Wright’s second innings individual score against Hampshire.

However, it is that second innings against Hampshire that offers that hope. I’d quantify it if I could put my finger on it. Perhaps it’s an unconditional thing; an indictment of how a love of sport can impel you to think irrationally; positively; triumphantly – even when the stats conspire to paint the gloomiest of pictures.

That first win is out there for Glamorgan. It’s just about finding it now…

Anticipation

County Cricket

County cricket: Somewhere only we know...

Well, here we go again. It is almost time for another, as fantastic-as-it-always-is County season. It seems long ago, and conversely, not-that-long-ago since a pink ball was being pinged about amid Canterbury twilight as both Kent and Glammy ushered out the 2011 season. Now its time for 2012 to steal the show.

I won’t lie to you. I can’t say with any great conviction that I know the format for the season ahead. Last I heard, David Morgan had recommended there be a 39th game in the United Arab Emirates. Did I hear that right? Or am I again confused with cricket’s boorish underling that keeps us from freezing on winter nights?

This week’s weather has been lovely. It is, however, the conditions I would like to bottle and save in reserve for the inevitable rainy days that are coming our way in the next few months. Why aren’t they out there playing now when we have such fine weather? Remember that when the game versus the Unicorns is washed out.

I’ll also remember it if, in a week’s time, I’m left sitting atop the Warner Stand at Lord’s peering out of the bar to see a deluge of water and a palette of grey. But it is part of the English cricket summer; we don’t just tolerate it because it is going to happen; we embrace the prospect (sometimes) of being consigned to the bar.

So is making silly bets about whether Jim Allenby will outscore Gareth Berg.

For Glamorgan, the pre-season has been delightful in its ratio of wins to failures. The cautious person in me hopes that it isn’t emptying the reserve before the real stuff has even started, but the optimist thinks that Matthew Mott has got his feet well and truly under the table after a full off-season behind him.

It’s also the #yearofthedragon.

The moment when the anticipation really starts to impress upon you is when the Glamorgan squad is announced for the annual MCC University Match in Oxford. It’s coincidentally the moment that you start wistfully looking out the window in an attempt to work out how many working days you can sacrifice for the cause…

Cricket doesn’t have one of those buzz terms to signify the start of something. It’s not a kick-off, a starting pistol or anything like that. But once the first Duke clips the top of the bails (or smashes all three stumps 10 yards towards the keeper), it will have started. As it has and as it always will be. Marvellous.

2012 – Year of the Glamorgan Dragon?

Chinese Dragon

Multiple batsmen are now permitted in CB 40 games following the Morgan Review

It is the Year of the Dragon. Not my words, but those of the Chinese and I would strongly advise arguing against them – the phrase “you and whose army” comes to mind. Ancient astrologers may not have given much thought to county cricket in the Shēngxiào (or Chinese Zodiac), but let’s clutch at a few straws here, eh?

Firstly, we need to be comfortable with an inescapable and rather crushing fact – Glamorgan have never “won” anything in past Years of the Dragon; not in terms of the current three formats. Mind you, Twenty20 was but a glint in the eye of an ECB official during the last Year of the Dragon (2000). The lack of precedent, thus, allows for your own interpretation.

With that reality check out of the way, we move on and look for omens – positive ones of course. Notable events from 12 years ago centre on Colwyn Bay, with 309 not out propelling Steve James to the top of the club’s individual batting records. We’ll come back to 2012’s batting prospects in a bit as I’m not done yet.

In compiling that triple-ton at the expense of Sussex, a 374-run partnership with Matthew Elliott also become a record-breaker. And with the help of the duo, 718 for the loss of three wickets (declared) was etched into the record books as a new highest team total. I told you there was something in this…

There is certainly a common theme if you look hard enough. Another Year of the Dragon was 1928, in which D.Davies and J.J.Hills shared a 202 stand – eighth in the list of the club’s highest – against Sussex at Eastbourne in 1928. It seems that the Sharks might be grateful for giving the Dragons a wide berth this year.

But, as promised, we come back to 2012’s batting prospects. Glammy won’t be in a position to call on Marcus North for the first month of the season as he and his wife are expecting a second child. Nor will Alviro Petersen be bringing his 1,000 first-class runs back to the SWALEC after committing to South Africa.

Ah. Hopes of 800-1 declared in the season opener at Grace Road now fade a tad.

It appears a temporary solution is being sought to cover North’s absence, but the news that Alviro won’t be returning has opened up a gap at the top of the order. I don’t think Matthew Mott was too pleased to hear about the decision either, with his descriptive term of ” incredibly disappointed” rarely used to positive effect.

Who do Glamorgan turn to? Unless there’s a surprise up Mr Metson’s sleeve, you would think little wrong of calling Mark Cosgrove and asking if he fancies taking some Division Two bowlers to the proverbial cleaners this season. But then it will also rather depend on whether Cossie is inclined to give up his Australian dream.

The southpaw’s boisterous approach to opening the batting would certainly offer a boost to his colleague, while meeting the Chinese characteristics of the Dragon. I’ve not given up this contrived trail just yet. If the Mayans and Nostradamus can be interpreted to justify the price of cheese, I’ll find Glammy glory in the zodiac.

After all, we don’t yet know how the Shēngxiào reacts to Twenty20 cricket, and it is Cardiff that hosts Finals Day this year. You never know…

Glamorgan – The 12 Innings Of Christmas (2011, Pt.12)

Stewart Walters, 147 (vs Kent)
LV County Championship Div.2| St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury | 13-14 September
2011

Stewart Walters - by Sarah Ansell

Walters by a Kentish night - (c) Sarah Ansell

After 11 shining examples of the Dragons’ batting prowess in 2011 – not easy to find either – we are  at the last one. The faithful mistress that is chronological order has dictated that it will be Stewart Walters who takes us into the Christmas festivities. It even comes with a pink ball to boot; a bauble being flayed around if you will.

The inaugural day/night County Championship game was contested between two sides that had long since given up hope of promotion.  Kent opted to bat first and posted a modest 237 – in reply, affairs were evenly poised with the visitors 121/3. For the Dragons, it needed someone to take things by the scruff of the neck.

Enter Stewart Walters. A delicately constructed innings brought up his first 50 in 85 deliveries. It took more than 100 additional deliveries to work his way to a ton and drive Glamorgan forward, with the Victorian untroubled by the pink ball, the autumn sunset on day two or the Spitfires’ attack.

Walters would be called upon again following an obstinate Kent second innings. With Alviro Petersen fluent in his determination to bring up the winning runs, a small cameo was afforded to Walters. A run-a-ball 19 ensured he was present as the Dragons made their target, and ensured a triumphant end to a ‘meh’ season.

Merry Christmas.

Glamorgan – The 12 Innings Of Christmas (2011, Pt.11)

Alviro Petersen, 144 (vs Lancashire)
Clydesdale Bank 40 | Penrhyn Avenue, Colwyn Bay | 21 August
2011

Alviro Petersen at Colwyn Bay

Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. By S Baldrick.

Christmas now looms ever larger on the horizon and it is appropriate that, as we get within touching distance, that we once again remember one of captain Alviro Petersen’s finest hours for the Dragons during the 2011 summer. And not for the first time, it’s Lancashire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 that have to suffer.

First it was a Gareth Rees ton, this time it was the skipper. Incidentally, the left hander from Swansea was 24 runs away from making it a double whammy for the visitors. But if he had made it to three figures for a second time against the Lightning, it would have still paled into comparison with Petersen’s.

On the North Wales riviera, the South African was in mercurial form. He wasn’t hanging about for the first 50, with 36 deliveries all that was required. The next one took 40 balls as he clearly took things easier. The final haul was 144 from an enjoyable 89, with 10 maximums and nine fours used in the onslaught.

It was a 33-over game due to the conditions. But that didn’t stop Glamorgan in their glorious rout of 328 runs at nearly 10 an over. Lancashire, in reply, weren’t exactly tardy but were well beaten after Cosker accounted for Steven Croft. He was doing his best to emulate Alviro’s rampage, but it was someone else’s day…

Glamorgan – The 12 Innings Of Christmas (2011, Pt.10)

Chris Cooke, 75 (vs Nottinghamshire)
Clydesdale Bank 40 | Trent Bridge, Nottingham | 12 August
2011

Chris Cooke

There was a ball. It has gone.

After some quite breathtaking displays in the Friends Life T20, it was a question of when, not if, Chris Cooke would have the chance to show what he is capable of when he isn’t needed to hit out or get out. A bad situation at Trent Bridge, but still the South African underlined his vast potential with this knock.

The hosts vindicated their decision to send the Dragons into bat first. Cooke was called upon as early as 16th over, with the visitors teetering yet again on 64/5. It was fortunate that any chance of qualifying for the next phase had pretty much evaporated before hand (and then returned to Trent Bridge as rainclouds – metaphoric).

So. What do you do when you’re five down with not much on the board and up against it? You knuckle down, give the ball a thwack and get on your bike. The half-century came up at a run a ball, before Cooke stepped up a gear. He wasn’t blessed with too much support, however, and was out for 75 off 62 balls.

Glamorgan lost by three wickets with 11 balls remaining. Cooke was the man to make the score competitive; 198 not a blinder, but better than it could’ve been. And what of the Gauteng boy? Well, another good season in 2012 could put him on England’s one-day radar. It’s not inconceivable – he has the right accent…

Glamorgan – The 12 Innings Of Christmas (2011, Pt.9)

Stewart Walters, 102 (vs Northamptonshire)
LV County Championship Div.2 | St Helen’s, Swansea | 30
July 2011

Stewart Walters

Walters helped keep Northants at bay

We had started to see a lot more of Stewart Walters during the second half of the 2011 season, following his move from Surrey at the end of the previous year. The first glimpses of his ability came in one-dayers, but soon he forced a way into the County Championship reckoning and worked hard to stay there.

Innings like this one helped, mind you. Glamorgan had been timid first time out, posting a mediocre 252, before promotion-seeking Northants walloped 552 in an extremely heavy-handed reply at Swansea. So, with 300 needed just to make the visitors bat again, the question was whether the Dragons would sink or swim.

Coming out all guns blazing, there were contributions from Petersen, Bragg and Powell. But it was Walters who was alone in making three figures and did so with great patience and skill. The first half-century came at less than a run every two balls; the second coming in an unexpected quick-fire 45 deliveries on day four.

By the time he lost his wicket, Glamorgan were 47 runs ahead and Northants had eventually left themselves chasing 149 off 23 overs in the dying Swansea light (a little Dylan Thomas reference there). OK, they came unnervingly close, but tight bowling ensured Walters’ and Glammy’s second innings efforts were rewarded.